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Pollinator Garden at Pacific Science Center

The next time you visit Pacific Science Center, take some time to stroll through the Pollinator Garden. Different flowers bloom each month, with unique colors, shapes, and scents to attract and support native pollinators throughout the year. Who knows which pollinators you may see visiting the garden, enjoying the same flowers that you are?

Pacific Science Center staff chose to grow Washington native plants instead of cultivated flowers. Native plants sometimes have unique co-evolutionary relationships with local species of butterfly, bee, or other pollinators.

Once established, most native plants need less water, fertilizer, and pesticide than non-native plants, making them more environmentally friendly to grow. We hope the inspiration from these native plants and pollinators will encourage interest in stewardship of our native ecosystems.

Grow Your Own Pollinator Garden

Check out these suggestions of different native plants to grown your own pollinator garden. It’s important to choose a variety of plants with varied blooms so that there is always something for pollinators to feed on.

Share Your Garden

Take photos of your pollinator garden and share them with us using #pacsci. We love seeing your creations! Your observations of our Pollinator Garden also help us know which pollinator species are active.

Bulbs

Chocolate lily, Fritillaria affinis

Pollinator(s): Flies
Pollinated by flies, this mysterious-looking, deep maroon flower adds an interesting quality to any garden. It does, however, have a unique smell.

Columbia lily, Lilium columbianum

Pollinator(s): Bees
This plant is a little, spotted tiger lily with abundant pollen to feed many species of native bees.

Crown brodiaea, Brodiaea coronaria

Pollinator(s): Bees
This plant’s purple flower appears near the end of summer when many plants are done blooming. Timing a pollinator garden to have flowers during all seasons is a challenge, and this flower helps with that.

Douglas’ grasswidow, Olsynium douglasii

Pollinator(s): Bees
This herbaceous bulbiferous perennial has bright purple flowers that bloom March through June.

Giant white fawn lily, Erythronium oregonum

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This plant is a good choice for shaded gardens, and it’s showy, white flowers bloom in March through May and are an an early source of nectar and pollen.

Greater camas, Camassia leichtlinii

Pollinator(s): Bees
These dazzling blue flowers bloom in the spring, are very fragrant, and is good for early season bees of all kinds. It is similar to a bluebell or hyascinth, but not invasive.

Nodding onion, Allium cernuum

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This native plant has grass-like leaves with white or rose flowers that appear in July or August. The leaves, bulbs and bulblets are edible when cooked, and it has medicinal uses similar to garlic.

Tapertip onion, Allium acuminatum

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This plant produces a spherical bulb that smells like onions, as well as a cluster of pink or purple flowers that many kids of pollinators enjoy. The leaves, bulbs and bulblets are edible and can be used in similar ways as onions.

Grasses and Ferns

While they do not provide nectar or pollen, these ferns and grasses create habitat for nesting bees and provide safety and cover for smaller bees and butterflies. The grasses are also host plants to many species of Skipper Butterfly. Any of the plants below would help provide insect homes in a native pollinator garden.

 

Licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza

The rhizomes of this summer deciduous fern are licorice-flavored and can be used medicinally to treat colds and sore throats.

Beargrass, Xerophyllum tenax

This grass has flowers with six sepals and six stamens. It is important for fire ecology as rhizomes that survive fires will clears dead and dying plant matter from the surface of the ground.

Lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina

This is the large, feathery species of fern that we know and love.

Nodding semaphore grass, Pleuropogon refractus

This native grass grows in moist meadows, marshy areas, and shady forests.

Roemer’s fescue, Festuca, idahoensis ssp. Roemeri

This plant is drought-tolerant, is non-aggressive to other plants, grows full sun to partial shade, and prefers medium to fine textured soil.

Perennials and Annuals

Blanketflower, Gaillardia aristata

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This plant is a colorful, daisy-like flower with reddish centers changing to yellow tips that bloom from July through September. The entire plant is covered with fuzzy hairs.

Broadleaf stonecrop, Sedum spathulifolium

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
A drought tolerant flower, its leaves are also a host plant for San Bruno elfin, a federally listed endangered butterfly subspecies.

Chatterbox orchid, Epipactis gigantean

Pollinator(s): Flies
PacSci is able to easily grow this orchid in our gardens. Its name is a reference to the sound the flowers make when the wind blows over them.

Evergreen violet, Viola sempervirens

Pollinator(s): Butterflies
Along with their cute little flowers and ability to grow in shade, violets are also an important host plant for several species of butterfly. Anyone growing a pollinator garden should consider them.

Farewell to spring, Clarkia amoena

Pollinator(s): Hawkmoths
These plants bloom show-stopping hot pink flowers for about a month in May and June, and are self-seeding annual plants. This flower has a wow factor!

Fivefinger cinquefoil, Potentilla gracilis

Pollinator(s): Bees
This pretty, yellow flower is a good, non-invasive alternative to buttercups.

Henderson’s checker mallow, Sidalcea hendersonii

Pollinator(s): Butterflies, hummingbirds
Spikes of pink, hollyhock shaped flowers. This plant is both a hostplant for some butterflies and a pollen and nectar flower.

Henderson’s shooting star, Dodecatheon hendersonii

Pollinator(s): Bumblebees
These purple, road-leaved shooting star shaped flowers are fun to grow and look at.

Kinnikinnick, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Pollinator(s): Butterflies
This plant forms a low mat and spreads out widely. You may recognize it from seeing it at hiking trailheads.

Oregon grape, Mahonia nervosa

Pollinator(s): Bees
The Oregon grape makes bright yellow, fragrant flowers in the spring, a time when many pollinators need a food source. It is valuable for providing early season bloom, and is a very attractive plant.

Pacific bleeding heart, Dicentra Formosa

Pollinator(s): Butterfly host plant, hummingbirds, bees
This beautiful plant spreads, but not aggressively, and has beautiful blue/green lacy foliage, which some caterpillars use as a host plant. Its flowers are smaller, more delicate versions of the Bleeding heart.

Pacific starflower, Trientalis borealis ssp. Latifolia

Pollinator(s): Bees
This pretty plant has single star-shaped pink flower with five pointed petals, and grows in shady wooded areas.

Pacific trillium, Trillium ovatum

Pollinator(s): Bees
Trilliums have sensitive roots and can be hard to transplant, but once established they are a beloved sign of spring and an early flower for pollinators.

Prairie smoke, Geum triflorum, Bumblebees

Pollinator(s): Bumblebees
Beloved by bumblebees, this spring flower has a fluffy seed head that is just as ornamental as the flower is.

Rosy pussytoes, Antennaria rosea ssp. Rosea

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This is an everlasting flower, meaning that after it blooms it dries and keeps its shape. It is a good nectar source for bees and butterflies.

Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis

Pollinator(s): Bees
Somewhere between a shrub and a perenial, this plant has hot pink spring flowers and salmon-egg orange berries that are edible.

Scarlet paintbrush, Castilleja miniata

Pollinator(s): Bees, hummingbirds
This plant can be challenging to transplant and grow, and it does best when its roots can grow symbiotically with grasses.

Scouler’s fumewort, Corydalis scouleri

Pollinator(s): Bumblebees
This plant flowers are pink, usually with purple at the tips, and blooms from April through June.

Showy milkweed, Asclepias speciose

Pollinator(s): Butterflies, bees
This herbaceous perennial has rose and purple flowers, and is a great nectar source for butterflies. Plants flower from May – September.

Sickle-keel lupine, Lupinus albicaulis

Pollinator(s): Butterfly host plant, bumblebees
Lupines are a host plant for some butterflies, as well as a nectar source.

Tough-leaf iris, Iris tenax

Pollinator(s): Bumblebees
This hardy, drought-tolerant little iri is better for native pollinators than the big, tall bearded ones.

Western bunchberry, Cornus unalaschkensis

Pollinator(s): Bees, flies
This shrub-like plant with white flowers is a close relative of the dogwood tree, and grows in forested areas or wetlands.

Western columbine, Aquilegia Formosa

Pollinator(s): Hawkmoths, hummingbirds, bumblebees
Attractive two toned red and yellow columbines loved by hawkmoths and hummingbirds for its abundant nectar.

Western wild ginger, Asarum caudatum

Pollinator(s): Slugs
This plant is a wonderful groundcover that is ornamental in its own right. It’s also a specialty: a pollinator for slugs!

Wood rose, Rosa gymnocarpa

Pollinator(s): Bees
This plant is a spreading, shrubby perennial with small, fragrant roses that pollinators love.

Woodland strawberry, Fragaria vesca

Pollinator(s): Bees
Everyone loves wild strawberries! People and birds love the fruits, and pollinators enjoy the flowers.

Shrubs and Shrubby Trees

Most shrubs and trees for pollinators have a bloom season when they are spectacular, and are either green or bare the rest of the year. When they bloom, look for large gatherings of pollinators, such as bees, beetles, butterflies and a few fuzzy, bee-like flies, flocking over for nectar and pollen.

Dwarf smooth sumac, dwarf smooth sumac

Pollinator(s): Bees
This large shrub or very small tree has it all: four seasons of interesting presentation, plus enormous amounts of pollen in spring, and berries that feed birds in fall and winter.

Evergreen huckleberry, Vaccinium ovatum

Pollinator(s): Bumblebees
This small, shade loving shrub makes edible and tasty berries and has leaves all year round. Bumblebees also love its little flowers.

Golden currant, Ribes aureum var. aureum

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
Spring blooms have bright yellow flowers, similar to a forsythia but much more attractive to native pollinators.

Hairy manzanita, Arctostaphylos Columbiana

Pollinator(s): Bees
This small tree is like a miniature version of a madrone tree, and has spring blooms that native bees enjoy.

Labrador tea, Ledum, groenlandicum

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
Bees love the small white flowers on this perennial shrub, which inhabits the bogs, swamps and wet conifer forests.

Lewis’s mock orange, Philadelphus lewisii

Pollinator(s): Bees
Mock orange is delightfully fragrant and attracts both butterflies and bees.

Pacific ninebark, Physocarpus capitatus

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This small tree is still a beautiful sight with its complex bark. In summer it has big clusters of white flowers that are attractive to pollinating bees.

Paper birch, Betula papyrifera

Pollinator(s): Host plant for butterflies
This is a host plant for several butterflies and moths, including the western tiger swallowtail, the fanciest butterfly in our region.

Red flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum

Pollinator(s): Hummingbirds, bees
This flower has bright pink blooms that are assuredly a hummingbird magnet.

Red-twig dogwood, Cornus sericea

Pollinator(s): Bees, moths
This shrub has year-round appeal, and in the winter it glows red on grey days. It is also a host plant for moths and a nectar source for many types of bees.

Rose meadowsweet, Spiraea splendens var. splendens

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
This low-statured, deciduous shrub has dark-pink to purple flowers that bloom June through August in mountainous areas.

Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus

Pollinator(s): Bees, hummingbirds
This flowering shrub is part of the honeysuckle family and attracts bees and hummingbirds. It produces a white, berry-like fruite that birds, deer and other animals like to eat.

Snowbrush ceanothus, Ceanothus velutinus

Pollinator(s): Bees, butterflies
The Ceanothus genus of plants are some of the best pollinators, is a host plant, and the white flowers provide plenty of food. Its natural habitat is coniferous forest and woodlands, and has traditional medicinal properties and usages.

Supporters

The Pollinator Garden was made possible by a grant from the Pendleton and Elisabeth Miller Charitable Foundation that provided the opportunity for the Boeing Courtyard to be renovated and transformed into a living exhibit dedicated to local Seattle pollinators.

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