What Can I Plant for Pollinators on My Balcony?
I live in an apartment with a balcony. What can I plant for pollinators?
Whether you have a balcony, a rooftop, or a patio, you can still plant many pollinator-supporting native plants in containers. It’s best to stick with perennials or small-sized woody plants, since the root volume of larger shrubs and trees may far exceed even the size of a large pot. Whatever you plant, be generous with the size of the container to give plants space to grow above and below the soil level.
The same basic rule applies when choosing native plants for containers or a landscape – emphasize regional native plants that are adapted to your site. You might also consider some smaller cultivars of native plants that will be better suited to a container.
Not all pollinators can utilize all native plants, so plant a diverse array of species in as many pots as you can squeeze onto your balcony! Here are some great native choices to get you started:
Dicentra eximia (Wild Bleeding Heart)
Geranium maculatum (Wild Geranium)
Geum triflorum (Prairie Smoke)
Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy Beardtongue)
Phlox subulata (Moss phlox)
Zizia aptera (Golden Alexanders)
Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)
Echinacea purpurea ‘Kim’s Knee High’ (dwarf cultivar of Purple Coneflower)
Eutrochium dubium “Bably Joe’ (dwarf cultivar of Joe Pyeweed)
Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint)
Scutellaria incanum (Downy Skullcap)
Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ (dwarf selection of New England Aster)
Boltonia asteroides ‘Jim Crocket’ (dwarf selection of false aster)
Eurybia divaricata (White Wood Aster)
Helianthus salicifolius ‘Low Down’ (dwarf selection of Willowleaf Sunflower)
Helenium flexuosum ‘Tiny Dancer’ (dwarf selection of Purplehead Sneezeweed)
Solidago sphacelata ‘Golden Fleece’ (selection of Short-Pappus Goldenrod)
Since you are planting perennials, not annuals with constant bloom, consider planting several different species with different bloom times. You can also include plants that have interesting foliage.
Plants in containers dry out much faster than plants in a landscape, so stay on top of the watering, keeping in mind the ideal conditions for the plants – pH, soil drainage, full sun vs. shade, moist soil vs. dry soil, etc. Make sure to use plants that tolerate the same conditions in the same pot.
If you use frost-proof containers and mulch around the pots over winter, you can keep your native plants in containers all year-round, even in colder climates. Keep the soil biology going by adding compost and leaves.
Thanks for supporting pollinators!
Happy Planting! from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!
Photo: Butterflyweed feeding a bee (after it fed a few Monarch caterpillars)
More from Ask EcoBeneficial!
Question: I have a couple beds of Ninebarks and Viburnums and they’ve been there about two or three years. So I’m thinking it’s time to create a living mulch around them. Can you recommend a few plants for ground cover that have ecological benefits, and will fill in around these…Read More
Question: What are some native, deer-resistant flowering perennials for wet meadows in the Northeast? Answer: As you likely know, no plant is deer bomb-proof. In the absence of adequate forage, deer will browse just about anything. Young fawns may nibble on plants that make them sick, as they have not…Read More
Question: I understand that berries of some winterberry cultivars may be too big for birds and may have less nutrition. Should I buy winterberry cultivars? I am in Maryland and have not seen the straight species anywhere. Will deer browse winterberry? Answer: I prefer to use straight species plants whenever…Read More