Skip to content

Native California Plants for Native Bees and Pollinators

California Plants for Native Bees and Pollinators

From bees the size of a grain of rice all the way to those giants of the bee world, the Xylocopa carpenter bees, you can begin to see that bees and other native pollinators fly around us in a range of shapes and sizes! With this range it is easy to see that native pollinators would retrieve pollen and nectar in different ways. It is important to keep in mind when planting to use a variety of flowers that will provide access to this great range of pollinators. Equally important is providing food for pollinators year round. This can be achieved by keeping in mind a calendar of color when you are choosing your plants. Manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.) are especially great, as they provide early flowers at the beginning of the season when fewer plants are blooming. Below are a few plants that we recommend; this of course isn’t a complete list, as it doesn’t even touch on the native annuals. We encourage exploration both for your interest and delight as well as the pollinators that will benefit! If it is native and you like it… give it a try, your native neighbors will likely enjoy it as well.

Su=Summer flowers; Sp=Spring flowers; W=Winter flowers; F=Fall flowers

List of Perennials


Achillea sp.

Arctostaphylos sp.

Dudleya sp.

Eriogonum sp.

Eriophyllum sp.

Acmispon glaber

Malacothamnus sp.

Monardella sp.

Oenothera sp.

Penstemon sp.

Salvia sp.

Solidago californica

Sphaeralcea ambigua

Symphyotrichum chilense

Trichostema lanatum

Verbena sp.

Common Name / Flower Season

Yarrow (Su)

Manzanita (W/Sp)

Live-forever (Sp)

Buckwheats (Su/F)

Golden yarrow (Sp/Su)

Deerweed (Sp)

Bush mallow (Sp/Su)

Coyote mint (Su)

Primrose (Sp)

California penstemons (Sp/Su)

California sages (Sp/Su)

California golden rod (Su) 

Apricot mallow (Sp/Su)

California aster (Sp/Su)

Woolly blue curls (Su)

Verbena (Su)

Large Shrubs and Trees


Arctostaphylos sp.

Ceanothus sp.

Ribes sp.

Chilopsis linearis

Berberis nevinii

Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea

Salix sp.

Symphoricarpos sp.

Baccharis pilularis

Peritoma arborea

Cylindropuntia sp.

Opuntia sp.

Prunus ilicifolia

Frangula (Rhamnus) californica

Senecio flaccidus

Common Name / Flower Season

Manzanita species (W/Sp) 

California lilacs (W/Sp)

Currants and gooseberries (W/Sp)

 Desert willow (Sp/Su/F) 

Gray blue bird bush (Sp) 

Blue elderberry (Su)

Willow species (Sp) 

Snowberry (Sp) 

Coyote bush (F/W) 

Bladderpod (Sp/Su)

Cholla species (Su)  

Prickly pear (Su)

Hollyleaf cherry (Sp) 

Coffeeberry (Sp/Su) 

Bush groundsel (Su)