Attracting Pollinators

Ever been to a garden center and thought, “what should I get?” Wandering up and down the isles to see what looks healthy and what’s the most eye catching? Or maybe just searching through pictures in seed catalogs? It turns out that pollinators “shop”  for plants too.

The character traits and qualities of certain flowers that make them more desirable  to a particular pollinator is referred to as “Pollinator Syndromes”.  Characteristics like, color, size, shape, amount of nectar, type of pollen, odor, and location all determine which pollinators are likely to pollinate that flower.

Pollinators are attracted to different plants because all pollinators are different. Their physical differences and needs make them choose which flowers to pollinate. Like a matching game. Whose tongue fits in which flower? Which flower is blooming while the pollinator is awake? Which smell does a pollinator prefer?

Planting preferred types of flowers is a way to target and attract more of a particular pollinator. Think of the list below of pollinators matched with their preferences as a shopping guide.


Color: white, yellow, blue or uv

Nectar Guide: present

Odor: fresh, mild, pleasant

Nectar: usually present

Pollen: limited; often sticky and scented

Flower Shape: shallow; with landing platform; tubular

For more info. on which plants each solitary bee likes check out these posts: mason beesgarden beetexana beecalifornica beesunflower bee.


Color: white, green or purple

Nectar Guide: none

Odor: strong and musty; emitted at night

Nectar: abundant; some what hidden

Pollen: ample

Flower Shape: bowl shaped; closed during the day


color: white or green

Nectar Guides: none

Odor: none to strongly fruity or foul

Pollen: ample

Flower shape: Large and bowl- shaped


color: scarlet, orange, red or white

Nectar Guides: none

Odor: none

Nectar: ample; deeply hidden

Pollen: limited

Flower shape: large; funnel-like, strong perch support


color: bright red and purple

Nectar Guides: present

Odor: faint but fresh

Nectar: ample; deeply hidden

Pollen: limited

Flower shape: narrow tube with spur; wide landing pad


color: pale or dark brown, purple

Nectar Guides: none

Odor: putrid

Nectar: usually absent

Pollen: limited

Flower shape: shallow; usually funnel like or complex with trap


color: pale red, purple, pink or white

Nectar Guides: none

Odor: strong sweet, emitted at night

Nectar: ample; deeply hidden

Pollen: limited

Flower shape: regular; tubular without a lip

A lot of the info from this post we found here.