Container gardening for wildlife

Asked March 18, 2018, 6:48 PM EDT

Hi there, I have a balcony and I'm looking to up my container gardening game this year! I'm looking for plants, preferably native, that will attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects that can be grown in containers. The balcony is mostly shaded by the railings and surrounding trees in the summer. We have a couple of planters hanging on the railings which get more sun, but also get wetter when it rains. The attached images are composites of each end of the balcony from different times during a sunny day in mid March, we will get less sun than this in the summer when the sun is higher and trees have leaves. Any help and ideas greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Baltimore Maryland

3 Responses

Excellent that you want to plant containers to attract pollinators and beneficial insects. The limiting factor will be the amount of shade you have on your balcony. Also, It would be difficult to suggest only native plants. Your goal is to plant annuals and perennials that will supply blooms all season-long.
In your deck boxes on your railing, the annual sweet alyssum would be a good choice because you need something low growing. This will bloom all summer for you.
Planting a container with herbs is a good idea. Flowering herbs like thyme, oregano, basil, borage, lavender, and chives really draw bees. Parsley is a host plant for swallowtail caterpillars (often called parsley caterpillars). The added benefit is you get to enjoy using the herbs too. Coneflowers, anise hyssop (Agastache), milkweed, bee balm, and asters (which bloom later summer into fall when butterflies are looking for nectar plants) all are excellent pollinator plants.

Some annuals to plant are pentas, salvia, zinnias, fuchsia (needs shade), lantana and catmint (Nepeta). Again the amount of shade you have may limit your choices.


Fantastic! Thank you so much for your response, that is really helpful. I was planning to plant lots of herbs for cooking anyway, so even better :) I guess now i just have to wait for it to stop snowing!