10 aromatic flower plants that fail to attract bees

December 1, 2011

Aromatic flower

We know that bees are attracted to flowers, but surprisingly not all of these pretty creations see bees flocking in droves. While most people plant flowers that attract bees in order to pollinate plants, there are some who wouldn’t mind not having to do with these little critters. So, if you’re a garden lover who doesn’t particularly like the idea of bees persistently trying to get to your blossoms, check out these 10 flowers that fail to attract nature’s honeymakers.

1. Foxglove


Highly toxic to animals and humans, the foxglove or digitalis is a tubular-looking flower that doesn’t attract too many bees. This is mainly because of tiny hairs growing inside the flower that deter insects from climbing or flying in. The flower itself hangs downward, making it difficult for pollinators to enter. However, this isn’t to say that insects like the bumblebee cannot get through, it only means that compared to other flowers, the foxglove doesn’t attract many insects.

2. Red strawflower


Bees are drawn to certain colors and red isn’t one of them. One of the strawflower’s shade of colors is red and repels bees. Unlike humans, these insects see in ultraviolet and other spectrums so red essentially looks black or UV purple and isn’t attractive. However, a bee may be drawn to this perennial flower if it isn’t sitting against a green background. The strawflower is also dense even though it has an open center which discourages bees.

3. Feverfew


Some flowering herbs like the feverfew are a good choice for flower lovers who want to keep a bee-free garden. Unlike other herbs, the feverfew is a very showy flower and most would assume they would be attractive to bees. However, this member of the daisy family emits a smell and taste that is bitter to bees. It also gives out a natural insecticide known as pyrethrin which repels them.

4. Carnations


Carnations have always been a favorite among people but bees think little of them. Despite their pretty, colorful appearance, these flowers aren’t exactly welcoming. Their bunched and dense petals make it difficult for bees to get to the nectar. Red carnations, in particular, fail to attract bees as they would appear red or UV purple.

5. Marigolds


Like carnations, marigolds have a very dense petal structure that prevents insects from collecting nectar. Single varieties are more likely to attract bees as they contain more nectar. While most bees have long tongues and are attracted to yellow flowers, they are less likely to spend their time trying to extract nectar from flowers with dense and double petals. Not to mention, marigolds have very little fragrance which is also what bees look for in a flower.

6. Datura


Like the foxglove, datura is toxic to animals and humans. It is similar in appearance to the foxglove too in that it has a long trumpet shape. It also tends to grow downwards, making it inconvenient for bees to enter. Their short tongues aren’t able to properly reach to the nectar and pollen. Datura open their blossoms during the night which makes insects like moths more natural pollinators.

7. Chrysanthemums


Chrysanthemums attract bees but they don’t usually pollinate them due to a certain predators that lurks inside – the spider. These flowers attract spiders that hide beneath the petals and feed on unsuspecting bees that fly to them. The honeymakers have learnt to stay away from them and while a few may still attempt to collect nectar, the numbers are very few.

8. Red roses


Roses do attract bees but the red ones repel them. Aside from the color, double petal roses also keep the honeymakers away as it is difficult for them to get to the pollen buds. If you love roses and would like to have them in different colors, plant those that aren’t red in a section of your garden away from the house and choose those with double petals.

9. Penstemon/Beardtongue


Found in western North America, the beardtongue, also known as penstemon, isn’t known for its bee attractive ways. The red variety, in particular, repels bees due to its color. Beardtongue has a bell-shaped outer and a narrow long corolla. This shape prevents bees from entering the flower easily and collecting the nectar. Like the foxglove and datura, the beardtongue’s tube shape keeps these honeymakers away.

10. Peonies


These pretty flowers are a favorite among flower lovers but bees think little of them. Peonies have a very dense petal structure which isn’t conducive to pollen and nectar collection. The center is more or less closed which prevent bees from getting to the pollen-filled buds.

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