Plant species spotlight

Listed below are ten species that we think are important to include in your Atlanta pollinator garden, and that will help you to get on the right track when you are beginning your garden. They have been compiled with a focus on providing species that are native, diverse in habitat, varied in floral type, color and bloom period, and are providers of both habitat and forage sources for our native pollinators.

Remember that the more diverse your garden, the more diverse your visiting pollinators will be! So go ahead and include as many of these species as you can, and check out our other resources and planting guides here for more ideas.

Remember the guidelines when planting any species in your pollinator garden:
                           Go native! Be diverse! and Be informed!

Please click on the pictures for a better view and to show photography credits and permissions.

1.  Wild Bergamot or Bee balm

Photo Credit: wiki commons, public domain, Author: Hardyplants

Photo Credit: wiki commons, public domain, Author: Hardyplants

Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Monarda
Species: fistulosa
Common name: Bee balm or wild bergamot
Range: Central and northern part of the state
Habit: Perennial herb, 2-4 feet
Cultivation: Sun to part shade, dry to moist soil, is heat tolerant
Blooms: Purple and light pink, May through September
Attracts: Long tongued bees, adult butterflies and larvae

2. Foxglove Beard tongue


Photo credit: Flickr user: Joshua Mayer

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Genus: Penstemon
Species: digitalis
Common name: Foxglove beard tongue
Range: Present in state
Habit: Herbaceous perennial matured to 4 feet
Cultivation: Well drained soils in full sun.
Blooms: White, June-July
Attracts: Bumble, mason, miner, and leaf cutter bees

3. Gray goldenrod

Gray golden rod: Photo credit: Wildflowers of the Escambia

Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Solidago
Species: nemoralis Aiton
Common name: Gray goldenrod, Prairie goldenrod
Range: Present throughout the state, present in three major counties in GAPP focus area
Habit: Perennial herb, grows 1-2 feet
Cultivation: Dry soil, varied light conditions, grows shorter and less aggressive than most other species
Blooms: Yellow, July through October
Attracts: Honey, carpenter bees and butterflies

4. Butterfly weed

Butterfly weed. Photo Credit: Ron Grundwald,

Butterfly weed. Photo Credit: Ron Grundwald,

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: tuberosa
Common name: Butterfly weed
Range: Common throughout the state
Habit: Bushy perennial, 1 to 1.5 feet
Cultivation: dry soils
Blooms: Red to yellow mostly orange, August through October
Attracts: Nectar supply for Monarch butterflies

5. Swamp milkweed

Photo Credit: wikipedia commons, Author: Teune

Photo Credit: wikipedia commons, Author: Teune

Family: Asclepiadaceae
Genus: Asclepias
Species: incarnata
Common name: Swamp milkweed
Range: Primarily a mountain species, found in the Piedmont and Coastal Plains
Habit: herbaceous perennial, 30 -60 inches high
Cultivation: moist to wet soils
Blooms: pink to mauve and sometimes white, early to mid summer
Attracts: larval host plant and adult nectar source for Monarch butterflies

6. Wild Lupine

Wild lupine. Photo credit: Charles and Diane Pierce, Michigan Wildflowers.

Wild lupine. Photo credit: Charles and Diane Pierce, Michigan Wildflowers.

Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Lupinis
Species: perennis L.
Common name: Sundial Lupine, Wild Lupine
Range: found in state, mostly to the southeastern counties
Habit: Perennial lupine with pea like flowers that top a 1-2 meter stem
Cultivation: Requires well drained soils
Blooms: Blue/purple early blooming – April, May, June and July
Attracts: Humming birds, bumblebees, larval host plant of frosted elfin butterfly

7. Purple Passionflower


Photo Credit: Flickr User: Valerie

Family: Passifloraceae
Genus: Passiflora
Species: incarnata
Common name: Purple passionflower
Range: Present in the state
Habit: Herbaceous perennial vine
Cultivation: Thrives in sunshine with minimum maintenance
Blooms: Large intricate purple flowers with prominent styles and stamens, July through September
Attracts: Exclusive larval host for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly

8. Late purple aster


Photo credit: Flickr user: Fritz Flohr Reynolds

Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Symphotrichum
Species: patens
Common name: Late purple aster
Range: Found within the state
Habit: Leaves encircle stem, 1-3 feet tall, perennial herb
Cultivation: bushy habit consider when planting, drought tolerant
Blooms: Deep violet ray flowers with a yellow disk, September – October
Attracts: Butterflies, bees, moths

9. Sweet mountain azalea

Sweet Mountain azalea Photo Credit: Doreen Montis, Flickr user: D. Montis, LIt Bird

Sweet Mountain azalea Photo Credit: Doreen Montis, Flickr user: D. Montis, Lit Bird. Permission given.

Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Rhododendren
Species: canescens
Common name: Sweet mountain azaleas,
Range: present in majority of state. Found in all counties in the Atlanta area
Habit: Hardy shrub, can grow up to 5 feet
Cultivation: Prefer acidic soils, partial to near full shade does best in moister soils, not very drought tolerant
Blooms: Pink white blooms, early March and April, fragrant
Attracts: Hummingbirds, large winged, long legged butterflies

10. Common Yarrow

Common yarrow Photo credit: Author:Edna Rey-Vizgirdas.

Common yarrow Photo credit: Author:Edna Rey-Vizgirdas.

Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Achillea
Species: millefolium L.
Common name: Common yarrow
Range: Throughout Georgia. Present in at least 3 urban Atlanta counties
Habit: Herbaceous perennial, stems can grow up to 3 ft.
Cultivation: Well drained soil in full sun, but will tolerate less favorable conditions
Blooms: white to pink ray and disc flowers, May-June, strong sweet scent
Attracts: Good companion plant, attracts predatory insects for pest control, a favorite in butterfly gardens