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Soil Health, Cover Crops & Pollinators

Cover crops can have beneficial effects for pollinators. The chart below lists the Insectary and Pollinator Friendly Cover Crops for Illinois. The full description can be found in the Biology Technical Note 23, section I of the Illinois NRCS Field Office Tech Guide.

Insectary and Pollinator Friendly Cover Crops for Illinois
(Insectary plantings attract beneficial insects for biological control of crop pests when planted adjacent to crop fields)

Common Name Bloom Period Flower Color *Height Mature
Light Needs *Drought
Borage early blue 1.5 sun low
Canola early yellow 1 sun low
Buckwheat mid-to-late white 1.5 sun moderate
White Lupine early-to-mid blue or white 3 sun low
Alfalfa mid purple 1.5 sun moderate
Sweet Clover mid-to-late yellow 5 sun moderate
Phacelia early purple 3 sun-to-shade moderate
Dakin radish early-to-mid white 2 sun moderate
Alsike clover early-to-mid yellow 2 sun low
Crimson clover early red 1 sun-to-part shade low
White clover mid white   sun-to-part shade low
Purple vetch early-to-mid purple 1.5 sun-to-part shade low
Fava bean early-to-mid white 4 sun low
Hairy vetch early blue 1 sun-to-part shade low


Biology Technical Note 23 provides information on how to plan for, protect, and create habitat for pollinators in agricultural settings. Pollinators are an integral part of our environment and our agricultural systems; they are
important in 35 percent of global crop production. Animal pollinators include bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, flies, beetles, ants, bats and hummingbirds. This technical note focuses on native bees, the most important pollinators in temperate North America, but also addresses the habitat needs of butterflies and, to a lesser degree, other beneficial insects.

To find the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide, go to and select eFOTG on the right column.

Contact your local NRCS office to learn more about technical and financial assistance available at

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A Printed Version of this fact sheet is available in Adobe Acrobat

SH-CCfs_ILPollinator.pdf (PDF, 1,158kb)