Create a Pollinator Pot

Landscaping with Florida’s native wildflowers and plants provides refuge for birds, bees and butterflies while creating “habitat highways” through urban settings.

The insects that pollinate our food crops and natural areas are in steep decline. Our suburban landscapes are more important than ever in supporting them. Even small changes in your landscape and neighborhood can help build native, natural corridors that provide food, nesting and other resources for insect pollinators.

No place for a garden? No problem! You can create a small oasis for pollinator insects planting pots with Florida’s native wildflowers.

Easy and fun!

Starting your own pollinator pot is an easy and fun way to provide a stopover for local pollinators while helping to “connect the dots” to nearby wildflowers and natural areas.

Your pots can be seasonal or may offer year-round benefits through plants that bloom at different times.

When you use Florida’s native wildflowers, your pollinator pot will attract a variety of insects, including butterflies, native and honey bees, flies and beetles. When they feed on a flower’s nectar, they inadvertently pick up pollen on their legs and body parts. As they visit new areas, this pollen will be distributed to other plants of the same species to complete the pollination process, resulting in seeds and fruit.

wildflowers planted in pots
Examples of pollinator pots. Photos by Jen Tyson

Getting started

Container selection

Use a variety of pot sizes, from 1 gallon to 5 to 7 gallons. Drainage in container gardens is very important to order to avoid plant root rot, so look for pots with a large hole in the bottom or five to seven smaller holes. Look for pots that have saucers or purchase them separately to place under pots to catch runoff and extend soil moisture. If you plan to grow moisture-loving species, choose pots with limited drainage.

Site selection

Plan to group your pollinator pots to create a visual “hotspot” that is easily seen by potential insect visitors. Sunny pollinator gardens need four to six hours of direct or indirect light daily. Shady pollinator gardens also can attract pollinators, but plants will bloom best if they get two to three hours of filtered sunlight.

Soil

Use potting soil made with crushed pine bark and peat or media designed for vegetable grow boxes. A light mulching of pine straw or leaves can help the soil retain moisture.

Fill the pot with soil then water to saturate it before planting.

Plant selection

A complete pollinator garden will provide blooming wildflowers in spring, summer and fall, so plan to mix plants in large pots or use a single species per separate pot for each season. If mixing plants in large pots, it is important to choose plants with similar moisture needs.

Select three to five species of varying heights for large pots. You also can add low-growing groundcovers, grasses or a vine.

Consult the lists and plant profiles below for wildflowers that grow well in pots throughout Florida. Your local native plant nursery can suggest others.

Maintenance

Potted plants dry out faster than in-ground plantingsso give pots a good watering once or twice a week as needed. Larger pots may need less-frequent watering.

As your potted garden matures, it will go through natural cycles. After flowers mature and seed sets, perennials can be cut to their base for regrowth or replaced with fresh plants. Promote repeated flowering by deadheading flowers. Trim sparse plants to increase new leaf growth.

Wildflowers in nature and in-ground gardens do not require fertilizer, but a low concentration of a balanced liquid or solid fertilizer can be applied if your pollinator pot plants appear undernourished.

Get inspired with these videos!

Observe pollinators

Watching the evolution of your pollinator pot and the variety of insects that it attracts can be both relaxing and fun! Learn to identify visitors to your pollinator garden with these helpful resources:

Great wildflowers for containers

Hummingbird clearwing (Hemaris thysbe) on Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) has showy pink flowers that typically bloom in summer and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed

Swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) blooms in late spring through early fall and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host plant for Monarch, Queen and Soldier butterflies.
Read more… Swamp milkweed

Lemon bacopa

Lemon bacopa (Bacopa caroliniana) is a low-growing, herbaceous wildflower that typically blooms late spring through fall, but can bloom year-round. Its nectar attracts a variety of small pollinators.
Read more… Lemon bacopa

Herb-of-grace

Herb-of-grace (Bacopa monnieri) is a creeping, mat-forming perennial that occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and swales, salt marshes, freshwater marshes and swamps, and along river, stream and ditch edges.
Read more… Herb-of-grace
False rosemary

False rosemary

False rosemary (Conradina canescens) occurs naturally in sand pine scrub and sandhills. Many pollinator species are attracted to false rosemary, but bees are the most prominent visitor.
Read more… False rosemary
Lanceleaf tickseed flower

Lanceleaf tickseed

Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata) has conspicuously sunny flowers that typically bloom in spring. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and its seeds are eaten by birds and small wildlife.
Read more… Lanceleaf tickseed
Scorpionstail, Heliotropium angiospernum

Scorpionstail

Scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum) is a shrub-like plant with unique white flowers that bloom year-round. Its nectar attracts a variety of butterflies including the Miami blue and Schaus’ swallowtail.
Read more… Scorpionstail
Scarlet hibiscus bloom

Scarlet hibiscus

Scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus) has large, crimson blooms that attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators. They remain open for only one day, but the plant produces many flowers throughout the…
Read more… Scarlet hibiscus
Blue skyflower

Blue skyflower

The beauty of the brilliant Blue skyflower (Hydrolea corymbose) cannot be clouded! This herbaceous perennial wildflower goes largely unnoticed — that is, until its bright blue blooms appear.
Read more… Blue skyflower

Alligatorlily

Alligatorlily (Hymenocallis palmeri) is a perennial wildflower endemic to cypress swamps, marshes, wet prairies, savannas and moist open flatwoods in Florida’s central and southern peninsula.
Read more… Alligatorlily
Prairie iris, Iris hexagona

Prairie iris

Prairie iris (Iris hexagona) is a rhizomatous perennial wildflower with showy purple flowers. They bloom in spring in swamps, wet prairies and marshes, and along river and ditch edges.
Read more… Prairie iris
Palamedes swallowtail on Dense gayfeather, Liatris spicata

Dense gayfeather

Dense gayfeather (Liatris spicata) has striking spikes of purple flowers that bloom late summer through fall and are excellent attractors of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.
Read more… Dense gayfeather
Coral honeysuckle flowers

Coral honeysuckle

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) flowers are attractive to many butterflies, and hummingbirds find them irresistible. Birds such as Northern cardinals enjoy the bright red berries.
Read more… Coral honeysuckle
Purple passionflower bloom

Passionflower

Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has extraordinarily intricate purple-and-white-fringed flowers. The plant is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the Gulf fritillary and Zebra longwing.
Read more… Passionflower
Frogfruit flowers

Frogfruit

Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is both a versatile and vital wildflower. This evergreen perennial is low-growing and creeping, often forming dense mats of green foliage.
Read more… Frogfruit
Wild petunia

Wild petunia

Wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) typically blooms late spring through late summer/early fall, attracting a variety of pollinators. It is the host plant for the White peacock and Common buckeye butterflies.
Read more… Wild petunia
Tropical sage flowers

Tropical sage

Tropical sage (Salvia coccinea) is a versatile perennial wildflower that no pollinator can resist, but it is particularly attractive to bees, large butterflies and hummingbirds.
Read more… Tropical sage

Lyreleaf sage

Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) is an attractive perennial with leafless spikes of tubular, lavender to bluish flowers. Bees are its predominant pollinator, but it also attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Read more… Lyreleaf sage
Seaside goldenrod flower stalk with bees

Seaside goldenrod

The conspicuous golden blooms of Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) are found on dunes, in tidal marshes, bogs and sandy flatwoods, along roadsides and in disturbed areas in Florida’s coastal counties…
Read more… Seaside goldenrod

Blue porterweed

Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) is an excellent addition to a butterfly garden: It is a host plant for the Tropical buckeye and a nectar source for many other butterfly species.
Read more… Blue porterweed
Spiderwort flower

Spiderwort

Spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.) flowers attract many pollinators, especially bees. Like all species in the dayflower family, the flowers are ephemeral, meaning they stay open only one day.
Read more… Spiderwort