Plants for Bees: 12 month log of plants

Plants for Bees: 12 month log of plants

I’ve been fishing up to a dozen bees out of our pool the last few days (about 2/3rd survive if I make my rounds frequently) so I knew something was blooming in the vicinity. Yep, looking nearby, the loquats were in full bloom. I had an earlier post with a 6 month list of plants used by the bees on our half acre of property. Here’s a more complete list, up through the end of November (except September – sorry, we travelled a lot that month), plus some photos.

Again, the biggest takeaway for homeowners (and commercial growers) is:


Both natives and non-natives are important. Because native plants in your area carry the advantage that bees have evolved with them, we tend to prefer natives. But the non-natives are great for filling in gaps where the natives have less blooms, especially in the summer. For example, crape myrtle is making the bees happy right now in hot August.

Below is my 12 month log of the wide variety of plants/trees I’ve witnessed bees getting nectar here on our property in Southern CA, along with some photos and a few takeaways. (Some, such as rosemary and lavender can grow nearly everywhere.)

January – rosemary, loquat, manzanita, currant

February – rosemary, ceanothus & magnolia (blooming earlier than normal), viburnum tinus (laurestine), black sage, bush mallow, currant

Bee on our Dark Star Ceanothus

Rosemary constantly blooms for the bees

March – ceanothus, salvias (black, Cleveland), bush mallow, lavender, rosemary, fremontia, apricot trees

April – wisteria, prunus (ornamental cherry) nevin’s barberi, salvias (Cleveland sage, black), fremontia, lavender, pride of madeira, sugarbush, nevin’s barberi, citrus (orange), Carolina Cherry (prunus caroliniana or wild mock orange),

May – pride of madeira, salvias (Cleveland sage, black sage), orange, paloverde (Desert Museum), pyrochantha, privet (ligustrum ovalifolium), lavender, wisteria, bush mallow, matilija poppy

June – St. Catherine’s lace buckwheat, lavender, sugar bush, lemonade berry, toyon

July – St. Catherine’s Lace buckwheat, lavender, balhemia, California buckwheat, toyon, crape myrtle, white sage, rosemary

August– Bauhinia (orchid tree), lavender, rosemary, crape myrtle, California buckwheat

Bauhinia is this plant (from India)- has long pods, beautiful white flowers and thorns! And is rather invasive.

September –  ? (didn’t record… next year) I’m sure rosemary and bauhinia were blooming

October – Chinese elm, eucalyptus, rosemary, Quail bush

November– she-oak, loquat, strawberry bush, rosemary, Quail Bush, Mexican Sage

Mexican Sage blooms in the fall as well as spring

November Loquat blooms

November Strawberry tree blooms

December  (last Dec)- rosemary, loquat


  • Longest Longevity: Local beekeeper here in Southern California, Brian Romberg, recommends  lavender and rosemary because of their longevity. Note that rosemary was feeding the bees on our property all but three months. Romberg says, “If you have lavender or rosemary you’ll have bees around because those bloom for long periods of time.” We’ve noticed you can also plant different varieties of ceanothus and sages (salvias) that have different blooming times. For example, black sage blooms started blooming in February and now (May) the Cleveland sage is at its peak.
  • Avoid pesticide use, especially on flowering plants. Regardless of what a pest person says or the hardware store employee – pesticides kill bees (and other helpful insects along with the ones you’re trying to eradicate)
  • Plant lists: A great internet resource to check on good plants for your area is the Xerces Society website, and their plant lists.
About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.


  1. Linda! I know this post is about bees (and thank you), but what I got out of it is the name of the tree with the bright red berries that I’ve noticed for the first time this fall – the strawberry tree. I’ve gathered a few of the colorful berries to throw out onto my woodsy mulch in the backyard just to enjoy the spots of color a while. I appreciate your blog and the consciousness it’s creating for me re bees, trees and native plants.

    • They’re also edible and have high vitamin C & other antioxidants – the arbutus unedo (the one pictured) has the bigger fruits, there’s another variety that has the more reddish (manzanita type) bark but much smaller fruits…

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