top of page

Bee Friendly Plants

We need bees to pollinate our flowers and vegetable gardens.
Bees need the nectar they get from flowering plants to make honey! Honey is their food... and also, our source of honey! Make your yard or garden a pollinator paradise!

The best strategy is to have some plants blooming at all possible times so that it is not a feast or famine situation for the bees. Even in winter bees are attracted to blooms of the non-native Rosemary. There are many bee-friendly plants native to Texas. None of them should require a great deal of work once they start growing. 

by Guy Thompson, from the Ladybird Johnson Wildlife Center website

Beneficial Trees and Shrubs for Bees from a program presented  by Phil Ainslie, April 2019

Honey Flow Calendar

January – Mistletoe – (produces abundant nectar according to the Texas Honeyplant book but hive population too low to
harvest much)

February – I’ve seen pollen but no honey flow coming in early February. Some Elm and wild mustard pollen, but mainly Dandelion and Henbit pollen

March – Dandelion

April – Yaupon Holly, Indian Blanket (this is the big honey flow – light and tasty. Shows up right after bluebonnet fades), 
Mesquite tree (the biggest honey source in the state)

May– Indian Blanket, Horsemint, Sweet Clover

June – Horsemint, Mesquite, Sweet Clover, Indian Blanket

July – none, Central Texas is scorched and even the roads melt.

August –  Broomweed (if rain occurs)

September – Broomweed, Goldenrod (main flow),  Asters

October – Goldenrod,

November – Broomweed (if moisture permits)



Beneficial Trees and Shrubs for Bees

Mountain Laurel: Small evergreen tree, often multi-trunked, up to 30 feet, very fragrant purple blooms in early spring.
Eve’s Necklace: Slender deciduous tree, 15-30 feet, fragrant wisteria-like pink blooms, re-seeds vigorously.
Mexican Buckeye: Deciduous shrubby tree up to 30 feet, multi-trunked, pink redbud-like blooms in early spring, readily re-seeds.
Guajillo: Shrub-like acacia up to 30 feet, very fragrant balls of white-to-cream-colored flowers in early spring, good source of nectar producing high quality honey. 
Huisache—Multi-trunked shrubby tree 15-20 feet, very showy orange-yellow flowers covering the whole tree in early spring, quite fragrant but thorny.
Goldenball Lead Tree: Evergreen, slender shrub or small tree up to 15 feet, many showy balls of golden-yellow flowers throughout spring and summer after rains.
Mexican Persimmon—Usually 10-15 feet but can reach 35, often multi-trunked, blooms while leafing out in March or April, smooth gray bark with the habit of peeling like crape myrtle, sweet fruit in mid to late summer, very drought tolerant. 
Common Hop Tree, Wafer Ash—Aromatic shrub or tree, 10-15 feet, small fragrant flowers in April, sun or shade, works as understory tree, good nectar source.
Live Oak—Pollen source in spring.
Anaqua, Sandpaper Tree—Semi-evergreen 20-45 feet, often with suckers or multiple trunks, sandpaper-like leaves, fragrant white flowers in April, good nectar source.
Almond Verbena—“Honey bee magnet,” 10-15 feet, full sun to part shade, mostly evergreen, strong fragrance, long blooming, fast growing, high heat tolerance (Argentina).
Desert Willow—From 15-40 feet, fragrant pink flowers after rain from late spring to fall, very drought tolerant.
Vitex—Fast grower, 15-25 feet, lilac blossoms May to Sept., drought tolerant, can form thickets, considered invasive in some areas (China, Japan).
Brasil, Bluewood Condalia—Thorny, much-branched, thicket-forming shrub or small tree, 12-36 feet, lime green leaves in early spring, greenish flowers June-Sept., fruit very desirable for mammals and birds, drought tolerant.
Western Soapberry—Attractive and hardy tree, 10-50 feet tall depending on soil conditions, large clusters of cream-colored flowers May-June, berries attractive to birds, berries traditionally used as soap substitute, good fall color.
Mexican Olive—South Texas tree 12-24 feet, sun to part shade, showy white flowers primarily late spring through summer, fruit attractive to mammals and birds.
Crape Myrtle—Many varieties and colors, 3-30+ feet, smooth gray bark with the habit of peeling, very heat tolerant, summer blooms important pollen source for bees and other insects,  (India and Southeast Asia).
Texas Kidneywood—Many-branched shrub or tree, up to 10 feet, fern-like foliage, small white flowers May to Oct., delicate fragrance, highly attractive to bees.
Evergreen Sumac—Small tree 8-12 feet, shiny green foliage, fast-growing, drought-tolerant, sometimes takes irregular shape, clusters of white flowers in the fall very attractive to bees, red berries in winter (female plants only) attractive to birds



White Honeysuckle, Texas Honeysuckle—Deciduous shrub 4-10 feet, very fragrant white flowers, earliest bloomer in the spring, orange-red fruit attractive to birds, very attractive to bees.
Elbowbush—Thicket-forming shrub to 10 feet, typically branches at right angles, small yellowish flowers in very early spring, good source of nectar.
Hogplum, Snakewood, Colubrina—Thicket-forming shrub, 3-6 feet with a rounded crown and a snakeskin-like pattern on the bark, small greenish-yellow flowers in late spring.
Agarita—Evergreen shrub 3-8 feet, leaves with sharp spines, very fragrant yellow flowers in early spring, edible fruit appearing May-July.
Salvia Guaranitica, Black and Blue Sage—From 2-5 feet, sun to part shade, deep blue flowers summer-fall, likes a little water in hot weather (South America).
Mealy Blue Sage—From 2-3 feet, blue to almost purple flowers April to Oct., sun to part sun, easy to grow, very desirable plant.
Yellow Bells, Esperanza—Clusters of trumpet-shaped yellow flowers, very showy, height from 3-9 feet, drought tolerant, sun to part shade (Be sure to purchase a southwestern rather than a tropical variety.)
Mexican Honeysuckle—Evergreen 3-4 feet, spread 4-6 feet, bright orange tubular flowers spring until frost, very heat tolerant, full to part sun, spreads readily/many “volunteers” (Mexico and South America) .
Rock Rose, Pavonia—From 3-6 feet, profuse pink blooms April-Nov., drought tolerant, sun to part shade, well-drained soil but will grow almost anywhere, seeds prolifically, many “volunteer,” very desirable.
Texas Lantana—From 3-6 feet, flowers red/yellow/orange in summer, drought tolerant, full sun, well-drained soil, deer-resistant.
Salvia Greggii, Autumn Sage—Mounding shrub, usually 2-3 feet (some cultivars larger than others), variety of colors from white to burgundy, blooms heaviest in spring and fall or after summer rains, nearly evergreen, drought tolerant.
Turk’s Cap, Texas Mallow—Usually 2-3 feet but up to 9, often as broad as it is tall, profuse red hibiscus-like flowers, blooms May-Nov., part shade to shade, drought tolerant but likes moisture
Bee Brush, Whitebrush—Up to 10 feet, sun to part shade, slender trunk, delicate leaves, prolific bloomer after rains March-Nov., vanilla-scented white blossoms, great for bees.
Cenizo, Purple Sage—From 2-8 feet, gray foliage with bright pink-lavender flowers, blooms spring-fall after rain, sun to part shade, drought and heat tolerant, needs good drainage.
Skeleton-Leaf Goldeneye, Resinbush—Much branched with rounded top, 2-4 feet, prolific yellow daisy-like flowers June-Oct., sun to part shade, very heat and drought tolerant, needs good drainage.
Velvetleaf Mallow—Up to 5 feet, velvety leaves, orange-yellow flowers June-Oct., part shade, well-drained soil, larval host for butterflies.
Indian Mallow—From 2-3 feet, much-branched, small orange-yellow flowers June-Oct., sun to part shade, drought tolerant, well-drained soil, liked by deer, larval host to butterflies.
Coralberry, Indian Currant--From 4-6 feet though often shorter, green-white clusters of flowers, showy coral-pink to purple, forms extensive colonies, part shade to shade, low water use  [pollen].
White Mistflower, Shrubby Boneset—Rounded shrub 2-6 feet, sun, drought tolerant, well-drained soil, moderately deer resistant, fall bloomer, fragrant white flowers.
Lindheimer Senna, Velvetleaf Senna—From 3-6 feet, sun to part shade, dry rocky soil, low water use, yellow flowers Aug.-Oct., larval host to butterflies.
Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia Leucantha—From 3-6 feet, fast grower in clumps, full sun to part shade, medium moisture, showy purple bloom summer to fall.
Salvia Madrensis, Forsythia Sage—From 6-8 feet, sun to partial shade, large heart-shaped leaves, thick stems, dramatic yellow flowers in the fall.
Frostweed—From 3-6 feet, part shade to shade, well-drained soil, low water use, deer resistant, white flowers in the fall, attracts butterflies, valuable to bees  


  • Zinnias

  • Cosmos

  • Petunia

  • Alyssum

  • Annual Daisy

  • Pansy

  • Poppies

  • Black-eyed Susan

  • Sunflowers

  • Snapdragons


  • Lantana

  • Lavender

  • Salvia

  • Bee Balm, (a.k.a Bergamot)

  • Russian Sage

  • Asters (for fall)

  • Butterfly Bush

  • Mint

  • Honeysuckle

  • Winter Honeysuckle

  • Queens Wreath (a.k.a. Coral Vine)

  • Wisteria

  • Lilacs

  • Coneflower

  • Coreopsis

  • Sedums


  • Rosemary

  • Garden Sage

  • Lemon Balm

  • Oregano

  • Mint

  • Thyme

  • Chives

RoundUp Alternatives for weed control

Trees and Shrubs

  • Native Oaks (provide bees with winter shelter and habitat)

  • Fruit Trees: plums, apples, crabapples, peaches, and pears

  • Redbud

  • Crape Myrtle

  • Texas Lilac (Vitex)

  • Desert Willow

  • Persimmon

  • Mexican Buckeye

  • Mexican Plum

  • Honey Mesquite

  • Magnolia

  • Acacia

  • Arroyo Sweetwood

  • Rose(s)

  • Kidneywood

  • Wildflowers 

    • Blanket Flower 

    • Mexican Hat

    • Basket Flower 

    • Verbena

    • Wild Mustard

    • Thistle

    • Milkweed

    • Goldenrod

    • Poppy

    • Horsemint

    • Zexmenia

bottom of page