Pollinator Plants for your Patio

lifestyle

April 19, 2021

Alisha Christensen

Let’s talk about pollinator plants for your patio! Even if you don’t have a big yard you can still help the pollinators.

Last year I moved into an apartment, but that meant I had to leave my monarch pollinator garden. I had three different kinds of milkweed (their only host plant), black-eyed susans, butterfly bush, a million sunflowers. I had a lot of space to work with!

I’m working with a smaller space this year, but still enough that I can have a mini pollinator garden. It’s a little too soon for it to be looking as beautiful as my other garden, but here’s what we have so far:

I’m also a great example of crowding my plants, then dealing with it all later 😅😬 I also need to bring everyone in tonight since we’re getting a freak snowstorm in the middle of April. I’m growing zinnias, a hummingbird mix, sunflowers, a wildflower mix in the pot with the head, ranunculus (I’ve also added more wildflowers to the pots so when they die the wildflowers take over), and milkweed. I’ll be getting a bigger pot for the milkweed and making a little native perennial plant container garden.

Things to consider when picking your plants:

  • How much space do you have to work with?
  • How much sun does your patio get? 
  • What zone are you growing in?
  • Do you want plants that come back every year (perennial), plants that you plant every year (annual), or a mix of both? (mix of both is usually the best!)
  • What type of container to plant in (I like to plant in deeper containers for perennial plants because then they can grow deeper roots and spread like they would in the wild)

Pollinator plants for your patio

I am in growing zone 6a so I chose plants based on that. You can check your “hardiness” zone here. Here are a few things I’m planting on my patio this year:

Milkweed

a monarch caterpillar on the butterfly milkweed from my garden last year.

This is on my list forever and always. It’s the only host plant for the Monarch butterfly and we’ve pretty much destroyed their habitat with our farming habits, pesticide/herbicide use, and our obsession with mowing all the plants down in rural areas and on the side of the road. You can find milkweed native to your area here. If you’re in the Kansas City area, Family Tree Nursery usually has milkweed!

Spike Speedwell

This plant is just beautiful (and bees LOVE it). Everyone asked me what it was called after I planted it in my front yard and I had to tell them, “I actually forgot”, because I actually forgot. Thanks to the internet, I found it again. I don’t have this for my patio yet, but it’s on the list.

Black-eyed susan

Tbh, this flower needs a new name. Like, who tf gave Susan a black eye and why did we name a flower after her? Anyway, they’re hardy af and a great native plant for pollinators. 

Along those same lines, echinacea, other coneflowers, daisies, blanket flower, and coreopsis are all great options too!

Aster

I don’t care what kind of aster you plant, just plant some asters. They’re a late summer/fall flowering plant and the Monarchs LOVE them. I had asters everywhere at the country house and every fall there would be dozens of Monarchs feeding on them. 

Annual pollinator plants for your patio:

Sunflowers

It may not be practical for your patio, but I for one, cannot go a summer without growing sunflowers. They are easy to grow and you can find short varieties that grow only 2-3 feet instead of the usual six-plus feet. All pollinators love these: the bees, cicada, butterflies, hummingbirds, flies, etc. 

Zinnia

These are actually really easy to grow too! I thought that they would be difficult, but I literally just throw down seeds and they grow. It’s awesome and they make beautiful cut and pressed flowers.

If you’re planting a large area then check out American Meadows! They have pollinator mixes based on your area (Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, and even a mini meadow mix). I used to get all my seed from them when I lived in the country and they never disappoint. 

Other resources: 

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