Herbs for Pollinators

Thu. May. 30, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show:  Herbs for Pollinators

I talk a lot about pollinators and plants. An item in my Northern Gardener magazine caught my eye, planting HERBS for pollinators!  Now I’ve told you before that swallowtail caterpillars LOVE parsley and dill. 

Black Swallowtail caterpillar (early stage)

This is a great reminder to plant enough to help the pollinators!  

I love dill in many dishes including fish. It’s not just for pickles, it’s also fab in sauces!  Parsley is another great herb for pollinators and people! Recipes for parsley from Taste of Home including bleu cheese stuffed shrimp!

There are other herbs that pique the interest of pollinators including fennel which is in the same family as dill and parsley. The whole fennel can be used. The feathery leaves as an herb, the fronds AND the bulb can be chopped and added fresh to salads for a licorice crunch. They’re also great roasted and in stir-fry. Some tips on fennel from Martha Stewart… okay, so I’ll never be Martha and have no desire to be, however, this is good info!  This farro salad with fennel looks totally fab!

As for growing, it’s too late to start bulb fennel (aka florence fennel) for those of us in cold climate. It’s best to start it indoors from seed earlier OR you can purchase a bulb fennel plant. There’s also herb fennel. Do NOT plant fennel with dill or coriander. In fact, it’s best to plant it in it’s own container! It can grow to 5 ft tall and self sows. Here’s more from The Spruce.

Anise hyssop aka agastache

Anise hyssop

and monarda aka bee balm

Bee balm – native

are both in my butterfly garden but they can also be used to flavor tea!

While we typically snip our herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, sage, thyme and mint, you can also let some of them flower for the pollinators. The snipping is great for a couple of reasons, first our tastebuds! Second, it makes for fuller plants.

I preserve a lot of my herbs but I’ve also left some for the bees. You can place herbs in any part of a sunny garden. They’re look and texture is wonderful in mixed plantings.