Plants Bees Like in Houston
by Donald Burger, Attorney at Law

Below is an alphabetical list of plants that I have personally seen bees liking in Houston. To make the list the plant must be one that I have actually seen bees visiting in numbers. One visit is not enough. Someone telling me bees like a plant is not enough. An eyewitness view is required.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
This is a great herb. This annual is easy to grow in Houston. Buy it in the spring after all danger of frost has passed. Buy lots of plants. Let half of them go to flower for the bees and reserve the other half for your spaghetti. Nothing transforms store bought spaghetti sauce like fresh basil. Grow basil and you can be a great cook as well as a great beekeeper.

Blackberry, Brazos (Rosaceae 'Brazos’)
Blackberries are easy to grow in Houston. They bloom in the spring and provide great flowers for the bees. Plus, you will get a delicious fruit for munching or making into cobbler. Remember that blackberries bloom on this year's canes. So, to keep them from getting that bramble look, prune off the old canes after they have fruited.

Black & Blue Sage (Salvia garanitica)

Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens)
This is an easy plant for Houston. It will survive our winters, and it produces pretty oragnish blooms that bees enjoy. The plant gets about 12 to 18 inches in height. I recommend planting at least three (five is better) so as to give the bees something worth their while.

Catmint (Nepeta faassenii)

Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia splendens)
This plant blooms very early in the year, assuming you grow it in a pot and take it inside the garage on freezing nights. As an early bloomer, the bees will appreciate the blooms when nothing much else is around. As spring continues, they will go to other plants. Still, the plant is worth growing just for the fact that it can provide nectar for the bees after a long winter. Just remember to bring it inside on cold winter nights. It is easy to grow in a clay pot, 12 inches in diameter or above.

Duranta (Duranta repens)
This is a great plant for Houston. It has a brilliant blue bloom. The flant will get to about five feet by five feet. It will be covered in blooms all summer and fall. It will freeze in winter, but comes back from the roots. On this list, this is my favorite bee plant. Honey bees love it. Bumblebees love it. Butterflies love it. I love it. If you have the room, get one of these bushes.

Goldenrod (Solidago ssp)

Grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi ‘Rio Red’)

Guara (Gaura lindheimeri)

Hummingbird Bush (Hamelia patens)

Kumquat (Fortunella margarita x japonica)

Lace Cactus (Echinocereus caespitosus)

Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Meyer’)

Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)

Pentas(Pentas laceolata)
This is another landscape plant that bees love. Pentas are disease free and will survive our winters. The plants are from twelve to eighteen inch high, and covered in star-shaped blooms. Bees love these plants, and you will too.

Poppy (Argemone albiflora)

Portulaca (Portulaca oleracea)

Purple Heart (Setcreasea pallida)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I love to sprinkle steaks with rosemary leaves when I grill. I plant rosemary at the "corners" of paths so one has the chance to brush against them as one walks in the garden. The scent is wonderful. And bees also love rosemary. The plants are covered with light blue blooms all summer long. Both the upright and the prostrate versions work well. Give this herb a try. It over-winters well, and gets no diseases.

Roses (Rosa ssp.)
Roses come in all kinds of varieties. Mostly, bees do not visit roses because the blooms are multi-petaled, and, therefore, hard for the bees to get in to. However, bees with visit the so-called single blooms and semi-doubles. The American Rose Society defines a single bloom as a rose bloom with four toeight petals and a semi double as a blooms with nine to sixteen petals. I love roses, and grow lots of them. However, most roses are not visited by bees.

Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Satsuma (Citrus unshiu)

Tallow (Sapium sebiferum)

Texas Sabal Palm (Sabal texana)

Torenia (Torenia fournieri ‘Catalina Midnight Blue’)

Water Lily (Nymphaeceae ssp)

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