Are you selecting the right plants to help pollinators thrive?

Bay Area Pollinator-friendly Plants | Pacific Nurseries

Every landscape project should support the vital work of pollinators | Pacific Nurseries

Spring is here and plants are blooming throughout the Bay Area. With the landscape coming to life from the dormancy of winter, your clients are more than likely asking you to install beautiful blooming flowers in their gardens.

But as a Landscape Professional, you have to answer an important question when selecting plants for your project.

“Are you planting the right specimens to attract and help pollinators thrive in the SF Bay Area?”

First, what is pollination?

When a pollen grain moves from the anther (male part) of a flower to the stigma (female part), pollination happens. This is the first step in a process that produces seeds, fruits, and the next generation of plants.

This can happen through self-pollination, wind and water pollination, or through the work of a select group of animals and insects that move pollen within the flower and from bloom to bloom.

Who does all of the pollination?

Birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees are the primary pollinators that provide this essential, life-sustaining service to our environment. They visit flowers to drink nectar or feed off of pollen and transport pollen grains as they move from spot to spot.

Bay Area Pollinators | Pacific Nurseries

Pollinators provide essential, reproductive + life-sustaining services to plants | Pacific Nurseries

Without the actions of these hard-working and diverse species, our food supply, surrounding landscapes, and economies that rely on agriculture would be at great risk.

Why should Landscape Pros help pollinators thrive in the Bay Area?

75% to 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination. And through the continuous work of pollinators, they provide essential reproductive services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops.

This natural, regenerative process provides huge benefits to all life on earth and to all of us here in the Bay Area including:

  • | Enabling growth of edible fruits, vegetables + nuts
  • | Preventing soil erosion
  • | Increasing carbon sequestration
  • | Providing +50% of the world’s oils, fibers + raw materials

As a Landscape Pro, it makes sense to support the critical work of these important plant partners in order to promote a healthy Bay Area landscape.

Are you choosing the right #plants to attract + sustain #pollinators in the Bay Area? Click To Tweet

Sustainers of life in jeopardy

Many pollinator populations are in decline due to a severe loss of feeding and nesting habitats and other environmental challenges. Recent data on this disturbing trend reveals:

  • | Monarch butterfly populations have declined by 90% over 20+ years
  • | Scientists consider 25% of bumblebee species in serious decline
  • | Pollution, chemical misuse, disease, and climate change are contributing to shrinking pollinator populations

Pollinator Partners hard at work

The dedicated people at Pollinator Partnership are on a mission to promote pollinator health through conservation, education, and research.

Executive Director, Laurie Davies Adams, shares the organization’s vision to advocate for an environment that is pollinator-friendly and that supports a sustainable, regenerating landscape. Click the play button below to hear Laurie.

Act responsibly + select the right plants

The best thing that a Landscape Pro can do to help out pollinators is to choose the right plants for your project.

Kelly Rourke, Director of Programs and Operations for Pollinator Partnership, adds:

“By embracing pollinator-friendly land management practices and providing native plant habitat, Landscape Professionals can promote and support the critical work of pollinators.”

Kelly Rourke | Pollinator Partnership

Research reveals that Bay Area gardens in both the suburbs and cities have more diverse pollinator communities than nearby wildlands. The data suggests that pollinators are unaffected by urban life as long as they have access to landscapes with the flowers and food that they need to thrive.

The result is that if you plan and build a landscape optimized for pollinators, they will naturally be attracted to it.

12 beautiful, pollinator-friendly plants to consider

With help from the Pollinator Partnership and some Bay Area Landscape Pros, we’ve assembled a group of great plants—mostly CA natives—that will support pollinators in your project. Consider one or all of them for a beautiful, flowering environment that your clients will love.

Sisyrinchium bellum

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Blue Eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium bellum | Pacific Nurseries

As a 1′ tall perennial, herb, Sisyrinchium bellum grows throughout California. This native beauty features small, pollinator-friendly, purplish-blue flowers from January to July. It then dies back to the ground in a dormant state over late summer. It prefers some moisture and good drainage but will tolerate summer dryness. It’s very easy to grow and will reseed freely. It also does best in flat areas with loamy soil that hold moisture well.

Brandon Young | SF Rec & Park Dept“Sisyrinchium bellum is one of my favorite perennials because it’s uniform in size, cold tolerant, and pollinators love it.”
Brandon Young | SF Rec & Park Department

Ribes sanguineum glutinosum

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | California Flowering Currant

Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum | Pacific Nurseries

Ribes sanguineum var. glutinosum is a deciduous shrub that features long, graceful pink flowers with 15–40 in a cluster. It blooms from January to March and produces blue-black berries. This is one of the most attractive native species in the Bay area. It is deciduous and will tolerate a range of soil conditions with moderate drought tolerance. Pollinators just love this beautiful plant!

Achillea millefolium

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Yarrow

Achillea millefolium | Pacific Nurseries

Achillea millefolium is a springtime flowering plant that blooms from May through June. As an exceptionally attractive plant to butterfly pollinators, it grows to 2-3′ and prefers full sun. It is frequently found in mildly disturbed grasslands and open forests and does well in soil that drains. This easy to grow native also looks best with regular watering.

Fuchsia thymifolia

Common name | Thyme Leaved Fuchsia

Fuchsia thymifolia | Pacific Nurseries

Fuchsia thymifolia is an evergreen shrub that grows to 4′ and about 3′ wide. It features dense, tiny, red flowers almost year-round, and it grows best in the cool, filtered shade with moderate watering. This handsome plant is one of the most attractive plants to hummingbirds and provides needed food through the California fall and winter seasons.

Sophia Blocher |  Pacific Nurseries“Fuchsia thymifolia is the the perfect graceful addition to a garden when you want dapples of dainty pink color that hummingbirds go crazy for.”
Sophia Blocher | Pacific Nurseries

Mimulus aurantiacus

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Sticky Monkey

Mimulus aurantiacus | Pacific Nurseries

Mimulus aurantiacus is a flowering, perennial, CA native plant that grows up to 4′. It features deep-green, sticky leaves and flowering stems that grow vertically. The flowers are showy, tubular at the base and occur commonly in a bright, school-bus orange color. There are also varieties that sport white to red flowers. Pollinators including bees and hummingbirds just love this plant. It is drought-tolerant but prefers occasional summer watering to extend the blooming season.


CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Manycolored Lupine

Lupinus variicolor | Pacific Nurseries

As a California native, Lupinus is endemic to the California coast and is found mostly in this region. It grows in full sun as a ground cover, preferring coastal conditions on grassy slopes and natural areas throughout the Bay Area. Lupine’s beautiful blue flowers bloom prolifically through Spring and Summer attracting pollinators including many different species of bees, butterflies, and birds. It is also a host plant for the threatened Mission Blue Butterfly.

Daniel Clarke | Friends of the Urban Forest“Lupine’s beautiful blue flowers bloom prolifically through Spring and Summer attracting pollinators of all kinds, including bees, butterflies and birds.”
Daniel Clarke | Friends of the Urban Forest

Epilobium canum

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | California Fuschia

Epilobium canum | Pacific Nurseries

Epilobium canum is a beautiful, CA native, perennial plant that features a profusion of bright scarlet flowers that bloom in summer through autumn. Often, it’s the only native plant flowering at the height of summer. It’s very easy to grow and does best in full sun. Once established, it requires little water and it can get straggly after flowering in late fall or early winter. Many experts agree that there are few California native plants that attract hummingbirds and pollinators better than this beauty.

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Skylark’

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Blueblossom

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Skylark’ | Pacific Nurseries

Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘Skylark’ features dark blue flower clusters that bloom profusely in the spring and serve to attract pollinators. This smaller growing variety of Ceanothus will reach to 3’ tall and about as wide. It tolerates coastal conditions and does well in heavy, clay soil while preferring full sun with a tolerance for dry shade.

Heteromeles arbutifolia

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | California Holly

Heteromeles arbutifolia | Pacific Nurseries

Heteromeles arbutifolia—also know as Toyon—is a perennial shrub native to California. It is well-adapted to the coast and appears prominently in this region. As a drought-tolerant native it grows to about 8′, and it prefers full sun with part shade. In fall, and throughout winter, it produces a profusion of bright red berries that pollinators love. It can also accommodate a wide variety of soils, including clay, sand and serpentine.

Vaccinium ovatum

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | California Huckleberry

Vaccinium ovatum | Pacific Nurseries

Vaccinium ovatum is a is slow-growing, long-lived, CA native shrub that grows along the coast. It grows upright to 8′ featuring urn-shaped, white flowers that bloom through spring. Fruits are blue or black and edible by pollinators. Leaves are small and medium-green color with new, spring growth that is red. It does best in wet meadows and on slopes with a preference for the sun with some shade.

Iris douglasiana

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Douglas Iris

Iris douglasiana | Pacific Nurseries

Iris douglasiana is an attractive, seasonal, wildflower that is common in grasslands near the coast. As a fast grower, this beautiful flowering plant prefers part or full shade and richer soils. It does best in naturally wet areas but is more drought-tolerant near the coast where it has access to cooler temperatures and fog. Flowers can have a wide range of colors from dramatic royal violet to predominantly white with yellow flecking. Pollinators are attracted to this beauty.

Jason Fuller | Pacific Nurseries“Hummingbirds just love Iris douglasiana in my garden and they come in so many beautiful colors.”
Jason Fuller | Pacific Nurseries

Rubus calycinoides/pentalobus

CA Native Plant | Pacific NurseriesCA Native  Common name | Creeping Raspberry

Rubus calycinoides/pentalobus | Pacific Nurseries

Rubus calycinoides/pentalobus is an evergreen, low-growing shrub often used in rock gardens, on slopes, and as a ground cover plant. It features small, edible, salmon-red colored berries that attract butterflies and other pollinators. It blooms in summer with petite white flowers in a dense carpet of foliage that reaches only 4″ high. It prefers sun with some shade and it can tolerate drought, heavy, clay soil and coastal, salt air.


Common name | Sage

Salvias | Pacific Nurseries

Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the mint family and includes annual, biennial, perennial and woody subshrubs. The stems are typically angled or square. Many members of the Salvia genus have small hairs growing on the leaves, stems, and flowers which help to reduce water loss. The hairs often secrete oils that give a distinct aroma to the plant. When the hairs are rubbed or brushed, some of the oil-bearing cells are ruptured, releasing the oil and scent. When Salvias flower, they produce a showy display that is exceptionally attractive to pollinators with colors ranging from deep blue to bright red, with some white. Salvias come in many attractive varieties that prefer sun including: S. leucantha, S. clevelandii, S. microphylla, S. spatahcea, S. chiapensis, S. elegans and many more.

John Herbert | Gentle Giant Gardening + Landscape“In my experience, I’ve found that Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’ and Borago officinalis do a great job of attracting Mason bees and bumble bees.”
John Herbert | Gentle Giant Gardening + Landscape

More plants that pollinators love

For a larger and even more extensive plant list of pollinator-friendly plants for Bay Area gardens, download this list helpful resource and keep it on-hand as you plan your plant selections. While not every plant on this list is currently in production, please let us know about any specimen that you are interested in. We will do our best to provide it or suggest a relevant alternative.

Download Pollinator-Friendly Plant List

Pollinator-friendly checklist for Landscape Pros

In order to promote pollinator-friendly, Bay Area landscapes, we’ve prepared a handy checklist for Landscape Pros.

Share it with your community or bookmark it in your browser handy for review before you finalize your project plant list.

icon-check-circle | Choose plants that attract pollinators
icon-check-circle | Reduce + eliminate use of pesticides
icon-check-circle | Support local bees + beekeepers
icon-check-circle | Buy locally produced honey + organic foods
icon-check-circle | Support groups promoting science-based efforts to aid pollinators
icon-check-circle | Become a member of Pollinator Partnership
icon-check-circle | Reach out to inform + inspire others
Check the #checklist to plan + install a #pollinator-friendly #landscape. | Pacific Nurseries Click To Tweet

Ready to help pollinators even more?

Scientists and researchers have been studying pollinators for over three decades and they have been able to show that conservation techniques work.

Landscape Pros, homeowners, local governments, and private industry, all working together can change the outcome for pollinators at risk and secure their healthy future for us all.

If you’re interested in financial support for this important work, your donation would be appreciated.

Serving Landscape Professionals for over 150 years

Serving Landscape Professionals for over 150 years | Pacific NurseriesIf you’re looking for pollinator-friendly plants or advice—from one plant to an entire installation—we’ve got you covered.

As both a grower and a plant broker, we’re ready to work with you to provide just the right trees and native, water-wise plants that will attract pollinators and make your project a success.

It’s one of the many qualities that has made us different from just an ordinary nursery for over 150 years.

To get a plant material Estimate or to place an Order, just click on over to use our ONLINE ESTIMATE | ORDER FORM.

I need an Estimate

Share your favorite pollinators.

Have you installed any great pollinator attracting plants in your recent projects? Share the plants that pollinators just can’t get enough of in your Bay Area garden.