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Pollinator Plants For Ohio Gardens

May 17, 2022



Not only are pollinator gardens lovely to look at, but they provide a vital source of food and shelter to the pollinators who in turn are vital to the production of many food crops and are essential to the survival of many native plants here in Ohio. Here are some tips for planting your own!

5 Ohio Native Pollinators


Why Choose Native Plants

To best support native pollinator populations, it is important to plant native plants that native pollinators are best adapted to use. Pollinators such as Monarch butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are most attracted to the plant species that evolved alongside them. Using native plants will simply attract more native pollinators to your garden and provide the best possible nutrition for these species.

Native plants are already adapted to Northeast Ohio’s climate, so you won’t need to put in as much work to care for them as you would for more exotic varieties. This saves you time and money, and reduces damage to the environment, as you won’t need to use as much water, fertilizer, or pesticides.

Plant a Pollinator Garden

Choose an area in full sun, a generally flat spot with reasonable soil. Use a hose, rope, or string to layout the shape of your bed. It doesn’t have to be square. Curves are beautiful and will enhance the appearance of your landscape. 

To prepare your site, remove any rocks or debris. If the lawn is present, either mow it as low as possible or use a string trimmer to remove grass down to the soil. There is no need to till the soil. Do not use chemicals to kill the plants on your selected site!

Cover the site with cardboard or multiple layers of newspaper. Spray with water to keep papers in place. Wetting this layer assures it makes good contact with the soil and that it forms a barrier that will suppress weeds. Cover the paper layer with three to five inches of aged, clean, mulch. Mulch can be pine straw, very small pine bark nuggets, or topsoil mixed with peat moss, leaf mold, or compost. Do not use topsoil alone. 

Blue Moon Sugar Buzz Bee Balm

Bee Balm

A perennial-favorite native to North America, bee balm (Monarda spp.), also called wild bergamot, is beloved in flower beds for its display of beautiful blooms of red, pink, purple, or white in mid-to-late summer. The plants bear fragrant foliage, too. 

In the garden, its most frequent visitors are hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and moths. These visitors have the long tongues required to reach the tubular flowers’ nectar. Bee balm is a favorite plant for bumblebees especially.


There are many different native varieties of milkweed that can be planted in a pollinator garden in Northeast Ohio to suit a variety of different growing conditions. For example, common milkweed is an excellent choice for areas with bright sun, while swamp milkweed can tolerate a bit more shade. Swamp milkweed is also a great choice for wetter, marshy areas, while white milkweed or whorled milkweed are better choices for dryer soil conditions.

The milky sap found in milkweed is toxic to most animals, so be sure to use caution if you have children or pets who have access to your garden. While most animals won’t bother your milkweed plants due to their unpleasant taste, it is always wise to err on the side of caution when it comes to pets and children.



Goldenrod is an important fall pollinator plant.  If you watch the golden plumes of goldenrods, you’ll see many tiny flies, bees, beetles, wasps, and butterflies moving through the blossoms.

Monarch butterflies enjoy the sweet nectar, especially the nectar of Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens). Adult butterflies don’t eat pollen, so they only sip the nectar.

Magnus Echinacea

‘Magnus’ Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent stems and flowerheads in place to overwinter will also attract birds. Coneflowers are notably tough native plants and ‘Magnus’ is no exception, withstanding drought, clay, humidity, and harsh winter conditions without complaint. Easy to grow, this plant is a great choice for beginner and experienced gardeners alike.

Magnus Coneflower Echinacea Purpurea
Oxeye Sunflower

Oxeye Sunflower

With showy yellow daisy-like flowers attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, beneficial wasps, flies, and native bees, the oxeye sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides) blooms all summer and into fall. 

Annual Pollinators

B Calendula   H Morning Glory
B Cosmos   H Nicotiana
H Fuchsia   H Petunia
H Garanium   H Salvia
B Heliotrope   H Snapdragon
H Hibiscus   H Spider Flower
H Impatiens   H Stocks
B Lantana   B Zinnia
B Sweet Alyssum      

Pernnial Pollinators

BAster B,HGayfeather
HBeardtongue B  Globe Thistle
B,HBee Balm B,HHardy Hibiscus
HBellflower B,HHollyhock
HBleeding Heart HHoneysuckle
BBlack-eyed Susan BJoe Pye Weed
BBlanket Flower BJupitersbeard
BBlue Mist Shrub BSedum
BButterfly Bush B,HLupine
B,HButterfly Flower BLavender
BIberis B  Mountian Gold
HCardinal Flower B,HDianthus
BCatmint B  Pinchusion
HColumbine HRed-Hot Poker
BConeflower B,HSalvia
HCoral Bells BSea Thrift
BDaisy BSpeedwell
HDaylily BSwamp Milkweed
BPurple Rock Cress BTickseed
BFalse Sunflower HTrumpet Vine
HFoxglove BYarrow
BGas Plant