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What’s the best lavender?

Until recently, I assumed that all lavenders were equally as attractive to bees and other pollinators. I almost always see something feeding upon all the lavenders in my garden, and I tend not to be picky when choosing them at the garden centre.

However, new research by Mihail Garbuzov and Francis L.W. Ratnieks has found great differences in the species and cultivars. The research, published in the Functional Ecology journal, compared the attractiveness of 32 popular summer-flowering plants to pollinating insects. The most-visited plants varied over the two years of the study, with Nepeta (Catmint) Agastache (Giant hyssop), Salvia (Sage), Hyssopus (Hyssop) and various lavenders being consistently the most often visited.

It was no surprise to Pelargonium (sometimes called annual geranium) at the bottom of the list, having hardly being visited at all. It was a surprise however to see that some lavender cultivars were close to the bottom, with very few visits!