Petunias have been bred in a wide variety of stunning colors, and those colors, along with their tubular shape, can make them attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. However, hybrid petunias contain very little nectar and pollen–and pollinators who visit them usually leave wanting much more!
Instead, consider choosing plants that offer both beauty and rich supplies of food for pollinators. There are many to choose from. Using the popular “thriller–filler-spiller” formula, you might choose salvia (Salvia farinacea), pentas (Pentas spp) or snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) for your tall “thriller". Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), bidens (Bidens laevis) or ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum) serve as excellent “fillers”. And lantana (Lantana camara), moss rose (Portulaca grandiflora) or even bee-loved herbs such as oregano or thyme provide dramatic “spiller” power, as well as plenty of pollen and nectar.
But if you really love those baskets of petunias, go ahead and indulge! Just be sure to plant plenty of nectar-rich blooms nearby. That way, you can enjoy both a lovely display and a host of satisfied pollinator customers. Happy Mother’s Day from the SBG!
Photo: Rebecca Niver, Unsplash