Bees and other pollinators need the right type of flowers to obtain pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrate). London has a lot of parks and gardens and the long flowering season of its diverse plants gives London's honey its characteristic complex taste. However, the planting policies of parks and the flower people choose to grow are not necessarily good for bees. With so many beekeepers in London, it is increasingly important that we ensure enough forage and enough diversity of forage to keep London's pollinating insects alive and healthy for the entire season.
The LBKA has an active programme of helping plant in a way that benefits bees and pollinating insects. We work with academics, ecologists, councils and park authorities and our pollinator friendly seed mix is distributed free at events thanks to our sponsor, Ashurst. Pollinator-friendly plants and seeds are available from various garden centres and mail order companies.
The plants listed below are all attractive to honey bees. Some provide nectar for adult bees to feed on and turn into honey. Others are a source of pollen for bees to feed their larva. Most are simple flowers with open structure. Bees favour these over those with double flowers that contain little or no nectar or pollen and those with tightly closed flowers that are difficult to enter.
Ceanothus 'Autumnal Blue'
Californian Lilac 'Autumnal Blue': Glossy evergreen foliage. Rounded heads of light blue flowers from July to September on a shrub up to 2.5-3 metres tall. Good wall/fence shrub.
Ceanothus 'Blue Mound'
Californian Lilac 'Blue Mound': Glossy evergreen foliage clothed in late spring by deep blue flowers. Forms a mound up to 1m or more high with a spread of some 2m.
True Lavender: A compact lavender with grey-green linear leaves. Purple flower spikes produced above the plant on green stalks open in June and continue into July. Grows to a height of 1 metre with a similar spread.
Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'
Lavender 'Hidcote': Dwarf growing compact form up to 60cm. Silvery grey-green leaves with flower spikes of deep violet-blue from June.
Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'
English Lavender 'Grosso': A strong growing form up to 60-80cm, with blue flowers on long stems in June.
Field Rose: A scrambling, suckering, native shrub with green, toothed leaflets. White, sometimes pink-tinged flowers are produced in June and July with the red fruit referred to as 'hips' appearing in October. The hips are held after the leaves drop, although they are a source of food for birds. Reaches around 2 metres high with some form of support with a spread to 2.5 metres.
Dog Rose: The Native Dog Rose has white or more usually pink, single scented flowers followed by red hips on vigorous thorny stems.
Rosa 'Fire Meidiland'
Rose 'Fire Meidiland': Glossy green foliage; red flowers from late spring through to autumn. Vigorous and upright with arching branches giving a rounded outline
Redleaf Rose: Also known as Rosa rubrifolia, this strong growing, bushy rose has glaucous leaflets, pink-tinged. Dusky, deep-pink single flowers are followed by red-brown hips in autumn.
Rose 'Hertfordshire': A compact groundcover rose from the County Series with single carmine flowers from summer through to autumn.
Rosa 'Pride Meidiland'
Rose 'Pride Meidiland': Relatively tall ground cover, vigorous, producing numerous pink flowers with faded white centres. Useful for slopes and banks.
Japanese Rose: A strong growing, tough, deciduous shrub with dark green leaves made up of oval leaflets held on very prickly stems. Fresh light green leaves when young, turn yellow in autumn. Single, fragrant magenta flowers with a yellow centre of stamens are produced throughout the summer from June followed by large, red and orange-red, rounded hips which are held well into the winter, although becoming shrivelled. Spreads via suckers to form dense clumps. Grows to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres high with a 2+ metre spread.
Rosa xanthina 'Canary Bird'
Rose 'Canary Bird': Fern-like leaves, grey-green with canary-yellow flowers from late May into June. Grows to a height of 3m with a spread to 4m.
Laurustinus: The Laurustinus is a medium to large evergreen shrub, producing pink budded white flower clusters from autumn to spring. Blue-black berries by autumn. Good in sun or semi-shade.
Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price'
Laurustinus 'Eve Price': A more compact, dense growing form with more pink in the buds and flowers. Blue-black berries by autumn.
Yarrow 'Fanal': Low growing perennial with finely divided linear foliage coloured greyish-green. Flat bright red flower-heads spotted yellow on stout stems in June up to 75cm high with a 60cm spread.
Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate'
Fernleaf Yarrow 'Gold Plate': Clump forming evergreen herbaceous perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June to August produces large, flat bright golden yellow flower-heads on stout stems. Grows to a height of 120cm with a spread of 45cm.
Achillea millefolium 'Paprika'
Milfoil 'Paprika': Clump forming perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June into September produces flat orange-red flower-heads with tiny yellow centres on stout stems. Flower colour fades with age. Grows to a height and a spread of 40-60cm.
Achillea millefolium 'Summer Pastels'
Milfoil 'Summer Pastels': Clump forming perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June to August produces flat flower-heads in pale shades of pink, apricot and white on stout stems. Flower colour fades with age. Grows to a height of 60cm and a spread of 50cm.
Yarrow 'Terracotta': Clump forming perennial with finely divided aromatic grey-green foliage. Grows to a height of 90cm. From June August produces flat brownish-orange flower-heads which fade to pale yellow.
Agastache 'Black Adder'
Giant Hyssop 'Black Adder': Recent research shows this plant is the favoured source of nectar for Honey Bees. The plant produces an abundance of sweet nectar which bees make a bee-line for once discovered by the hive.
Aquilegia McKana Hybrids
Columbine McKana Hybrids: The long spurred flowers occur in a range of shades, including bicolour, borne on 60cm purple-flushed green stems in late spring and early summer. Leaflets green. very popular with bumbble bees
Aster x frikartii 'Wonder of Stafa'
Aster 'Wonder of Stafa': Foliage dark green. Light violet-blue with orange-yellow centres produced towards the end of July through to September. Upright plant with a height of 70cm and a spread of 40cm. Late summer flowering plant is good for late flying insect pollinators
Aster 'Little Carlow'
Blue Wood Aster 'Little Carlow': This hybrid forms a dense bushy clump with green leaves on upright stems. An abundance of lilac-blue daisy-like flowers with yellow centres ageing to dark red are produced in September to October. Grows to 100cm.
False Goatsbeard 'Granat': This Astilbe x arendsii hybrid forms a clump of serrated glossy green leaves with crimson-red upright flower plumes from July to August. Grows to a height of 50-60cm with the flowers and has a spread of 40-45cm. Ideal for planting alongside water bodies.
Campanula carpatica ‘Dark Blue Clips’
Carpathian Bellflower 'Dark Blue Clips': Short growing ground cover Campanula favoured by bum,ble bees and honey bees alike. One of the best sources of nectar for bees.
Mountain Knapweed: A spreading perennial forming clumps with ovate to lance-shaped green leaves. Blue flowers with purple centres on green hairy stems from May to through June. Attractive to butterflies and bees. Grows to a height of 60cm with a 60cm spread.
Globe Thistle: A clump-forming perennial with deeply-cut, spiny, dark green leaves downy underneath. Metallic bluish-violet spiky globe-shaped flowers on branching stems are produced above the foliage in July to September. The globes remain to form seed heads. Attractive to butterflies. Grows to a height of 100-120cm with a spread of 40-50cm.
a Sea Holly: An eye-catching clump-forming perennial with deeply cut green leaves, clearly veined. Blue-green thistle-like flower heads with deeply cut silver veined basal bracts of the same colour on upward branching steel blue stems from the end of June through to August. Grows to 45-60cm high with a spread of 30cm. Very striking!
Eryngium x tripartitum
a Sea Holly: A clump-forming perennial with toothed, dark green leaves. Small metallic-blue cone-shaped flower heads with silvery-blue bracts on upward multi-headed blue stems are produced in July to September. Grows up to 60cm with a spread of 50cm.
Helenium or Sneazeweed
Many of the Helenium's are attractive to bees and butterflies as well as a host of other insect pollinators such as Hover Flies. There area wide variety available some early summer flowering but many are mid or late summer into the autumn flowering which offer a great source of nectar late in the season.
Christmas Rose: Virtually evergreen foliage, clump-forming with dark green and leathery, which sets off the large saucer-shaped white flowers sometimes tinged strong pink, with yellow stamens, from December to March. Needs neutral or limey moist soil as well as shade from full sun. Grows 30cm high. good nectar source for early and very late flying insect pollinators
Lenten Rose: The Lenten Rose has saucer-shaped flowers of various white, green and pink shades from winter to spring. Foliage leathery dark green. Generally easier to grow than Helleborus niger.
Melissa officinalis 'Aurea'
Golden Lemon Balm: This culinary herb is a deciduous perennial with green and golden-yellow, oval-pointed toothed leaves which smell of lemons, especially so when crushed. Pale yellow flowers later turning white are produced in July and August and are attractive to bees. Grows to 40 centimetres high with a 40-60 centimetre spread.
Oregano: This culinary herb is a mound-forming, spreading perennial with very small, oval green, aromatic leaves. Terminal clusters of white to pink fragrant flowers on square, reddish-brown tinged, hairy upright green stems are produced in July through to early September which are attractive to bees. Grows to 50 centimetres high with a 60-90 centimetre spread. Reported to be one of the best sources of nectar for bees.
Origanum vulgare 'Aureum'
Golden Marjoram: This culinary herb is a low growing, spreading semi-evergreen perennial forming mounds of very small, bright golden-yellow, aromatic leaves. Terminal clusters of pink fragrant flowers on square, reddish-brown tinged, upright yellow stems are produced in July through to early September which is attractive to bees. Grows to 20-30 centimetres high with a 30 centimetre spread.
Pulmonaria angustifolia 'Munstead Blue'
Narrow-leaved Lungwort 'Munstead Blue': A low growing semi-evergreen or possibly deciduous perennial forming green clumps with ovate-shaped leaves. Deep blue funnel-shaped flowers on short upright stems are produced in March and April. Grows to a height of 30cm with a 45cm spread. A good early spring nectar source for bees.
Pulmonaria rubra 'Redstart'
Lungwort 'Redstart': An early flowerer with rosy-red funnel-shaped flowers on short green upright stems in late February or early March to April. Produces low growing clumps with ovate-shaped green leaves, pale green when first emerge. Grows to a height of 30cm with a 60cm spread.
Salvia elegans 'Tangerine Sage'
Tangerine Sage: This culinary sage can be classed as an herbaceous perennial forming mounds of green, pointed, hairy leaves which smell strongly of tangerine especially when crushed, hence the common name. Red tubular flowers on square, hairy, upright bronzed stems are produced from July to September. Grows to a height of 90cm high with a 100cm spread.
Salvia x superba
Sage: An upward branching, clump-forming perennial with lance-shaped green leaves. Purple flower spikes are produced from June to September. Grows to a height of 70-90cm high with a 40-60cm spread.
Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
Sage 'Mainacht': An upright, clump-forming perennial with square, slightly hairy, green stems and green, shiny leaves. Violet flower spikes are produced above the leaves in June to August. Grows to 45-50cm high, reaching 60-70cm to the tops of the flower spikes. Spread is to 40-45cm.
Great autumn source of pollen and nectar when most other plants have finished flowering
Solidago 'Cloth of Gold'
Golden Rod 'Cloth of Gold': Tall upright perennial and a good source of nectar for insects.
Common Comfrey: broad leaved perennial producing flowers attractive to bees. Deep tap roots allow it to grow in poor soils. The leaves can be made into a liquid plant feed.
Thymus x citriodorus
Lemon Thyme: This culinary herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, green, lemon-scented leaves. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 20-30cm high with a 25-30cm spread. Thyme is not only a good nectar source for bees but chemicals found in Thyme are proven to help bees under sytress from Varroa mite infestation. Many bee keepers feed their bees syrup with essence of thymol to boost the bees immune system.
Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus'
Golden Thyme: This culinary herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, golden-yellow and green, lemon scented leaves which are brightest when fresh from emerging in spring. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 20cm high with a 20-25cm spread.
Thymus x citriodorus 'Bertram Anderson'
Lemon Thyme 'Bertram Anderson': This herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, golden-yellow and green, lemon scented leaves which are brightest and red-tinged when fresh from emerging in spring. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 10cm high with a 20-25cm spread.
Thymus x citriodorus 'Silver Queen'
Lemon Thyme 'Silver Queen': This herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, green and cream-edged, lemon scented leaves. Numerous pale purple flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 15cm high with a 20-25cm spread.
Thymus doerfleri 'Bressingham Pink'
Thyme 'Bressingham Pink': This creeping Thyme forms a dense mat of tiny dark green, aromatic leaves. Pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 10cm high with a 25cm spread.
Argentinian Vervain: A semi-transparent perennial, just frost-hardy with upright, tall, square green stems, tinged red when young. Green leaves are oblong to lance-shaped and toothed, also red-tinged when young. Pinkish-violet purple flowers are produced in clusters at the top of the stems in June right through to November in London. Grows to 1.75 to 2 metres high with a spread of only 35-45cm.
Sea Thrift: Flowers in late spring through to the summer.
A perennial whose Barbie pink flowers are a magnet for bees. Produces copious amounts of pollen. Often grows wild on London's brownfield sites and easy to grow from seed.
An annual often grown for use as a green manure. The flowers are attractive to bees.
small cormous herbaceous perennial with linear green leaves with a silvery-white midrib is an early spring floweringplant. Ysmall species crocus are better than the showy large bloomed varieties.
Daffodil: strong growing bulbous perennial has initially upright, strap-like green leaves. Clusters of very long-lasting flowers with a golden-yellow trumpet and slightly arched-back outer petals are produced from the end of February-March. These can soon be followed by green seed pods. Leaves die down by the end of June. Ideal for naturalising. Grows to a height of 15cm. Avoid double headed and showy types which have less nectar.
Gorgeous blue-purple flowers which track the sun across the sky and flower from February to March are a magnet for early emerging honey bees. On a recent visit to a garden centre in neasden vast numbers of honey and bumble bees were seen foraging on a display stand filled with these palnts.
Foxglove: A biennial forming a rosette of large hairy veined green leaves in the first year. In the second year, one-sided flower spikes on tall, upright stalks are produced from early June to July. Individual tubular-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple and white spotted purple within open in succession from the base upwards. Very small dark brown seeds are then produced in quantity and thus will spread rapidly unless dead-headed after flowering. Ideal for the woodland situation and popular with bumble bees. The Foxglove has a spread of 30-40cm with the flower spike reaching to a height of 100-150cm. TIP: cut down the seed heads before they mature once most of the flowers have passed to force a second flush of flowers. The second flush will not be as spectacular as the primary flowering but will provide bees with nectar for several weeks a few weeks after the cut.
Viper's Bugloss: A stiffly hairy biennial with narrow green pointed leaves. Bright blue flowers starting out pink in bud are borne on upright spikes above the leaves in June to September. Attractive to bees and other insects. Occurs on dry, light calcareous soils on coastal dunes, sea cliffs, grassland as well as roadsides. Drought tolerant. Grows to 70cm high with the flowers. One of the best sources of nectar for bees.
Field Forget-me-not: Description to be provided and not yet included in a search. Send a 'Request?' to have this work assigned the highest priority. If images are not displayed they may still be available. Send a 'Request?' if required. Early flowerring plant good nectar source in spring.
Common Poppy: A bristly haired annual with small, toothed to deeply cut green leaves. Wiry erect stems bear solitary flowers which in bud droop down becoming upright when open scarlet with or without a black centre in June to August. Flowers followed by oval, green seed casings with a brown lined flat top filled with an abundance of tiny rounded seeds which are very long lasting. A long-standing weed in corn fields until the introduction of herbicides. Occurs on disturbed ground including roadsides and waste places. Reaches a height of 60cm.
Wild Thyme: good nectar source for bees with many health benefits for the bees as well.
Common Valerian: A good source of nectar attractive to insect pollinators.
Annual daisy like flowers in a variety of colors. Great source of nectar and pollen.
Annual flower, popular in bedding displays - don't go for the bedding types but the taller upright less showy forms
small half hardy shrub, prolific producer of nectar invaluable to bees and butterflies. Requires a sheltered, warm sunny position. Can be raised in pots and over wintered in green house or a poly tunnel. Widely planted in the southern united states and sub tropical regions where they attract clouds of bees and butterflies.
Sun Flower tall upright annual with large flowers in red, orange and yellow.
Low growing annual, blue flowers are a prolific source of nectar and favoured by Honey Bees. Second only to Agastache in terms of popularity with honey bees.