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For The Garden

Plants That Attract Native Bees

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: July, 2013, Page 126
BEE BRUSH
(Aloysia gratissima)



BEE BRUSH
(Aloysia gratissima)

Type: Shrub

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: White; spring through fall

Size: 6'H by 6'W

Soil: Not fussy; tolerates poor drainage

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Drought tolerant, although its appearance improves with supplemental water in summer.

Attracts: Bees and butterflies

Note: This plant is deciduous or semi-evergreen but hardy to 15 degrees F. Because of its sharp tips and bare branches in winter, suitable placement in the landscape needs to be considered.

Why we like it: Three-inch-long flower spikes emit a vanilla fragrance. Foliage is also aromatic. Blooms most abundantly after it rains.


FOOTHILLS PALO VERDE
(Parkinsonia microphylla)
FOOTHILLS PALO VERDE
(Parkinsonia microphylla)


Type: Tree

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: Yellow; spring

Size: 15'H by 15'W

Soil: Most types with good drainage

Light: Full or reflected sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Selective pruning to remove dead, crossed or weak branches. Leave seasonal litter on the ground as mulch or rake up for the compost pile.

Attracts: Bees and birds (including hummingbirds)

Note: Although foothills palo verde (also known as little leaf palo verde) is much taller and wider, other Parkinsonia varieties provide nectar and pollen for bees as well.

Why we like it: Its small stature suits many landscape situations, including patios.


BEE BALM
(Monarda fistulosa)
BEE BALM
(Monarda fistulosa)

Type: Perennial

Elevation: Mid, high

Blooms: Lavender-pink; summer

Size: 2'H by 3'W

Soil: Prefers organic matter and good drainage

Light: Sun to light shade

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: To prevent powdery mildew, do not crowd plants or sprinkle water on foliage.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds

Note: May grow in some low-desert microclimates but does not like intense sun and heat. Other Monarda species offer pink, scarlet or white blooms.

Why we like it: Its showy flowers resemble fluffy pom-poms. Part of the mint family, bee balm has aromatic foliage that can be used to make tea.


CREOSOTE BUSH
(Larrea tridentata)
CREOSOTE BUSH
(Larrea tridentata)

Type: Shrub

Elevation: Low, mid

Blooms: Yellow; year-round, profuse in spring

Size: 6'H by 6'W

Soil: Native soil with good drainage

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Extremely drought tolerant once established

Maintenance: Minimal. Can be cut back 6 to 12 inches from the ground to rejuvenate with dense green growth.

Attracts: Bees

Note: Creosote supports 125 species of native bees, whose emergence from nests and underground burrows may coincide with bloom periods.

Why we like it: After it rains, creosote’s resinous foliage produces the desert’s “signature” scent.

Other Favorites:
Cacti, California and Mexican poppy, desert ironwood, desert marigold, globe mallow, sunflower, velvet mesquite, Wright’s bee brush (Aloysia wrightii)
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