Pollinator container gardens are an excellent way to attract and support beneficial insects like bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators in your yard, no matter how much outdoor space or time for gardening you have. Plus, a big benefit of inviting pollinators to your containers is that you get to see the visiting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds up close as they visit.
(Above) Evolution™ Colorific™ Coneflower, Sombrero® Salsa Red Coneflower, and Northwind Switchgrass make a striking pollinator-friendly container combo.
A successful pollinator container garden will include a variety of flowering plants that bloom throughout the growing season. The more flowers the better! Try to incorporate water sources nearby, like a shallow dish filled with pebbles, to provide the necessary hydration for visiting pollinators. When choosing containers for your pollinator container garden, be sure to choose one with adequate drainage and size appropriate for the plants. Make sure to plant your pollinator-friendly plant in nutrient-rich soil and water it regularly.
Creating a pollinator container garden is a quick, easy way to bring more bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your space — you could accomplish any of these in an afternoon! Ready to get started? Get several ideas for pollinator-friendly plant combinations and one-pot wonders for your containers below, plus a list of our favorite pollinator plants for containers and hanging baskets.
Colorful Pollinator Container Combos
Creating colorful pollinator-friendly plant combinations for containers is a great way to add beauty to your outdoor spaces while also providing a valuable resource for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Plus, it's easy! Follow the container design tips below, and discover your favorite plants for your perfect container.
When choosing plants for your container, remember to follow the thriller-filler-spiller rule, a popular guideline for creating visually appealing container gardens:
- The "thriller" is a tall, eye-catching plant that serves as the centerpiece and draws attention to the container.
- The "filler" is a medium-sized plant with a mounding habit that fills in the space between the thriller and the edge of the container.
- The "spiller" is a plant with a trailing habit that cascades over the edges, adding a soft, visually appealing finishing touch.
Some great choices for pollinator-friendly container gardens include bright and colorful flowers like agastache, salvia, lantana, beardtongue, Peruvian lily, and many more (see our favorites below).
Using just one pollinator-friendly plant in a container is an easy and effective way to create a simple yet eye-catching and pollinator-attracting container. You could plant just about any pollinator-friendly perennial or annual in the appropriate container, as long as you have the right growing conditions for that plant. However, there are some perennials we adore in containers, thanks to their abundance of blooms, fragrance, and/or habit. Lavender, for instance, is a bee-friendly favorite that's perfect for planting in containers where its beloved fragrance can be enjoyed. See more of our favorites below.
Favorite Plants for Pollinator-Friendly Containers
An incredibly compact and dense lantana with a non-stop show of vibrant, multi-colored flowers that start out as delicate chiffon yellow before transitioning into a rich fuchsia pink. A fantastic long-blooming option for container gardens. Full sun. Up to 30" tall and wide. Zones 9-11.
An enchanting green cone at the heart of dense petals in varying shades of pink creates a delightful visual palette. Robust, upright stems and lush foliage makes this plant truly stunning in garden beds and containers alike. Full sun. Up to 20" tall, 18" wide. Zones 4-9.
This compact hybrid plant is perfect for bringing a cheerful and carefree summer vibe to your garden and containers. The coral-pink flower spikes attract hummingbirds and bloom from late spring through fall. Up to 20" tall, 16" wide. Up to 5-10. Zones 5-10.
Bees and butterflies love the abundant blooms of boldly colored, shaggy lilac-purple flowers that sit atop a compact plant with dark green, fragrant, minty-basil-scented foliage. This plant is highly resistant to powdery mildew, making it a reliable choice for sunny borders and containers. Partial to full sun. Up to 12" tall, 10" wide. Zones 4-9.
Long-blooming, showy, and abundant spikes of large purple flowers serve as a valuable source of nectar for bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Its vigorous, bushy, and compact habit makes it an ideal choice for containers. Full sun. Up to 22" tall, 16" wide. Zones 5-9.
Javelin Forte™ Deep
Rose Spanish Lavender
A new variety that blooms early with a profusion of large, purple summer flowers accompanied by deep rose-colored bracts. The plant has a robust, rounded, mounding habit with fragrant, gray-green foliage, making it an excellent choice for containers. Full sun. Up to 20" tall, 18" wide. Zones 7-9.
Notably heat, humidity, and drought-tolerant, making it an excellent choice for summer gardens and containers. The plant explodes with dark purple buds that open into vibrant purple flowers, blooming continuously, inviting pollinators all summer long. Partial to full sun. Up to 24" tall and wide. Zones-11 (or grow as annual).
This exceptional, compact variety boasts finely-textured, aromatic gray-green foliage and delicate, soft lavender flower spikes that are beloved by bees. This sterile dwarf cultivar is perfect for cascading off walls or container edges. Partial to full sun. Up to 16" yall, 36" wide. Zones 5-9.
This plant features the largest pincushion flowers, charmingly scented with a honey-like aroma and colored in a beautiful violet-blue shade. The 3-inch wide blooms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Full sun. Up to 20" tall, 15" wide. Zones 4-9.
Eyed Girl Helianthus
This award-winning annual sunflower offers extraordinary summer color with its large, vibrant blooms. As a non-invasive, multi-branching, heat-tolerant plant, it produces over 1,000 flowers in a single season, from spring until first frost. It's perfect for brightening any container garden. Full sun. Up to 3' tall and wide. Grow as an annual.
This heavy bloomer is a must-have for sunny, pollinator-friendly beds and container plantings! Its large flowers boast two rows of bright orange-red petals with yellow tips, making it exceptionally stunning. Plus, it blooms continuously from late spring or summer right up until frost. Full sun. Up to 14" tall and wide. Zones 5-10.
With its dramatic red flowers and yellow throat, this plant creates a striking contrast against its glossy green foliage, plus pollinators like butterflies and bees love to pay it a visit. It will continue to bloom if spent flower stems are promptly removed. Partial to full sun. Up to 12" tall, 24" wide. Zones 8-11 (or grow as an annual).
Perfect Pollinator-Friendly Plants for Hanging Baskets
This super hybrid boasts large, vibrant flowers that bloom continuously from spring through fall, lasting until the first hard frost. Perfect for containers and hanging baskets, where its stunning blooms are frequented by hummingbirds. Partial to full sun. Up to 14" tall, 18" wide. Zones 10-11 (or grow as an annual).
Photo by Sakata
Non-stop blooms attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies all summer and fall! Well adapted to hot conditions, and drought tolerant once established. The tidy, rounded habit is perfect for containers. Full sun. Up to 2' tall, 3' wide. Zones 8-11 (or grow as an annual).
With a slightly trailing habit, this plant is perfect for hanging baskets and containers. Bold yellow sterile flowers bloom prolifically spring through summer, or nearly year-round in frost-free regions. Full sun. Up to 18" tall, 30" wide. Zones 10-11 (or grow as an annual).
More Information About Pollinator-Friendly Gardening
- Take a look at the pollinator section of the blog for a variety of stories about pollinator-friendly gardening
- Free Backyard Habitat Guide with Landscape Plans
- Easy Pollinator Garden Ideas
- Modern Meadow: A fresh take on pollinator garden design
- What to Plant to Attract Butterflies, Hummingbirds, and Bees
- Ask an Expert: Best Pollinator Plants for the Garden
- Beneficial Insects for a Healthy Garden: A Visual Guide
- Best Early-Spring Flowering Plants to Attract Pollinators
- 10 Early-Blooming, Cold-Hardy Plants for Pollinators
- Late Summer and Fall-Blooming Perennials
- Grow a Pollinator Border
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