I’m always being asked what my best plants for pollinators are? Well …. Number One has to be Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare). It ticks all the boxes.
It’s a native wildflower in the UK. It’s hardy so it won’t be killed by cold weather. It has fantastic azure blue flowers. It’s easy to grow from seed. It self-seeds around the garden. You can collect the seed and share it with friends and family. I’ve never seen a disease or problem with it. It’s simply my favourite bee and pollinator plant.
It’s flowers are open and accessible and very, very, very rich in nectar as long as there is not a drought. In fact it replenishes its nectaries every 20 minutes or so, which makes it an all-day bee bar.
Echium vulgare is a biennial, which means it flowers in its second year. When it first germinates the little rosettes of leaves don’t look anything special, don’t be fooled. In year two it will push up flower spikes of 1-2 feet tall covered in fabulous blue flowers.
It grows in poor soil when it will be more compact, but plant it in rich, well fertilised soil and it grows like it is on steroids and makes huge flower spikes 2-3 feet tall. I grow it in pots and around the edge of my chicken run, where it flowers its socks off.