Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Have you considered growing a pollinator garden?

Photo by Ersin Aslan from Pexels

Have you ever considered making a place in your landscape specifically for native pollinators? Doing so can help preserve those that are struggling to exist. You might not think of pollinators such as bees,  wasps and butterflies as being under threat, but many are. We usually blame overuse of insecticides as being the culprit, but there are others. Diseases, parasites and predators take their toll. By providing a pollinator-friendly habitat, you help them thrive, as well as enjoy their presence. You also gain a sense of pride in doing good for the environment.

You don't need much space to establish a pollinator garden. A few plants on your deck or patio can attract them. If you have a large area available, by all means, use it.

Pollinators have three basic needs, common even to you and me - food, water, and shelter for places to hide and begin their little families.

Food Sources - Host Plants

We picture bees and butterflies feeding on nectar from flowers, but juvenile pollinators don't do that. Young ones feed on stems and foliage, and not always of the same plants. Proper food supplies should include both.

To determine exactly which you'll need to plant may require a bit of study on your part. Good plants for pollinators include aromatic herbs, annuals, perennials, and even some weeds. features plant collections for butterflies and other pollinators. Plant a wide variety. Select species that will provide blooms throughout the growing season. Research the species of pollinators commonly found in your area, then provide the foods they enjoy.

Remember that native pollinators often prefer native plants, so be sure to include some in or around your garden. It's not a good idea to gather plants from the wild. Some may be endangered and protected. Sow seed where possible. For mature plants, search for those nurseries that specialize in native species. There are a growing number of them. Native Plant societies can help you find sources.


Pollinators need water. You'll often find bees gathered along the edges of bird baths. Butterflies will cluster around mud puddles, birdbaths, and even dung. Be sure to provide water sources for them. Still, shallow water is best. You needn't provide the dung.

Shelter, Nesting Sites and Materials

You'd be surprised at how resourceful little creatures can be when it comes to establishing homes.

That aside, pollinators will burrow in plant stems, hide in flower pots, small brush piles, and even nest in bundled drinking straws. Dryer lint, cotton balls, and the mud from puddles will be used for building materials.

After providing for your pollinators' needs, please be careful not to lure them to destruction. By that I mean, avoid using pesticides and herbicides in or around your pollinator garden. Both organic and synthetic pesticides can be harmful. Herbicides can kill the very plants you provided for pollinators' benefit.

Pollinator gardens fascinate young and old, but especially the young. Remember how enthralled you were as a child while watching butterflies and bees? Pass the feeling along to your own children, grandchildren, or even to kids in the neighborhood. You and they will be delighted that you did.

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