Practically all plants require pollination to produce abundant fruit or vegetables. And all plants rely almost entirely on bees to accomplish this. It's true that some pollination will occur from other insects and wind action (corn for example). However, this usually results in a hit or miss, skimpy crop. So, it is necessary to attract bees to your garden. Lots of bees!
A search on the internet for plants that attract bees will result in many plants you can use. However, many of these plants are uncommon flowers you never heard of, may not be what you want in your garden and are not the easiest to grow. However, there is one plant that is never mentioned...and it is one of the absolute best. That plant is the tomatillo.
If you are not familiar with the tomatillo, it is the little green Mexican tomato-like fruit used in making salsa and other Mexican dishes. It may also be used in other cuisines, but is well known in Mexican cooking. And...yes, tomatillo (and tomatoes) are technically fruit...not vegetables. Although, most cooks and gardeners consider them vegetables.
The tomatillo is easy to grow anywhere regular tomatoes will grow. It requires little care and bees love it. The tomatillo grows about 4 feet tall and spreads out to a 4 foot or more diameter. Thus, like tomatoes, it should be staked to keep off the ground. The tomatillo produces hundreds of small yellow flowers, continuously, all summer long. Bees are highly attracted to the tomatillo blossoms and will swarm around from sunup to sundown all summer. Of course if the tomatillo is planted near your garden, the bees will move from the tomatillos to blossoms on other plants in your garden, pollinating them.
If you are only interested in attracting bees, plant one tomatillo on the edge (or center) of your garden. However, if you would also like to have tomatillos to eat, you must have two plants. Some dispute this and I have gotten tomatillos from one plant. But to be safe and attract more bees, plant two. A word of caution...only the tomatillos themselves are eatable. Other parts of the plant are NOT.
Tomatillo starter plants are available in early summer in many garden shops. However, it is not well known in some locations and you may not find them locally. If this is your situation, seed and plants may be obtained from the POPULAR MAIL ORDER SEED CATALOGS.
Once you have a producing tomatillo plant you can save the seed from the tomatillos for next year and will not have to buy again.
How to Grow Tomatillos
Tomatillos like hot weather. They are grown just like tomatoes. Provide plenty of water, and mulch around the plant to retain water. Feed them regularly, and switch over from nitrogen to higher phosphorous and potassium as the plants grow, to promote flowering and fruit set. Tomatillos will not tolerate frost, so plant after all danger of frost is past and protect if a frost is forecast.
Like tomatoes, tomatillos have few disease or pests problems. Occasionally, you may find damage from the tomato hornworm, snails or slugs. Your garden shop will have many organic products to eliminate these pests (please do not put poisonous chemicals in your garden). To prevent disease, do not crowd your tomatillos. Give them space for air circulation and avoid wetting the leaves (water at the base of the plant).
Tomatillos are ripe when the paper-like husk turns brown and breaks open. Remove the husk, and rinse the oily substance off. Store in a cool, dry place until you are ready to use them.
So, plant tomatillos in your next garden to attract lots of bees and stand by for amazing results