Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

What are your top 10 native nectar plants

I think it's neat to find out what native species attract butterflies, bees, and other insects. For me, the top 10 plants I have are:

Diervilla lonicera
Sassafras albidum
Asclepias spp.
Vernonia gigantea and V. missurica
Solidago spp.
Clethra anlifolia
Allium cernuum and A. tricoccum
Lindera benzoin
Rosa palustris, R. blanda. R. setigera, and R. carolina
Lupinus perennis
Cephalanthus occidentalis
Phlox paniculata and P. maculata
Rudbeckia spp.
Monarda spp.
Asimina spp.
Salvia azurea
Mimulus ringens
Chelone spp.
Aristolochia tomentosa and A. serpentaria
Salix spp. (native willows)
Echinacea (even the cultivars)
Dalea candida and D. purpurea
Liatris spicata

Oops, went way past 10 but got to thinking about some sleeper plants and couldn't help myself.

Green Thumb
Posts: 439
Joined: Thu Nov 09, 2006 11:17 am
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b

Lindera benzoin
Ceanothus americanus
Cephalanthus occidentalis

Asclepias spp.
Aster spp.
Houstonia spp.
Liatris spp.
Nepeta spp.
Sedum spp.
Solidago spp.

There is no science to this list it is just the plants I commonly notice loaded with pollinating insects when in bloom. My runners up list would be a very long one and would certainly include Clethra alnifolia. Two tree species that struck me as important in the Midwest are Tilia americana and Celtis occidentalis (the latter more as a larval food species for butterflies) but both are very uncommon here.

Edit addendum below
Duoh! Apparently I had a Homer Simpson moment as the "native" criteria failed to register. Scratch the Sedums, Nepetas, Liatris (very rare here), and Ceanonathus (also very rare here). Add instead:
Clethra alnifolia

Chelone glabra
Eupatorium spp.
after those it gets tricky but I guess I would lean towards Apocynum spp.
Last edited by MaineDesigner on Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Senior Member
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:10 pm
Location: WI z4

The top nectar plants in my area:

Prunus americana - Wild Plum
Physocarpus opulifolius - Ninebark
(This shrub even attracts some of the normally non-nectaring butterflies)
Spiraea alba - White Meadowsweet
Cephalanthus occidentalis - Buttonbush
Ceanothus herbaceus - New Jersey Tea
(This shurb serves double duty by attracting many small insects that the hummingbirds use for food)

Monarda fistulosa - Bee Balm
Liatris spp. - Blazing Stars
(Perhaps the favorite Monarch butterfly nectar plants)
Agastache spp. - Hyssops
Echinacea spp. - Coneflowers
Lobelia cardinalis - Cardinal Flower
(The hummingbirds will actually guard these flowers like they do a feeder)
Eupatorium maculatum - Joe Pye Weed
Eupatorium perfoliatum - Boneset
Solidago spp. - Goldenrods
(There are many choices besides the aggressive Canadian Goldenrod)

Garden Spider
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:07 pm
Location: Western Washington

In my area:

Red Flowering Current (Ribes sanguineum)
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium, M. nervosa, and M. repens)
Orange Honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)
Hardhack (Spirea douglasii)
Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale
Blueblossom (Ceanothus thrysiflorus)
Snow Brush (C. velutinus)
Columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)
Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus)
Monkeyflower (Mimulus cardinalis)
Penstemon species
Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii)
Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)

There are many more; these are the ones that immediately came to mind. The Red Flowering Current is so valuable as a nectar plant, Hummingbirds time their spring migration to follow its bloom times all along the West Coast and the inland western states. Penstemons are also important nectar sources and host plants for butterflies and their caterpillars, as well as important for bees and hummingbirds.

Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2008 10:38 pm
Location: wauconda, IL

Not only do you have to plant nectaring plants for the have to plant plants that their larvae can feed on. No larvae, no adults. And that means you have to garden to attract bugs, too.

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