Early bloomers are the first important food source for bees and other insects. Colonial species such as honey bees are even dependent on them. Of course, they need nectar-giving flowers not only in spring, but also until autumn, which today’s cultivated landscapes offer less and less. However, if you own a garden, there are a number of things you can do to make it bee-friendly yet attractive.

Basic rules for a bee-friendly garden

It is actually not difficult to support bees in their search for food in spring so that they can find protein-rich pollen and nectar at any time of the year. They need the pollen to feed their brood. For example, you can simply leave a small part of the garden to itself. You should also pay attention to the diversity of varieties. The more varied the choice of plants, the better for the bees. Many wild bees only fly to certain plants in search of pollen and nectar.

For a permanent supply of food, early, medium and late flowering flowers are planted so that there are no breaks in flowering. Only unfilled flowers are interesting for bees. In the case of double flowers, the stamens that produce the pollen have receded or the petals prevent access, so that bees cannot find pollen here even in spring. Nevertheless, the selection of suitable plants is large.

bulbous and bulbous flowers

Spring Crocus (Crocus vernus)

  • Classic among the early bloomers
  • Growth heights from 10 to 15 cm
  • Flowering time from February to March/April
  • Flowers white, yellow, blue or lilac in color and fragrant
  • Some with violet stripes
  • Sunny to partially shaded areas, normal garden soil

Hohler Lerchensporn (Corydalis cava)

In nature, it is mainly found in beech and deciduous forests. Its flowers have a conspicuous, curved spur, to which this plant owes its name. It only shows up for a short time in spring and already wilts after the seeds have ripened in May.

  • Grows persistent and herbaceous
  • Growth height between 10 and 30 cm
  • Flowers March to April
  • Racemes, white to violet or dark pink inflorescences
  • Partially shaded to shaded areas
  • Soil permeable, humic, nutritious and calcareous with loam
  • All parts of the plant are poisonous, tuber rhizome highly poisonous
Tip: Corydalis is grateful for a layer of mulch.

Coneflower (Puschkinia libanotica)

  • Growth height of 12-15 cm
  • Porcelain-like white flowers with a powdery blue central vein
  • Sunny and partially shaded locations
  • Fresh to moist, well-drained soils
  • Hardy and versatile flowers
Tip: You should be very careful when raking leaves in autumn. Otherwise there is a risk of ripping the emergent offspring of the cone flower out of the ground.

Reticulated iris (Iridodyctium reticulata)

These flowers, which are up to 15 cm high, are bee-friendly early bloomers and very special garden beauties. With their sweet scent, they attract insects to the garden every spring. In contrast to rhizome-forming iris species, the net iris has bulbs. In order for it to multiply, the site conditions must be good.

  • Location should be warm and sunny
  • The subsoil is rocky or sandy and calcareous at best
  • Flowers do not tolerate waterlogging
  • Bloom from February to March
  • Typical iris flowers with an intense fragrance
  • Different shades of blue, white, yellow or purple
  • Daughter bulbs flowering from the fourth year
  • Plants move in at the beginning of summer
  • Only cut off completely withered leaves

Winterling (Eranthis hyemalis)Winterlings are among the loveliest spring bulbs. Its bright yellow flowers only open when the sun shines. They form beautiful carpets of flowers, from which a delicate, sweet fragrance emanates. Very nice in combination with other early bloomers.

  • Growth height of 5-20 cm
  • Flowering time February to March
  • Deep yellow cup-shaped flowers on a lush green, slit rosette of leaves
  • Wind-protected, sunny to semi-shady locations
  • Soil sandy to loamy, tolerant of lime
  • Hardy early bloomer

Zweiblättriger Blaustern (Scilla bifolia)

Despite its small size, this early bloomer can create a spectacular effect in meadows and under deciduous trees and shrubs. It can be left to grow wild and will soon develop beautiful carpets of blue flowers.

  • Growth height 15-20 cm
  • Flowering time in March
  • Flowers blue and racemose
  • Partially shaded location
  • Soil mild, moderately acidic
  • Whole plant poisonous

Ground covering flowers

Kriechender Günsel (Ajuga reptans)

  • carpet-forming plant
  • Spread via foothills
  • Height of growth 10-30 cm, wider than high
  • Flowering time April to June
  • Whorled inflorescences up to 20 cm long
  • Sunny to partially shaded locations
  • Neutral to moderately acidic soil

Red Soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides)

This soapwort is an excellent rock garden plant and also suitable for roof gardens. When it is in bloom, it is a real feast for the eyes. Since it mainly grows in width, it is very well suited for greening bare spots.

  • Grows cushion-like with heights of up to 20 cm
  • Blooms from May to July
  • Flowers umbellate, purple-pink, red, or white
  • Sweet, floral scent
  • Very bright to full sun locations
  • Sandy to sandy-loamy soil, tolerant of lime
  • No winter protection needed

Scharbockskraut (Ficaria verna)

Lesser celandine is not only an important forage plant for bees in spring, but also delights wild herb lovers. In the right location, this spring bloomer forms smaller stands that cover the entire area over time.

  • Growth heights up to 30 cm
  • Flowering time March to May
  • Flowers golden yellow, star-shaped, long-stalked
  • Sunny, semi-shady and shady locations
  • Evenly moist, humus-rich and nutrient-rich soil
  • Toxic, especially rootstock and corms

Waldmeister (Galium odoratum)

The real woodruff has many good qualities. In spring it attracts bees and other useful insects to the garden, has a healing effect, is aromatic and very decorative. It exudes a pleasant scent that promises delicious nectar and pollen.

  • Grows flat, forming runners
  • Growth height of 10-30 cm
  • Blooms from April to May
  • Umbellate, radial, white flowers
  • Leaves whorled, fragrant, very decorative
  • Half-shady to shady locations
  • Soil humic, loose, rich in lime


Perennial Silverleaf (Lunaria rediviva)

  • Valuable native wild perennial and insect pasture
  • Bushy, loosely branched growth
  • Growth height 80-120 cm
  • Flowering time between May and July
  • Light violet, strongly scented individual flowers in long racemes
  • Thrives in shady to partially shaded locations
  • Stony, nutrient- and lime-rich soils
  • Sufficiently fine earthy and moist parts
Tip: The parchment-like pods that form after flowering are a special extra that gives this early bloomer, which is friendly to bees and moths, its characteristic appearance.

Cowslip (Primula veris)

The flowers, which are related to the primrose , adorn roadsides, meadows, embankments and one or the other garden at Easter. Unfortunately, they are becoming increasingly rare. It is all the more important to plant them in your own garden, which not only pleases the bees in spring.

  • Growth heights of 10-20 cm
  • Flowers from March to May
  • Yolk-yellow flowers arranged in umbels
  • Flowers give off a pleasantly sweet fragrance
  • Fresh, loamy clay soils with a high lime content
  • Soon forms dense stands
Tip: The cowslip should not be fertilized.

Spring Vetchling (Lathyrus vernus)

  • Excellent early flowering bee pasture
  • Grows upright, herbaceous, rhizomatous, cushion-like
  • Grows 30-40 cm high
  • Blooms from April to May
  • Flowers bell-shaped, changing color from red-violet to violet-blue
  • Sunny to semi-sunny locations
  • Well-drained, humus-rich, slightly moist, moderately nutrient-rich soil

Spotted Lungwort (Pulmonaria officinalis)The nectar-rich flowers not only enchant the human eye, but are also appreciated by bumblebees and wild bees. This plant owes its name to the white leaf spots. Lungwort is said to have a healing effect on lung diseases. In terms of location and care, it does not make any special demands.

  • Grows clumpy at first
  • Later over in width
  • Forms dense carpets in the right location
  • Growth height 30-40 cm
  • Flowering time March to May
  • Flowers initially pink, later blue-violet
  • Small, funnel-shaped, in loose clusters
  • Summer warm, semi-shady locations
  • Moist, loamy-humic, slightly calcareous soil
  • Sensitive to drought and waterlogging in spring
Tip: A special feature is the hairiness of the plant, which gives the impression of being covered with fine silver threads.

Hepatica nobilis

The liverwort is a very graceful and showy early bloomer. A special feature of this perennial is the closing of the flowers at night and in rainy weather. Root pressure from larger plants is not a problem for them.

  • Growth rosette-like, clump-forming
  • Growth heights of 5-10 cm
  • Flowering time March to April
  • Cup-shaped, blue to blue-violet flowers
  • Locations in light shade
  • Moderately dry to fresh, little tilled soil
  • PH value neutral to minimally alkaline
  • Don’t cut in the fall
  • Foliage serves as winter protection
Tip: The liverwort is a nature reserve in Germany.

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