10 Good Pollinator Plants To Mix With Pelargonium Geraniums

Garden — By on February 24, 2014 6:00 am

Red Geranium with Blue Door

When I was a little girl, I remember my grandmother’s bold red geraniums as the highlight of her patio garden (the pelargonium type, not the perennial geranium). Sitting in tall containers, the red flowers were bold statements against the white, 100 year old farmhouse she called home. In the modern garden I often see them as stand alone container plants (see above and below), yet there is an inherit issue with geraniums; they have lovely bold colors, but are tough to pollinate. Bees do not favor pelargonium geraniums and there have been studies that show pelargonium’s are one of the least favorite of all pollinators. Yet millions of the flowering plants are sold in garden centers every year. Below is a list 10 plants that attract pollinators by the droves – there are hundreds of other plants you can use to attract pollinators, but this will give you a good start in your container gardens.

10 Good Pollinator Plants To Mix with  Geraniums for Pollinator-Supporting Container Gardens:Proven Winners Verbena Violet Ice

  1. Alyssum
  2. Angelonia
  3. Basil
  4. Dwarf Bee Balm
  5. Catmint
  6. Globe Basil
  7. Lantana
  8. Lavender
  9. Greek Oregano
  10. Verbena (photo right)

While I still love the memory of my grandmother’s geraniums, and want you to continue to enjoy them in your garden. I hope you will consider designing your container gardens this season with a few pollinator plants to support the bees mixed in with your pelargoniums. Work to support the pollinators and help our environment when designing your container gardens this season!

Geranium Flower Planted In A Container Window Niche

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9 Comments

  1. Pam says:

    Hello, Did you know that George Washington wife used to grow geraniums so I’m wondering if they loss something along the way. It seems we are killing off our bees because of pesticides I wonder if it’s same thing happened to this flower. I never use it because I know it’s not natural but often crazy people want a senseless green lawn and what they do is kill everything else in sight.

    • Shawna says:

      I don’t know the answer to this. But I do know they are beautiful – I like them – I just wish they had more pollinator value.

      Mixing them in with plants that do attract pollinators seems to be the key. :-)

  2. Rachael says:

    We just moved to a new state and our new house did not have a single flowerbed in it. I’ve since gone flowerbed/garden/container garden crazy and they are all over. I did not see any bees when we moved in but I’m hoping that will change this spring/summer. Is there anything specific that will attract them? I have quite a few of the plants on your list already. I am really hoping to see a bunch of bumble bees this year as I’ve heard that’s a good sign of a happy yard. Any advice?

    • Shawna says:

      My best suggestion is to go to your local growing center and ask about native plants. The best way to attract native bees and butterflies is to provide them with a source of their favorite perennial food.

      Many people think that Butterfly Weed and other perennial plants are unattractive – I disagree. I think if you creatively group them and mix them in with your other favorite plants, that you can build an excellent pollinator garden to support your neighborhood beneficial insects.

      Good luck!

      Shawna

  3. Rachael says:

    Thanks I’ll do that. I need to find a local run business nearby. All I’ve seen so far are the huge chain garden centers and I never see employees when I go. I have put in a few plants that I know attract butterflies. I’ve actually seen a handful of them whizzing around the backyard the last few days. It was exciting to see!

  4. l. scott says:

    Hi Shawna, I am looking at getting Mason Bees from a small company called Crown Bees. http://www.crownbees.com in Washington. They ship nationally. They say that while Mason bees don’t make honey, one Mason bee can do the pollinating of 500 honey bees. They buy back cocoons from you once you have enough of your own bees and they then sell them to orchardists. It sounds like a wonderful idea and a small, personable company. I have also seen that big old rosemary bushes, not new ones, are very good for attracting honey bees. Here in Carmel, California, Earthbound Farms has a six foot tall bush, almost as wide, in their organic garden and it is just humming with bees. Thanks for the list!

  5. Ansa says:

    Here in South Africa we are fortunate to have a number of native Pelargonium species to replace the ‘sterile’ type sold in such masses. My favourite is the rose-scented pelargonium that I’m growing in a container by my front door, releasing its lovely scent every time I pass by. The flowers aren’t as showy but the insects love it. The problem with planting native is that you have to go to a bit more trouble to find the plants, which is why I love your list: it will attract the pollinators but is readily available at garden centers.

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