BUILDING a pollinator garden is one of the best ways to help support local wildlife (and humans!). Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are essential to a healthy ecosystem.
Close to 75% of all flowering plants rely on pollinators for seed and fruit production. Those plants are responsible for providing much of the air we breath and the food we eat. About ⅓ of our food is sourced from plants depend on pollinators for reproduction.
Wildlife rely even more heavily on pollinators than we do and, unlike us, when their primary food source is scarce, there are not alway many alternatives available.
Here are 4 easy steps you can take to start your pollinator garden:
- Plant native. Native plants are the best adapted to the seasonal conditions in a given area. They usually do not require fertilizer, need less water than nonnative plants, host the most beneficial insects, provide permanent shelter and food for wildlife, and promote local biological diversity.
- Incorporate a wide variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season. Planting a diverse group of flowers that bloom at different times in the spring and summer ensures that insects and birds have plenty of food. Make sure to include several different flower species known to be a good source of pollen, nectar, or butterfly host plants such as: Goldenrod, Black-eyed susan, Milkweed, Beebalm, and Mountainmint.
- Plant an assortment of flower colors and shapes to delight pollinator’s visual pallet! Incorporating flowers with different colors and shapes ensures that you will attract a wide variety of pollinators. Butterflies are attracted to white, pink, purple, red, yellow, and orange flowers. Bees can see and are attracted to yellow, blue-green, blue, and ultraviolet light.
- Don’t use pesticides. Pesticides may be effective at killing pests but they kill many beneficial insects and harm other wildlife in the process. The effects may be acute or chronic and wildlife need not come in contact with pesticides directly to be harmed. Often times, their food sources may become contaminated or disappear altogether.
- BONUS: If you have a larger area, plant trees! Many native trees, such as Oak, Black cherry, and Willow host hundreds of beneficial insects– including butterflies and moths.
To learn more about how to plant your wildlife garden, click here to see the Xerces Society’s native plant list or pick up a copy of Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy.