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A lot of plants can pollinate themselves.

Fruits: Tomatoes, Strawberries

Vegetables: Peppers, Eggplant, Snap Beans, Lima Beans, Lettuce, Endive, Peas, Cabbage, Broccoli, Beets, Kohlrabi

Other: Chicory, Oats, Wheat, Barley, Dill, Lentils

Some other plants cannot.

What can I plant that will attract butterflies and other pollinators? I am in Minnesota.

Also See: What steps can I use to encourage pollination?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Pollinators are no different than people, they need the same things: food, water, shelter.

  • Food: Some butterflies like a bit of mud to puddle up minerals
  • Shelter: many bees are under-served in the shelter area. Nesting tubes can be as simple as groups of bamboo 4-8" long, smooth with a 5/16" diameter hole. Group them together in a bundle off the ground and with some mesh around to prevent birds from poking their beaks in for a snack.
  • Water that is fresh and moving is a magnet for all kinds of animals, pollinators included.

For the food part try to add flowers that have many small compound flowers like

  • Sedum Spectabile
  • Milkweed
  • Aster Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Caltrop Kallstroemia
  • Creosote bush Larrea
  • Currants Ribes
  • Elder Sambucus
  • Goldenrod Solidago
  • Huckleberry Vaccinium
  • Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
  • Lupine Lupinus
  • Oregon grape Berberis (probably not hardy in Minnesota)
  • Penstemon Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower Echinacea
  • Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus
  • Rhododendron Rhododendron
  • Sage Salvia
  • Scorpion-weed Phacelia
  • Snowberry Symphoricarpos
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Sunflower Helianthus (guaranteed to attract all kinds of pollinators)

Skip grasses and large flowering plants like lilies or hardy hibiscus.

And most importantly: do not use pesticides. Frequent use kills more than just the pests if there is residual activity

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Use a variety of flowers. Not every insect will pollinate every plant. –  uncle brad Feb 7 '12 at 15:34

@kevinsky's answer is excellent. I would also mention that different plants bloom (and attract pollinators) at different times. If you want to attract pollinators for help with, say, your June strawberry crop, then sunflowers (which bloom late) are a poor choice -- Lupines might be better.

Because of the differing bloom times and possibly preferences of different pollinators, it would be a good idea to plant a wide variety of species. Then you can start attracting pollinators early in the season and keep them around for longer.

In addition to kevinsky's list, also consider Monarda (bee balm) as a candidate. You can get very hardy varieties that will survive a Minnesota winter. Ours grow about 4' tall and when in bloom attract tons of bees and butterflies.

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