Butterfly on Highbush Cranberry Viburnum

Trees and Shrubs for Pollinator Gardens

Annuals and perennials aren’t the only game in town when it comes to supporting pollinators. Many trees and shrubs are perfect for pollinator gardens and offer not only food, but essential protection and habitat for an array of pollinators.

Another fantastic benefit of planting trees and shrubs for pollinators is that many support other kinds of wildlife as well! 

Shrubs for Pollinator Gardens

Serviceberries are heavy hitters in the pollinator garden. Their early bloom time provides food for pollinators early in the season, which is essential for establishing healthy colonies for the rest of the summer. After blooming, serviceberries set fruit that shows up in red, matures to a beautiful dark purple, and can be enjoyed by gardeners and birds alike. Many varieties also display nice fall color.

Viburnum’s lacey flower show is highly attractive to pollinators. Even better, the foliage serves as larval food for many species of butterfly. Try arrowwood viburnum for its lovely flowers, interesting foliage, and beautiful fruit. Viburnums are wonderful used as foundation, border, or specimen plants. 

Spirea may not be the first shrub that comes to mind when developing a pollinator garden, but the first time you see a group of happy bees rolling joyfully around on a blooming Spirea, you will change your mind. The low care needs and long bloom time are great for an easy addition to pollinator friendly foundation plantings.    

Trees for Pollinator Gardens

Crabapples are a pollinator magnet. If you’ve visited our nursery in spring, you know that walking through the flowering crab section is like witnessing pollinator Mardi Gras- vivacious consumption is guaranteed. The gorgeous flower display alone makes crabapples worthwhile, but their benefit to pollinators and wildlife makes them divine. 

Fast-growing and great for moist areas, willows are an excellent choice for pollinator friendly plantings. The fuzzy catkins that grow in spring are good early food for hungry insect pollinators and support hummingbirds as well. The foliage hosts a variety of butterflies too!

Oaks offer protection, habitat, and food for pollinators and wildlife in general and provide great shade for gardeners. Not only are they regal and long-lived, but oaks are important host plants for many butterflies. 

Interested in learning more about the basics of pollinator gardening? Take a look at our blog on Perennial Pollinator Garden Basics.