Bloom, Set, Match

by | Sep 28, 2020 | Native Plants

There are plenty of unfussy pollinators that will sip nectar or scoop pollen from any plant they can find. But there are also some flower traits that generally appeal to particular types of pollinators (grouped together, they’re often called “pollinator syndromes”). Flower shape, fragrance, color and bloom time are all important in attracting the right pollinator and aiding in successful plant reproduction. Here are some common floral traits associated with certain types of pollinators.

ILLUSTRATIONS Samantha N. Peters


Red and orange blooms
Funnel- or trumpet-shaped flowers

Illustration of hummingbird next to a Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) flower

Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) flower


Putrid smells
Challenging, complex flowers in dark brown, red or purple

Illustration of fly next to a Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) flower

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)


Often purple and red blooms
Faint-but-fresh scents
A broad place to land

Illustration of butterfly next to a Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) flower

Gregg’s mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) flower


Bright, highly visible flowers in white, yellow or blue
Ultraviolet patterns on petals

Illustration of bee next to Mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea) in bloom

Mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea)


Pale flowers in white, yellow and pink tones
Sweet scents
Night blooms

Illustration of Datura (Datura wrightii) in bloom and a moth

Datura (Datura wrightii)


Bowl-shaped flowers in white or green
Sweet, fruity, often pungent fragrances

Illustration of Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) in bloom and a beetle

Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)


White and greenish flowers
Strong and musty night smells

Illustration of Organpipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi) in bloom and a bat

Organpipe cactus (Stenocereus thurberi)

To demonstrate these features, Center horticulturists planted a new Theme Garden; learn more about supporting native bees here.