Choose the Best Plants You might be tempted to rush to the garden center and pick the first plants that catch your eye. However, you, your garden, and pollinators will all benefit if you consider which plants perform best in our area for pollinators. Fortunately, through our plant trialing program, we have already done this work for you! For over 25 years, we have been trialing plants for their function and appearance in regional landscapes. There’s no better method of determining how a plant will look and function in a landscape than to plant it in typical soil conditions of the region and observe it. As a result, we have created the following lists of plants that grow and look best and benefit pollinators most in the Cincinnati region. We have included plants that bloom in spring, summer, and fall. We encourage you to grow a diversity of plants from these lists from early spring until fall to help feed and host our pollinator friends throughout their life cycles. To have beautiful and beneficial blooms all season long, we suggest that you grow a variety of plants that flower at different times. And be sure to include host plants that support butterfly reproduction in addition to nectar-producing flowers. (Note: registered gardens should include at least one nectar and one host plant.) More details on how our recommended plants were chosen We are very careful when recommending plants. First, we determine how likely it is that a new gardener will succeed with the plant. We then consider pollinator activity that we have observed. Most importantly, we compare our research with that of highly respected entomologists, including Joe Boggs at Ohio State Extension, Dr. Daniel Potter at University of Kentucky, and Dr. David Smitley at Michigan State University. Our recommendations include both native and exotic plants. Research suggests that the nectar and pollen of any plant, whether exotic or native, is good food for pollinators. If your plants are providing these, you are feeding pollinators. Some exotic plants are heavily favored by pollinators, while others are not. Some native plants get heavy visitation, while other receive almost none. The primary indicator of whether a plant is providing pollen and nectar is heavy visitation to its flowers. However, it’s important to note that almost all host plants for butterflies and moths are native plants. We suggest that any urban or suburban landscape consist of a rich diversity of plants that includes a strong percentage of native plants. The larger and more natural the landscape, such as in parks and preserves, the more natives it should contain.