Bee-friendly ground cover plants: our top 15 for every location


I am a student of agricultural sciences and a real country kid. At home, I love tending my small vegetable garden and spending time out in nature. When not outdoors, I love to write. Beyond gardening and writing, however, I am particularly passionate about wildlife.

Favourite fruit: currants and raspberries
Favourite vegetables: salsify, savoy cabbage and potatoes

Ground covers can be a decorative and low-maintenance addition to any garden bed. But did you know that bees can also benefit from these plants? We present 15 bee-friendly ground cover plants for sun, shade and winter.

Bee resting on a purple phlox blossom
Many ground covers are not only decorative, but also particularly bee-friendly [Photo: Lipatova Maryna/]

Out of all the beneficial insects for your garden, bees are probably some of the best known and most popular. Due to their remarkable performance as pollinators, many plants in our gardens depend on the help of bees. Unfortunately, the bee population, especially the number of highly specialised wild bee species, continues to decline.

Bee-friendly ground cover plants are not only a good way to support bees in your own garden, but also benefit us as gardeners. They are easy to care for, can be grown almost anywhere and, unlike lawns or gravel areas, often provide a good food supply for these little pollinators. Read on to discover some plants that make particularly bee-friendly ground covers.

Tip: When it comes to planting a bee-friendly garden, diversity is key. Bees need a sufficient food supply all year round, which only a diverse garden can provide.

A great alternative to planting individual plants is using a seed mixture that contains a variety of seeds that will flower at different times.

Bee-friendly ground cover plants for the shade

Shady areas in the garden are often difficult to design. Planting ground covers is a decorative and at the same time insect-friendly way of adding some green to these areas, while also providing an excellent source of food.

Wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa)

In partial shade and among woody plants, wood anemones begin to flower as early as the beginning of March and often last until the end of April. This makes them perfect as the first food sources for bees.

Ivy (Hedera helix)

Ivy is a perfect bee-friendly ground cover for the shade. As the inconspicuous flowers of ivy only appear from the end of August into September, ivy is one of the last and most important food sources before the barren winter months.

A bee resting on an ivy flower
The inconspicuous flowers of ivy are an important source of food for bees [Photo: footageclips/]

Liverleaf (Hepatica nobilis)

With its early flowering from March to April, the liverleaf is considered a bee-friendly ground cover as it is rich in pollen. In a shady location, the flower feels perfectly at home and survives the winter without any problems under a light layer of mulch.

Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

The small, single flowers of the foam flower appear from April to May. The lush flowers attract bees and butterflies alike and are a welcome source of food.

Astilbes (Astilbe)

Astilbe is a particularly good source of food in autumn as flowers late from June to September and provides a good amount of pollen and nectar for bees. Small varieties in particular are wonderful as ground covers.

A bee rests on the spire of a magnificent astilbe
The magnificent astilbesare also among the bee-friendly plants [Photo: Anastasiia Shuvalova/]

Bee-friendly ground covers for sunny areas

Sunny locations are also suitable for planting bee-friendly ground covers. With their splendid flowers, most ground covers are not only suitable as a source of food, but also prove to be quite eye-catching.

Thrift (Armeria maritima)

The decorative thrift is not only easy to care for, but also makes a great bee-friendly ground cover. From May to June, it forms lush clusters of flowers which attract not only bees, but also many other beneficial insects.

Common stonecrop (Sedum acre)

Easy to care for, robust and hardy – the succulent stonecrop is perfect as a bee-friendly ground cover. Numerous small flowers appear from June to July, which serve as a reliable food source for bees and other insects.

A bee rests on the flower on a yellow common stonecrop
Common stonecrop is low-maintenance and insect-friendly [Photo: Lipatova Maryna/]

Bloody cranesbill (Geranium sanguineum)

The bloody cranesbill is considered to be a bee friendly ground cover due to its long and late flowering from June to October. Many bees are particularly happy about the additional nectar and pollen supply during this time.

Catmint (Nepeta)

Cats are not the only ones fond of catmint – the plant is also suitable as a bee-friendly ground cover. The high nectar value in particular makes this plant attractive to insects.

Moss phlox (Phlox subulata)

If you are looking for a flowering ground cover that is also bee-friendly, you can hardly do without the moss phlox. With its lush flowering from May to June, it attracts numerous bees and offers them a rich supply of pollen and nectar.

The pink flowers of the moss phlox
With its numerous flowers, moss phlox is one of the bee-friendly ground covers [Photo: AKI’s Palette/]

Winter hardy bee-friendly ground cover plants

Hardy ground covers are extremely popular with many gardeners because they are particularly easy to care for, while also being bee-friendly at the same time. The following five plants are perfect examples of winter hardy, bee-friendly ground covers.

Lesser periwinkle (Vinca minor)

Small periwinkle is suitable as a bee-friendly ground cover for both sunny and shady areas of your garden. It will, however, produce fewer flowers in the shade. Lesser periwinkle flowers from April to May and can flower a second time in August and September, making them particularly valuable for bees.

A bee rests on the purple flower of the lesser periwinkle
The lesser periwinkle is also popular with wild bees [Photo: Mykyta Voloshyn Voloh/]

Dwarf cornel (Cornus canadensis)

Unlike its close relatives, the dwarf cornel is an evergreen ground cover that is also bee friendly. From May to June, it produces its white flowers, which bees like to visit.

Selfheal (Prunella vulgaris)

As it flowers from July to September, the selfheal provides food precisely when things are beginning to become a little scarce for bees. Butterflies and bumblebees also like to fly to this insect-friendly ground cover.

Bugle (Ajuga reptans)

With its shiny metallic leaves and striking flowers, bugle is both a decorative and bee-friendly ground cover. During its flowering period from April to June, bees, bumblebees and butterflies appreciate the food this hardy ground cover has to offer.

The purple flowers of the bugle plant
The bugle is a hardy ground covering plant [Photo: decoplus/]

Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)

Low-growing cultivars of the cinquefoil make perfect bee-friendly ground covers that are also winter hardy. Thanks to its long and persistent flowering, which lasts from June to October, this plant is very popular with bees.

It is not only ground covers that can be particularly bee-friendly. Find out which perennials are particularly well accepted by bees in our article on bee-friendly perennials.