There are times when you don’t want bees to be attracted to your plants, especially if you or any members of your family are allergic to bees. This doesn’t mean that you have to avoid having beautiful flowering plants, though, because some of them actually repel bees. So, what are some ornamental plants to plant in your garden if you don’t want to hear the buzzing of bees?
Ornamental plants that don’t attract bees include those that bloom at night, such as evening primrose, and plants with red flowers because bees can’t see this color. Plants that don’t have tubular flowers in which bees have to crawl to get pollen can also be unappealing to bees.
In this article, I’ll explore flowering plants with the above and other characteristics so that your garden will be beautiful when it blooms but not attract many bees.
1. Red Geraniums
Although geraniums flower beautifully, their blooms don’t contain a lot of pollen, which means they don’t attract bees. They also have a scent that bees don’t like, so they’re perfect for planting in your garden.
Just make sure you plant red geraniums, as bees can’t see the color red. This is because their eyes have the ability to see the light in wavelengths from around 300 to 650 nanometers (nm), while humans can see light in wavelengths from 390 to 750 nm, as North Carolina State University reports.
You can grow geraniums from cuttings, which can be different from sowing their seeds. Read my blog post covering the most important tips about growing these beauties: How to Grow Geraniums from Cuttings
Although marigolds can be appealing to bees, who can see in the ultraviolet spectrum and will therefore be attracted to the UV light these pretty flowers emit, some types of marigolds have tight petals, and these are the varieties to plant in a bee-free garden.
When the flowers on a plant are constructed in a tighter fashion, this makes it harder for bees to enter the flower and retrieve the nectar or pollen they’re seeking. An example of a marigold variety with tight petals is the ‘Taishan,’ a dwarf marigold that has large flowers with tight petals in beautiful colors such as yellow-orange.
Another trait of marigolds that makes them less appealing to bees is that they don’t smell pleasant to them.
3. Evening Primrose
This flowering plant has bowl-shaped yellow flowers that will look cheerful in your garden, but since its flowers open during the late afternoon and evening while remaining closed during the day, it’s more appealing to pollinators that are active at night, like bats.
Although bees can fly during the day, they can’t at night. They can only find and pass along pollen during daylight hours and are only able to crawl around at night, as USA Today reports. This is why flowers that open later during the day can remain protected against bees.
When looking after your plant, don’t be fooled by how your Evening Primrose blooms at night because this flowering plant needs lots of sun in order to grow and thrive–make sure it gets between six and eight hours of sunlight every day.
Since amaryllis is a type of plant that has a trumpet-shaped flower, it’s difficult for bees to enter the flowers to reach the nectar. Whenever bees have to put in more effort to reach pollen and nectar, they will be put off by the extra work that’s required.
This is why bees are likely to avoid amaryllis and similar flowers in favor of others that have more readily-available nectar.
When planting beautiful amaryllis in the garden, make sure you choose one with bold red flowers, as this will make your plant look striking when it blooms while ensuring it remains invisible to bees.
This pretty perennial plant has a spicy scent that isn’t attractive to bees. While it blooms in a single flower, it’s multi-petaled and gives the impression of crinkled tissue paper.
Although these flowers can be pollinated by bees, they’re more likely to be pollinated by butterflies. So, these flowers are also an excellent way to draw more butterflies to your garden.
To make it even less appealing to bees, choose red carnations, which will also add a touch of drama to your garden.
Although you might think you should avoid planting chrysanthemums in your garden because they have brightly colored flowers, which are likely to attract many insects, they are not a favorite of bees. This is because they don’t produce enough pollen for bees to be drawn to them.
So, if you’re allergic to bees or just don’t want to attract these pollinators to your garden, you’ll be able to plant them in your garden and enjoy their gorgeous colors without a problem.
A moonflower has various traits that make bees leave it alone. It blooms at night when bees aren’t around. Its beautiful white petals unfurl during the evening, and its flowers are trumpet-shaped, which also makes it difficult for bees to access them to collect nectar.
When the night is over, the flowers retreat back into hiding, curling up and remaining closed until the evening. During the day, they can be one or two inches (2.54–5.08cm) in size, but they increase to about six or seven inches (15.24–17.78cm) when their flowers open, which is a beautiful sight to see.
While it won’t attract bees, its luminous white color and the heady scent will attract moths and bats.
8. Knock-Out Roses
Although roses generally attract bees, honeybees are not attracted to all rose varieties. An example of a rose that repels bees is Knock-Out roses. These roses are hybridized and don’t have a lot of nectar.
Knock-Out roses also lack the strong fragrance that other roses produce, which further makes them ideal if you’re trying to grow a bee-free garden.
Finally, the way the rose is structured means that access to the inner flower is restricted, so bees will battle to enter the bloom to reach the pollen.
9. Witch Hazel
A witch hazel plant blooms in beautiful yellow or orange flowers during the fall and winter, so it’s a smart choice if you crave more color in your garden during the colder months. It’s a plant that adds a dash of uniqueness to your property thanks to its stringy, wispy flowers. It also doesn’t attract bees.
This is because bees aren’t interested in plants that bloom too early or late in the season, as they tend to be most active late in the spring when flowers start to appear as a result of their warm weather.
Witch hazel blooms later than many other flowering plants; its flowers appear from October to early December.
10. Hydrangea “Annabelle”
This is a hydrangea variety that you shouldn’t avoid planting in your garden because you’re afraid that it will attract bees. Hydrangea “Annabelle,” which blooms in beautiful white flowers, only attracts a small number of pollinators because it’s a cultivar, which means it lacks the nectar, scent, and pollen that appeals to bees. This is because it’s been produced in cultivation via a selective breeding process.
“Annabelle” is known as a mophead hydrangea, which refers to the plant’s flower structure. Its sterile outer flowers produce a dome-shaped panicle that’s beautiful and showy but doesn’t contain nectar or pollen.
If you love growing your own healthy produce that you can add to your diet and you want a statement plant for the garden, cucumbers are a good blend of both. The cucumber plant repels bees, especially native bees.
Cucumbers are simply not attractive to native bees, but honeybees do pollinate them, as Michigan State University reports. Cucumbers have long been known to repel bees, which is why DIY recipes containing cucumber peels are often said to be effective in keeping bees away from your home.
Forsythia is a flowering plant that doesn’t attract bees because it blooms too early in the season, long before bees become active. It blooms late in the winter or early in spring, and it’s also easy to maintain because it adapts to various soil types, which is a bonus if you’re looking for a low-maintenance plant.
Although it has fragrant flowers, forsythia doesn’t release a smell that is attractive to bees. One of the things that makes forsythia so appealing is that its flowers appear before the leaves on the bush, so you get an unobstructed view of its stunning yellow flowers.
Foxglove is a flowering plant characterized by ovate to oblong leaves and tall clusters of bell-shaped flowers. These flowers look like upside-down bells, which makes it difficult for bees to reach the nectar inside them.
Foxglove is more appealing to hummingbirds than bees. These birds have long beaks that can access the nectar easier.
14. Maiden Grass
Decorative grasses make a statement in your garden, creating an eye-catching feature that doesn’t require flowers to draw attention. Maiden grass is tall with its flower heads that are bronze in color and then become white plumes.
Although it attracts birds, maiden grass doesn’t attract bees, so you can use it throughout your garden. It’s ideal for planting in areas that need a bit of beauty, such as along a driveway or border.
This flowering plant, which performs well in containers, smells like mint, which is why wasps and bees don’t like to swarm around it. Pennyroyal is also part of the mint family, which is why it’s commonly used as a natural bug repellent.
It also has small flowers, which aren’t that appealing to bees, although they will be appealing to you as they bloom in pretty purple color.
Juniper shrubs are evergreen and remain ornamental throughout the year. They have striking features, such as sharp, scale-like leaves, so they not only bring greenery to your garden but also texture. You can find juniper bushes in various foliage colors, such as green, gold, or blue.
Juniper doesn’t attract bees because it’s a wind-pollinated plant. These types of plants don’t contain nectar because their pollen is transferred from one plant to another. Since the pollen is carried by the breeze, it doesn’t require bees to pollinate it.
Since they don’t have to be attractive to bees, these shrubs don’t have a bee-friendly scent.
Ornamental plants don’t have to be flowering plants, and wormwood is an excellent example of this. It has beautiful silver leaves that add unusual color to your garden.
Wormwood repels bees naturally because it contains absinthe. This is a substance that’s poisonous to insects, and because it’s so pungent, bees and wasps will stay away from it. In fact, it’s got such a strong, unpleasant odor that bees can’t stand it, so they won’t even get close to it.
There is a risk to bear in mind when planting wormwood in your garden. It can cause other plants to struggle to survive. This is because they will draw the plant’s natural chemical properties in the soil.
18. Citronella Grass
You’ve probably heard that citronella effectively repels insects such as mosquitos. However, planting citronella in the garden will also repel bees and wasps.
Not to be confused with citronella plants that are a type of geranium but don’t repel bees with their scent, citronella grass is more effective at keeping insects and bees away from your garden.
Citronella grass is a source of the essential oil citronella that’s commonly recommended for use against insects. To release its smell, such as if you want to get some of its insect-repellent scents on you when sitting in the garden to repel bees, all you have to do is crush some of its leaves.
It also looks beautiful as decorative grass in the garden.
Petunias come in a variety of colors, but you should plant red ones as they will repel bees. Generally, petunias keep bees away because they don’t have petals or flowers that are large enough to allow bees to land on them.
Another feature that petunias have to repel bees is a lack of pollen or nectar. Although you might see bees flying around your petunias, they don’t stay for a long time because these plants don’t offer them a reason to stay.
However, if you want to attract butterflies to your garden, you should plant petunias in your garden. This is because butterflies like flowers that grow in full-sun conditions. In addition to this, petunias will also attract hummingbirds, which are drawn to their trumpet-shaped flowers.
Bees have a complicated relationship with dandelions. These are wind-pollinated plants, so they’re not highly appealing to bees. Although bees have been known to be attracted to pollen in dandelion weeds, they don’t contain the high-quality pollen that bees require.
Honey bees specifically need a balanced blend of amino acids. Pollen is the only source of amino acids for them, and bees need a variety of pollen types in order to get enough of these nutrients. They can’t get everything they need from dandelions.
In fact, dandelion pollen can hinder the development of larvae in mason bees, as the American Bee Journal reports.
Flowers on the Feverfew plant look like chamomile and daisy flowers, and they provide beautiful white and gold blooms in your garden.
Gardeners plant these flowers in their gardens when they want to repel a variety of insects. Although it has pretty flowers, Feverfew repels bees because of its strong and bitter scent.
The plant also has small flowers that are formed in a dense clusters, which further makes the flowers unappealing to bees.
22. Double Zinnia
It might be surprising to learn that bold zinnias don’t attract many bees. The flowers of double zinnias are especially resistant to bees because they have rows of petals, and you can’t see their centers. This makes it difficult for bees to find the nectar in the flowers.
You can find double zinnias in a variety of colors, so they’ll bring lots of personality to your garden.
In case you don’t know, double flowers are blooms that have multiple petal layers, which give the flowers lots of texture and make the flowers a stunning statement in the garden.
There are some flowers that have been used in selective breeding, and this has caused them to lack the characteristics that attract bees. Pansies are an example. As a result of selective breeding, pansies have had their nectar tube lengthened, so honeybees battle to reach their pollen.
Some pansies have a sweet scent, however, so you might want to avoid these in areas of the garden where you want to repel bees. There are some pansy varieties that don’t have any scent at all. Note that blue and yellow pansies have the strongest scent, which is intensified at dusk and dawn.
Begonias are another example of a flowering plant that doesn’t contain a lot of nectar, so they’re not attractive to bees. While these flowers are colorful, so they’ll add beauty to your garden and hanging baskets, their flowers appear in clusters, which means bees won’t be able to draw their small quantities of nectar.
Since hummingbirds have long beaks, they can better access the small amounts of nectar in the begonia flowers than bees.