How to Attract Pollinators To Your Garden – 5 Simple Tips
Pollinators are essential to our environment, according to The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, an international nonprofit organization that protects the natural world through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitats. Pollinators are responsible for the reproduction of over 85% of the world’s flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world’s crop species. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately 25% of all birds, and of mammals ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears.
While birds, bats, and even some mammals function as pollinators, insects do the bulk of the pollination that affects our daily lives, especially bees. Nectar and pollen are the two things bees look for when visiting your plants. Sugar-loaded nectar is the bee’s main source of energy, and pollen provides a balanced diet of proteins and fats. The importance of bees, butterflies and other pollinators to our ecosystem cannot be overstressed, and finding ways to invite them into your own garden is an easy way to help ensure their survival as well as our and that of our planet.
Here are 5 easy steps you can take to make your landscape popular with pollinators:
1. Use Native Plants
A good place to start to attract beneficial bees and butterflies to your garden is to include native plants in your landscape. Many hybridized plants are grown for features we humans value, such as disease-resistance or long bloom times, but in the course of this type of hybridization, plants may have had their nectar and pollen production reduced, rendering them useless to pollinators. Research suggests native plants are four times more attractive to native bees than exotic flowers.
2. Avoid Pesticides
Most pesticides aren’t selective and wind up killing off beneficial bugs along with the pests. At Farmside, we use Integrated Pest Management (IPM), relying on the least invasive methods for controlling pests, which often include non-poisonous methods such as proper site selection, pruning, plant pairings and soil amendments. We can help you with safe pest management techniques for your landscape and you can reach out to your local county extension office for more assistance.
3. Choose a Variety of Flower Colors
Bees have good color vision, and are drawn to a variety of bright colors. They are particularly attracted to blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow blooms, so be sure to include them in your pollinator garden.
4. Plant Flowers in Clusters
Flowers clustered into swaths of one species will attract more pollinators than individual plants scattered through the habitat patch. Where space allows, make the clumps four feet or more in diameter for the most effective impact.
5. Include Plant Variety and Diversity
Include flowers of different shapes and different bloom times, to keep pollinators coming back to your landscape. There are four thousand different species of bees in North America, and they are all different sizes, have different tongue lengths, fly at different times throughout the season and will feed on different shaped flowers. The wider the range of flower shapes, and the longer you can sequence bloom time throughout spring, summer and fall, the more bees can benefit. Be sure to plant where bees will visit – they prefer sunny spots over shade, and need shelter from strong winds.
Here is a partial list of native plants pollinators are particularly attracted to:
- Aster (Aster)
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
- Caltrop (Kallstroemia)
- Creosote Bush (Larrea)
- Currant (Ribes)
- Elderberry (Sambucus)
- Goldenrod (Solidago)
- Huckleberry (Vaccinium)
- Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium)
- Lupine (Lupinus)
- Oregon Grape (Berberis)
- Penstemon (Penstemon)
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
- Rabbit-Brush (Chrysothamnus)
- Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
- Sage (Salvia)
- Scorpion-Weed (Phacelia)
- Snowberry (Symphoricarpos)
- Stonecrop (Sedum)
- Sunflower (Helianthus)
- Wild Buckwheat (Eriogonum)
- Wild-Lilac (Ceanothus)
- Willow (Salix)
Main mage photo credit: JGGRZ on Pixabay