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New Plantings for 2016


I know I am lucky with the San Diego, California climate, but I was wondering what other people might be planting for their bees this year?

We just got approval to put a beehive in our local Community Garden (translation to British = allotment), and we feel that we should plant something bee friendly to show some gardening spirit too. We are not allowed to plant narcotics, so let’s skip that concept! San Diego is still in a drought, and while the garden has hoses available, water wisdom is encouraged.

With that in mind, the following are on my short list so far:
French Lavender (a bit picky, but I love it)
Rosemary (grows easily here and bees love it from December to March)
Sedum Autumn Joy (bees swamp this in autumn)
South African Blue Basil (never tried it before, but I heard it might be a good choice)
Passion Fruit vines (I love the fruit)

Any other ideas? What are you guys in the rest of the world planting, or do you just rely on neighbouring forage?


I’ve been going through my seed list:

and already in the garden: (or very close by)
Some Jelly Bush and manuka plants
Snow Drops
Black berries
Mock orange
Grape Hyacinth
Spring onions
Oriental Poppy

Just what I can think of.

I’m putting together a planting chart and flowering time so I cover the whole year


In our home garden, we have avocados, orange, lemon, tangerine and poppies to name a few, but I can’t put those in the Community Garden. The community garden also has a lot of Eucalypts around it in a nearby park, so I am sure that the bees will forage from those too. Just want to make our little apiary attractive to human eyes. :smile:


Cough cough (busso is clearing throat)

I have a couple of suggestions.
1st. Varigated Cumquat. This is a stunning plant gets to 2.5m or so, the foliage is interesting and if its not flowering the fruit is eyecatching

This is ours and about 15 years old.

2nd. Grevillea Honey Gem Cultivar from Grevillea banksii (red form) and Grevillea pteridifolia… We have maybe over 50 grevillea’s with at least 4 or 5 flowering at any time throughout the year. Unfortunately commercialisation has brought a thousand varieties so it makes it hard to know what to suggest but Honey Gem is outstanding. Flowers for up to 6 months(Oct through to Apr here), is hardy and doesn’t need watering when established (after second summer) and can take pruning to keep its form. Bees love it.

That fence is 1.4 m tall so I guess plant is about 2.5-3 m

Sorry about the focus ( background foliage is well focussed :slightly_smiling:)


Looks like your drunkard bees are hanging out on that fuzzy flower - must be their drunkenness that is affecting the camera! :smile:

I like the Grevillea idea, thank you. We already have more citrus in our home garden than we should, and I don’t think the Community Garden would welcome a kumquat, but I agree, bees like the flowers!



Heaven forbid it’s me at 9:00 AM this morning.:sunglasses:


Just a little off topic, but if you have a water issue, make sure that the soil is covered with organic matter ALL THE TIME! I use rabbit manure, but grass cuttings or any other plant material works well too. Covering the soil prevents the sun from reaching it and drying it out. Watering should be done after sunset so the water can seep away rather than evaporating. Plus the material will rot over time, enhance underground mikrofauna and fertilize the ground.

Sage is a great bee plant, also lavender and other herbs. In Germany we are more limited than you in California. I have an long row of Silphium perfoliatum (not sure about the english common name). And I allow local “weeds” to grow and flower.


I forgot I have a kumquat and lemon trees in the front - little ones they are not so good in our climate and a Gardenia in the porch - from a cutting last year from my sister when I was in Oz


Bees love herbs.
I leave mint and oregano to flower and the bees are always all over it


Never had much success with mint here. I think the soil is too dry. Plus insects love to eat it - lacy holes all over the leaves, same thing with basil. I haven’t tried oregano, but given that it grows in Greece and Turkey, it might be worth a try. Thank you!


Yes Mint needs to be in a pot to stop it spreading and well watered.

French marigolds with Some plants - basil, Mint etc - it is something to do with the pyrethrum I think - and growing basil between Tomatoes helps the tomato bugs as well.

I love Greek oregano it has the best flavour - that is what I grow


Greek oragano is nice (stronger flavor) n I have a yellow (very fading green) that is a great contrast. If you want flat/prostrate growing. There are some nice very low growing thymes as well ! I like to grow mints, n lavenders in my herb garden … Your hot n drier climate will be nice for some herbs, plants n bushes. I often use different grasses as well. I owned n operated a greenhouse, plant nursery n landscape service but I do not know as much about dry/arid plants … One other unique plant the bees love is called “Gaura lindheimeri”… Bees n butterflies love it n it’s drought tolerate as well. There is this pink n a white variety. Might worth looking at it. Hope this helps. Gerald.


Hi Dawn,

I used to live in San Diego but now live in Adelaide, Australia which also has a mediterranean climate. Go Aztecs! :slight_smile:

Have a look at the Gaura varieties, they’re very showy perrenials with long sprays of flowers. Mine reseed themselves each year.

Also, Crepe Myrtle and the Leptospermums if you need any hedges or height to the garden.


Hi, I’d never seen Gaura species up here until last summer. I planted one pot and the bees n butterflies loved it ! Our weird cool wet winter KILLed mine so I must venture forth to our nurseries again this Spring. Hope I can find them !!


If you are going to a nursery - ask for ones suitable for your local - a good nursery will know


Here is my list in central Alabama:
Globe Thistle. (Yep, I plan to control it be snipping the spent flower heads.
Mint (will either plant in a pot argues the open bottom embedded pot method in my garden)
white clover ( this was sown in my small backyard and I am hoping over the next year or two to have that space totally propagated with clover which will greatly reduce I need to mow).
there will also be a vegetable garden with various plantings.
I think I need to consider the autumn sedum.
we move to a new area so I am uncertain what for each options my new Colony will have so I am trying to give them some really good options close to home. they have a good water source.

We have a small lot and I am wondering are there any other suggestions of super plants for bees for Zone 7. I can plant a few small shrubs but everything that plant has to be either in a raised bed for drainage as we live on a lake or something that is very Moisture tolerant. prefer suggestions for water tolerance but will consider eithet.


Are you allowed to plant Himalayan Balsam?


I don’t see anything on the web that says it’s banned here, but it sounds like something I personally would have a hard time controlling. However I have a location perfect for them…thanks for the suggestion. I am going to research them further…wondering, since bees tend to forage them above other plants that the nectar would strongly affect the honey taste…is that accurate?


Yah … Thankz for the note ! I thought this would make it okay here.

it’s possible that we were just a bit too wet n mild here for this plant or the Gaura did get it roots down enough.
I owned n operated a small gardening n greenhouse business n grew up around what works where. It’s just like bee … We can do everything right n still loss a few n not absolutely WHY ! Guess this is life ! Thankz for the note my friend. Maybe I will have better luck next round. Gerald


Balsam honey is very sweet and a golden colour. I like it. People in the UK really get their knickers in a twist about it. It is a hated invasive plant and in some parts people take it upon themselves to pull it wherever they see it. We call them the “Balsam Police”… Luckily where I live there is a much more laissez faire attitude and much is left where it seems to do little harm.
It is a very useful late forage crop for both bees and beekeepers, blooming till the first frosts. Much nicer than Ivy which though valuable to the bees tastes like mouthwash! Tongue in cheek… it is British Manuka :wink:
I would prefer it anyday to OSR (Canola) honey which to me tastes like cabbage…yuk!