Honey Bee Forage Plants for Backyard Gardens in Northern NM


Alliums Allium (various). Summer bloom. Perennial. Water thrifty to moderate water.

Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum. Mid summer bloom. Three-foot erect narrow, short-lived perennial with spikes of light blue flowers. Delightful anise scent.

Basil Ocimun baslicum. Many varieties: Lemon, Genovese, Anise, Thai and others. Tender annual herb. Aromatic leaves. Good companion plant with tomatoes. Likes regular garden soil and water.

Borage Borago officinalis. Annual. Blue flowers in summer. Regular garden soil and water.

Catmint Nepeta x faassenii. Early summer bloom, purple flowers, long bloom. Low water.

Comfrey Symphytum officinale. Tall perennial with mauve, white or blue flowers in drooping clusters, blooms spring to early summer. Likes some moisture. An excellent nectar source.

Fennel Foeniculum vulgare. A highly scented and flavorful annual herb, produces large umbels of pale yellow flowers in late summer. Needs regular garden soil and water.

Germander Teucrium aroanium. Perennial ground cover, with honey-scented lavender flowers blooming in summer. Drought tolerant.

Horehound Marrubium vulgare. A perennial herb & wildflower, member of the mint family, spreading 3 ft tall and 4 foot wide, blooms all summer.

Hyssop Hyssop officinalis. Perennial, 2-3 ft tall. Flowers blue-violet, pink, white, small, tubular in spike. Blooms early to late summer.

Lamb’s Ears Stachys byzantina. Perennial, mats of fuzzy, soft silver leaves sprout 1.5 ft tall spikes of pinkish purple flowers in late spring, early summer, spreads easily.

Lavender Lavandula (various). Late spring to summer bloom, depending on type. Fragrant flowers, about 2 ft x 2 ft. Full sun and low water. Perennial, lives about 5 years.

Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis. A lemon-scented member of the mint family. Perennial with small white flowers blooming in summer. Prefers moist soil and partial shade.

Marjoram Oreganum majoricum. Perennial fragrant herb with small white flowers borne in clusters in summer, drought tolerant.

Mullein Mullein spp. Long-flowering, drought tolerant plant produces spikes of yellow flowers attractive to bees.

Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis. Alcalde Cold Hardy and Arp are the best varieties (with protection) in Santa Fe. Upright evergreen aromatic shrub 3-4 ft tall, with small blue blossoms in early summer. Low water once established.

Mints Mentha (various). A hardy perennial, grows to 1 ft, spreads easily, prefers partial shade and a moist well-drained soil.

Nasturtium Tropaeolum (various). Annual, easy from seed in good garden soil with moisture, various rich colored edible flowers, pretty green leaves, to 1 ft tall.

Thyme Thymus (various). Many varieties, some creeping, others tiny dense rounded shrubs, most have aromatic leaves blooming in late spring.

Winter Savory Satureja Montana. Perennial to 1 ft tall, with tiny flowers from July to September, tolerates drought.



Aster (various). Purple Aster: Aster bigelovii. Profusely branched annual or biennial to 3 feet. Becomes a solid mound of lilac flowers in the fall. Plant seeds anytime, early fall is best. Water for more abundant flowering.

Bachelor’s Buttons Centaurea Cyanus. Annual with blue, white and pink flowers. Full sun, average water, reseeds itself readily

Blanket Flower, Firewheel Gaillardia (various). Delicate red & yellow annual daisy. Blooms all summer, native.

Blue Flax Linum Lewisii. Easy, perennnial to 2 ft. Small blue flowers open every morning and fade in the afternoon. Easy to start from seed. Likes sun or part shade.

Buckwheat Eriogonum spp. Great drought tolerant plant attractive to meny pollinators

California poppy Eschscholzia californica. Annual. Yellow-orange flowers in late spring. Full sun and sandy well-drained, poor soil

Cosmos Cosmos spp. Easy to grow brightly colored blossoms loved by honeybees bloom in midsummer.

Crocus Early spring bloom, various colors available, drought tolerant.

Globe thistle Echinops. Blue flowering perennial, full sun, summer bloom, drought tolerant.

Goldenrod Solidago spp. Yellow flowers in mid summer and fall, drought tolerant.

Purple Cone Flower Echinacea. Drought tolerant once established, perennial comes in various colors, summer bloom.

Rocky Mountain Bee Plant Cleome serrulata. Native annual pink to purple pink flowers in summer, drought tolerant.

Rocky Mountain Penstemon Penstemon Strictus. Perennial with blue/purple flowers in late spring , drought tolerant.

Russian Sage Perovska atriplicafolia. Perennial 4-5 ft tall, shrub-like with long-blooming spikes of blue flowers in summer and late summer. Drought tolerant.

Sages Salvia (various). Some are native, some with fragrant foliage. Spikes of blue, purple, raspberry or red flowers, summer blooming to 3 ft tall, drought tolerant.

Scarlet GlobemallowSphaeralcea coccinea. Low spreading perennial with orange saucer-shaped flowers in late summer, very drought tolerant.

Scorpionweed Phacelia ssp. Drought tolerant purple flower attractive to many pollinators

Sedum Sedum spp. Fall blooming and hardy, especially Autumn Joy and Ruby Glow.

Sunflower Helianthus spp. Fall blooming yellow blooms attract many species of pollinators


Bushes, Shrubs, Hedges & Vines

Blue Mist Spirea Caryopteris x clandonesis. Blue flowering 3-4 ft tall shrub, summer blooming, well drained soil.

Cotoneaster. Cotoneaster (various). A member of the rose family. A low-growing woody shrub or ground cover, with small pinkish flowers in May-June, followed by showy berries and purple/red fall foliage. The leaves can be used as larval food by several lepidoptera (moths and butterflies).

Fern bush Chamaebatiaria millefolium. Native, grows 6-8 ft tall and wide, with columns of small white flowers in midsummer, fragrant foliage, drought tolerant when well established.

Firethorn Pyracantha (various). Thorny evergreen large shrubs, with small white flowers in late spring, early summer, and red berry-like pomes in the fall. Likes good garden soil, can experience die-back if winter is harsh.

Honeysuckle Lonicera (various). Deliciously fragrant flowers in summer. Some are shrubs, others vines. Bees prefer white flowering types. Pruning may be necessary to control growth. Enjoys full sun and regular watering.

Lilac Syringa (various). Grows to 6 ft tall with panicles of fragrant flowers in spring. Drought tolerant. Flowers on old wood. The leaves are used as larval food by various lepidoptera (moths & butterflies) and used by leaf cutter bees in nest construction.

Mock Orange Philadelphus microphyllus. Native shrub with copious fragrant blossoms from June to August. Grows 6 or more ft tall, likes moderate water, regular garden soil, partial shade.

Oregon Grape Mahonia aquifolium. An evergreen shrub 2- 4 ft tall, with fragrant small yellow flowers in the spring, followed by clusters of blue berries in fall. Prefers partial shade and regular water, but is drought tolerant, and tolerates harsh conditions.

Raspberry. Rubus (various). Plants like regular water, full sun and good garden soil. White flowers, delicious berries.

Serviceberry Amelanchier. Early spring bloomer with white flowers attractive to wildlife

Snowberry Symphoricarpsos albus. White to light pink flowers attract bees and produce decorative white fruit attractive to birds. Extensive root systems help stabilize soils.

Sand Cherry Prunus besseyi. A hardy deciduous shrub 3-8 ft tall, profusely blooming with small pink- white flowers in spring, enjoys some water, but drought tolerant when established. Has black berries and red fall foliage. Hardy .

Winter Honeysuckle Lonicera fragrantissima. Early blooming white, yellow and pink flowers attract bees and produce berries for the birds.



Basswood or American linden Tilia Americana. Medium-sized to large deciduous tree reaching a height of 60 to 120. Aromatic yellow flowers are very attractive to bees and produce some of the best honey in the world. Grows best in rich loam soil.

Bradford Pear Pyrus calleryana. Blooms in April, likes regular soil and water. 15-25 ft high.

Catalpa Catalpa. White trumpet-shaped flowers bloom in late spring, prefers some water. Or plant the Chitalpa, Chitalpa X chilopsis, a cross of the Catalpa with the Desert Willow for a more drought tolerant and hardier tree.

Chaste Tree Vitex agnus-castus. This multi-stemmed tree has delicate-textured aromatic foliage and grows 15 to 20 feet tall. Prefers full sun and some winter protection. Lavender flowers in late summer are very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Chokecherry Prunus virginiana. A suckering shrub or small tree. White flowers are produced in mid spring that are very attractive to bees and produce dark berries attractive to birds.

Fruit Trees (various). Listed here more or less in order of bloom time from early to late spring: Apricot, Peach, Plum, Sweet Cherry, Pear, Crabapple, Apple.
Apricot trees grow well in Santa Fe area, but many years the blooms are hit by late freezes. Sweet cherry trees are pollinated by honeybees, but sour cherry trees are self-pollinating. Crabapple trees generally have comparatively long periods of bloom and pretty blossoms. All fruit trees like regular soil, water and mulch.

Golden Raintree Koilreuteria paniculata. Grows 15-30 ft high, with large clusters of cheerful bright yellow flowers in July, followed by ornamental seed pods in the fall. Grows quickly, tolerates heat, drought, and wind. Can become invasive.

Locust Robinia neomexicana. A small native tree (8-15 ft) with drooping clusters of pretty purplish -pink flowers. Good for erosion control. A tough tree, tolerates alkaline soil, and some drought. Spreads by suckers and seeds.

Redbud Cercis Canadensis. Grows 20-30 ft tall, with lovely rose-purple flowers in the spring.

Wild Plum Prunus americana. Native shrub or small tree, to 10 ft, with copious white flowers in the spring, followed by small sweet plums. Enjoys some water, but hardy.






2 responses to “Honey Bee Forage Plants for Backyard Gardens in Northern NM”

  1. Nancy K. Avatar
    Nancy K.

    Thank you for compiling this detailed list of bee-friendly plants for Santa Fe residents who want to know how they can help the hives and their beekeepers. I was wondering if I could share this list on the Sustainable Santa Fe facebook fan page and friend profile, as well as the Sustainable Santa Fe wordpress blog. Thank you.

    1. jason Avatar

      Please do! It would be great if you linked directly or included a link citation, it will help raise our search engine rankings and get our information out to even more people.