“I would like information on ordering flower seeds that would attract honey bees to my garden.” Question from Randy of Bastrop, Texas
Answer: There are loads of garden flowers that are easily grown from seed and especially attractive to bees. Considering your location, your bee plants should also be heat and drought tolerant. Here are a few easy-from-seed plants that will grow well in Bastrop. (There are many great catalogs for flower seeds. Select Seeds is a great option.)
Each year I grow my favorite flowers indoors from seed in Black Gold Seedling Mix under fluorescent grow lights, but a few of those on this list can be directly sown outdoors. (For a full seed-starting tutorial, click here!) Some of the easiest bee flowers for you include:
Purple Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
The colorful, delicate pink, rosy-purple, or white daisies of cosmos attract bees and butterflies. They also sprout and grow quickly.
Seed Starting: Lightly cover seeds with seed starter, keep them slightly moist until they sprout. These can also be started outdoors in spring after frosts have past. Work up your garden bed, sprinkle seeds across the weed-free ground, and then lightly cover the seeds with peat moss and gently water them in. Keep them lightly moist and expect sprouting within a week or two.
Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
These tough, native perennials flower in the first year from seed and last for years in the garden. Their large, purplish-pink flowers bloom through summer, attracting bees and butterflies. If fall, goldfinches and other songbirds eat their seeds.
Seed Starting: Lightly cover seeds with seed starter, keep them slightly moist, and maintain a temperature of 68º F. Germination should occur within three to four weeks, sometimes earlier.
Blanket Flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora)
Few summer bloomers can top the resilience, beauty, and ever-blooming nature of this tough, North American native, which is also a Texas native. It blooms in the first year from seed, and bees love it.
Seed Starting: Lightly cover seeds with seed starter, keep lightly moist and maintain a temperature of 68º F. Germination should occur within one to two weeks, sometimes a bit longer.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
Everyone loves sunflowers, and so do bees. Watch the video below to learn how to grow them.
Marigolds (Tagetes spp.)
Whether you prefer tall African marigolds or short French marigolds (Tagetes hybrids), these heat-loving annuals for bees sprout from seed in a snap. Start them as you would purple cosmos.
Zinnias (Zinnia elegans)
Zinnias come in low-growing forms fit for sunny border edges or containers. Tall forms are better for cutting gardens or large flower beds. Start them as you would purple cosmos.
Happy bee gardening!
Black Gold Horticulturist