Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Plants for bees: Verbena Bonariensis

Verbena bonariensis still flowering in October

Verbena bonariensis still flowering in October

Verbena Bonariensis is a native from the grasslands of south America so their version of meadows but is much taller than our meadow plants because their grasses are much taller (the home of the pampas!)

It is long flowering, drought tolerant, very hardy - forming a woody base after a few seasons - and looks good in formal borders or more prairie planting styles. Even though it flowers to 150cm or more, because it is light and airy, it can be grown amongst other plants without blocking shorter things behind it.

We grow it because it is a superb for pollinators with bees and butterflies taking turn to feast in different conditions throughout the year. At rosybee I have a block of about 10 plants that are now 3 years old a cover a 4 square meter area making them a bold attraction for pollinators. During June I frequently observed a mass of 30+ butterflies on them on sunny mornings, usually tortoiseshells but sometimes red admirals. Then on days when the butterflies we not doing their flash-mob, there would be up to 8 honeybees per square meter.....and then there were days when it was mainly bumblebees.  I think this indicates some sort of foraging hierarchy but also reflects the mass-emergence of butterflies under specific weather conditions.

Our verbena bonariensis started flowering in June and is still flowering now, in mid-October. The picture above shows that the bees are still finding benefit so this plant will now be in our 'top 10' for bees.

by rosi