Plant a Pollinator Garden

Things to Consider

  • Remember the Seasons
    • Bees Need More Blooms in Summer and Fall
  • It’s Not a Crime To Add Non-Natives
  • Think Long Term – Size of Mature Plants
  • Maintenance
  • Leave areas of undisturbed soil and aged wooden posts or logs for native bee nesting sites.

Resources

Here are some resources for pollinator-friendly, drought-tolerant native plants:

Water Conservation

Water will always be a challenge in our area.

Fire Safety

Another consideration in our area is fire danger, especially if your home is near the border of an urban area in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

Zones

Most gardening books, catalogs, seed packets, and plant tags refer to plant hardiness zone, climate zone, or growing zone. In California, the most commonly used plant hardiness systems are:

Location Sunset Zone USDA Zone
Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, and Hollister 14 9b-10a
Aromas, Prunedale 16 9b
Salinas, Soledad 15 9b

Make Your Lawn Pollinator Friendly

Make a bee friendly lawn   Homeowners use up to 10 times more insecticide and herbicide per acre of lawn compared to farmers growing crops.  You can create a lawn that has a mix of grasses and flowers to help bees, while still preserving the beauty of your home.  When done properly, a bee lawn has many benefits:

  • Attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects.
  • It requires less water than a traditional grass lawn.
  • It needs less fertilizer and herbicide treatment.
  • You don’t need to mow as often.
  • It looks more attractive than an all grass lawn.

 

Support Local Beekeeping

Report bee swarms to your local beekeeper     DO NOT try to spray the swarm with pesticides or a hose.  You will just get them angry!

Join the Gilroy Beekeepers Association   Your tax deductible membership fee helps fund bee education in our schools and community.   For members that are interested in going further, we provide training and support so that you can own your own bee hives at home.

Adopt a hive    You can experience beekeeping without buying your own equipment, even if you have no place to keep bees at home.

Plant a Pollinator Garden

Things to Consider

  • Remember the Seasons
    • Bees Need More Blooms in Summer and Fall
  • It’s Not a Crime To Add Non-Natives
  • Think Long Term – Size of Mature Plants
  • Maintenance
  • Leave areas of undisturbed soil and aged wooden posts or logs for native bee nesting sites.

Resources

Here are some resources for pollinator-friendly, drought-tolerant native plants:

Water Conservation

Water will always be a challenge in our area.

Fire Safety

Another consideration in our area is fire danger, especially if your home is near the border of an urban area in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI).

Zones

Most gardening books, catalogs, seed packets, and plant tags refer to plant hardiness zone, climate zone, or growing zone. In California, the most commonly used plant hardiness systems are:

Location Sunset Zone USDA Zone
Morgan Hill, San Martin, Gilroy, and Hollister 14 9b-10a
Aromas, Prunedale 16 9b
Salinas, Soledad 15 9b

Pollinator Friendly Patio and Deck Plants

Common Sage  (Salvia officinalis)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: purple
Soil Requirements:
Well drained soil
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 1 - 3 ft

Borage  (Borago officinalis)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Herb, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: blue/purple
Soil Adaptations
: Garden
Exposure: Sun or shade
Water needs: Low-Medium
Height: 1 - 3 ft

Indian Blanket Flower  (Gailliardia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Sunflower Family
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: red/orange
Soil Adaptations
: Well drained
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low-Medium
Height: Depends on variety.  Can be 4 - 6 in., or 1 - 2 ft.

Purple Coneflower  (Echinacea purpurea)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Native
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: pink/purple
Soil Adaptations: Well drained
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low-Medium
Height: 4-5 ft.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal')

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Sterile hybrid, must be propagated by cuttings
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Purple
Soil Adaptations
: Clay or Whatever
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Moderate
Height:  Up to 2 ft.

Spanish Lavender  (Lavandula stoechas)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: purple
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 1 - 3 FT.
Water needs: Low

Common Thyme  (Thymus vulgaris)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: pink
Soil Adaptations
: Whatever
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 6 - 12 in.
Water needs: Low

Coreopsis  

Importance to Bees: Minor
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Flower, Sunflower Family
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: yellow
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 18 - 24 in.

Pest and Weed Best Practices

Things To Consider

Resources

Here are some resources for learning about Integrated Pest Management as an alternative to using insecticides:

How to minimize impact of traditional sprays on bees

Spray near sunset or after dark

  • Bees are in their hive, and out of contact with spray

Insecticides

Most insecticides like Sevin are highly toxic to bees.

Better Alternatives
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Serenade
  • Spinosad
  • Neem oil

Herbicides

  • Glyphosate Herbicides (e.g. RoundUp)
    • Can impair bee navigation
    • Kills good bacteria in the bees’ stomachs
Better Alternatives
  • Battery powered weed trimmers
  • Vinegar/dish soap spray
  • Organic weed sprays
  • If you must use a herbicide, use products based on 2,4D

Fungicides

  • Increases toxic effects of insecticides
  • Increases bees’ vulnerability to disease and parasites
  • Avoid combining fungicides with pesticides when you spray
Better Alternatives
  • Sulphur
  • Copper-based fungicides
  • Neem oil

Pollinator Friendly Trees

California Pepper Tree  (Schinus molle)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Tree, introduced when California was first settled
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Rapid
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Water Needs: Low
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 25 ft.+
Width:  25 ft.+

River  Red Gum  (Eucalyptus camaldulensis)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Tree, introduced from Austrailia
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Rapid
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Water Needs: Low
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 60 ft.+
Width:  30 ft.+

Tulip Tree  (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Tree, native to southern US
Foliage Character: Deciduous
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: Green/yellow
Flower Season: Summer, Spring
Water Needs: Medium
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 25 ft.+
Width: 12 ft.+

Toyon  (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Tree/Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Water Needs: Low
Soil: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 12 – 25 ft.
Width: 12 – 18 ft.

Sweet Acacia  (Acacia farnesiana)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Foliage Character: Winter deciduous
Habit: Open, Mounding, Low-branching
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Water Needs: Low
Height: 20 – 25 ft.
Width: 20 – 25 ft.

Coast Oak  (Quercus agrifolia)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Pollen
Plant Type: Tree, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Low-branching, Dense
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Insignificant
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 25 – 45 ft.
Width: 30 – 40 ft.

Pollinator Friendly Shrubs

Shrubby Germander (Teucrium fruiticans 'Azureum')

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Rapid
Foliage Color: Light green
Flower Color: Lavender
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 5 – 6 ft.
Width: 6 – 8 ft.

Butterfly Rose (Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis')

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Beneficials, Bees
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: Opens orange then turns pink and finally maroon as it ages
Exposure: Full to half sun
Water needs: Low
Size:8 - 10 ft. tall and wide
UC Master Gardeners

Toyon  (Heteromeles arbutifolia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: White
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 12 – 25 ft.
Width: 12 – 18 ft.

California buckwheat  (Eriogonum fasciculatum)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Dense
Foliage Color: Medium green
Flower Color: Pink, White
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Exposure: All day sun
Water Need: Low
Height: 2 – 4 ft.
Width:  3 – 6 ft.

Australian Fuschia  (Corea alba)

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Beneficials, Butterflies, Other birds
Plant Type: Bush
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: white
Exposure: Low to half sun, shade
Water needs: Low
Height: 8 ft
Deer resistant, evergreen
UC Master Gardeners

Rose 'Happenstance'  (Rosa 'Happenstance')

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Beneficials, Bees
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Light yellow to white
Exposure: Full sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 3 ft. tall and wide with regular pruning
UC Master Gardeners

Tower of Jewels  (Echium Wildpretii)

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Bees
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: Red
Exposure: Full sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 6 - 8 ft. tall

Manzanita  (Arctostaphylos)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Spreading, Mounding
Foliage Color: Pale green, Blue green
Flower Color: Pink, White
Flower Season: Winter, Spring
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 3 – 4 ft.
Width: 5 – 6 ft.

Ashyleaf Buckwheat  (Eriogonum cinereum)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Foliage Color: Gray green
Flower Season: Summer
Soil Adaptations: Clay soil
Exposure: All day sun
Height: 4 – 5 ft.
Width: 4 – 6 ft.

Bottlebrush (Callistemon)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Tree or Shrub, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: Red
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Wind, Heat, Frost, Aridity, All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 20 ft. – 25 ft.
Width: Depends on Training

Cleveland Sage  (Salvia Clevelandii)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: purple
Soil Adaptations: Well drained
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 3 ft.
Width: 3 – 5 ft.

Coffeeberry (Frangula californica)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Spreading, Mounding
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Insignificant, Green
Flower Season: Spring
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 8 – 10 ft.
Width: 8 – 10 ft.

Pride of  Madeira  (Echium Candicans)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Non-Native
Foliage: Evergreen
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, summer
Flower Color: blue
Soil Adaptations
: Well Drained
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 5ft – 6 ft

Rosemary  (Salvia rosmarinus)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Shrub, Non-Native
Foliage: Evergreen
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: blue
Soil Adaptations
: Well Drained
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 3 – 6 ft

Coulter’s Matilija Poppy  (Romneya coulteri)

Importance to Bees: Minor
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: white
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 6 – 8 ft.
Width: 6 – 8 ft.
Invasive and Toxic to Livestock

Yankee Point Wild Lilac (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Yankee Point’)

Importance to Bees: Moderate (mainly native bees)
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Mounding, Arching
Foliage Color: Dark green
Flower Color: Blue
Flower Season: Winter, Spring
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 2 – 3 ft.
Width: 10 – 12 ft.

Pollinator Friendly Flowers

Viper's Bugloss  (Echium Vulgare)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Purple

Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 1 – 3 ft.

Common Sage  (Salvia officinalis)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: purple
Soil Adaptations
: Garden
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 1 - 3 ft.

California Goldenrod  (Solidago velutina ssp. californica)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower, Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Flower Color: yellow

Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 1 – 5 ft.

California Aster  (Symphyotrichum chilense)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Flower, Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer,  Fall
Flower Color: blue/lavender,yellow
Soil Adaptations
: Garden
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 1 – 3 ft.

Borage  (Borago officinalis)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Herb, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Fall
Flower Color: blue/purple

Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 2 – 3 ft.

Indian Blanket Flower  (Gailliardia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Sunflower Family
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: red/orange
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: Depends on variety.  4 - 6 in. or 1 - 2 ft.

Sunflower Red Sun  (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: yellow/orange
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure Adaptations: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 5  – 8 ft.

Yarrow  (Achillea)

Importance to Bees and Pollinators: Major
Food Source: Nectar, pollen
Plant Type: Herb, Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: white, yellow, gold, pink, or red
Soil Adaptations
: Garden
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Medium
Height: 2 – 3 ft.

African Blue Basil  (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal')

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Sterile hybrid, must be propagated by cuttings

Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Purple
Soil Adaptations
: Clay or Whatever
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Moderate
Height:  Up to 2 ft.

.

Mustard / Rapeseed  (Brassica napus)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Weed, Non-Native
By-Product: Canola Oil
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: Yellow
Soil Adaptations
: Clay or Whatever
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height:  Up to 3 ft.

.

Lacy Phacelia  (PhaceliaTanacetifolia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: blue/purple

Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 2 ft.
Highly Invasive

Purple Coneflower  (Echinacea purpurea)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: All Day Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Native
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: pink/purple
Soil Adaptations
: Clay
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low

Spanish Lavender  (Lavandula stoechas)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color:
purple
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low

Common Thyme  (Thymus vulgaris)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Food Source: Pollen
Plant Type: Flower
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color:
pink
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low

California Poppy  (Eschscholzia californica)

Importance to Bees: Minor
Food Source: Pollen
Plant Type: Flower, State Flower
Habit: Anywhere
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color:
orange
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Highly Invasive

Russian Sage  (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Importance to Bees: Minor
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Herbaceous Perenial
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Flower Color: blue
Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 2 – 4 ft.
Width: 3 – 3 ft.

Coreopsis  

Importance to Bees: Minor
Food Source: Nectar and Pollen
Plant Type: Flower, Sunflower Family
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: yellow

Exposure Adaptations: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 18 - 24 in.

Pollinator Friendly Groundcover

Wall Germander  (Teucrium chamaedrys)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Wildlife: Beneficials, Bees
Plant Type: Groundcover
Flower Season: Summer, Fall
Flower Color: Purple
Exposure: Full
Water needs: Low
Size: 8 - 16 in. high, spreading to 2 ft. wide

Partridge Feather  (Tanacetum densum amani)

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Beneficials, Bees
Plant Type: Groundcover
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: Yellow
Exposure: Full to half sun
Water needs: Low - moderate
Size: 6 - 8 in. high, spreading slowly to make a mat about 1 1/2 ft. wide
UC Master Gardeners

Crimson Clover  (Trifolium Incarnatum)

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Beneficials, Bees
Plant Type: Groundcover
Flower Season: Spring, Summer
Flower Color: Red
Exposure: Full to half sun
Water needs: moderate
Size: 12- 18 in. high

Red Creeping Thyme  (Thymus praecox)

Importance to Bees: Major
Wildlife: Bees, Butterflies
Plant Type: Groundcover
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: Red
Exposure: Full sun
Water needs: Low
Size: 3-6 in. high

Thyme  (Thymus vulgaris)

Importance to Bees: Moderate
Wildlife: Beneficials, Deer Resistant
Plant Type: Groundcover
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: White
Exposure: Full to half sun
Water needs: Low - moderate
Size: 3 in. high and 3 ft. wide
UC Master Gardeners

Lacy Phacelia  (PhaceliaTanacetifolia)

Importance to Bees: Major
Food Source: Nectar
Plant Type: Flower, Non-Native
Habit: Open
Flower Season: Spring
Flower Color: blue/purple

Exposure: All day sun
Water needs: Low
Height: 2 ft.
Highly Invasive