Pollinator Gardening

What are these pollinators? They are critters that pollinate flowers, moving the pollen to the stigma. Once pollinated, a flower produces seed. Some seed are just bare seed, like cosmos seed. Some seed are formed inside fruit or vegetables.

Many species of critters are pollinators. Some are in decline and others are still too numerous for comfort. Bees, butterflies, moths, hover flies, flies, midges, ants, wasps, mosquitoes, beetles, hummingbirds, and bee flies are pollinators. Even thrips, the horrific plant pest, is a pollinator.

When one creates a butterfly garden, it also becomes a pollinator garden, attracting other pollinators. With a few simple additions to a butterfly garden, it becomes a more balanced pollinator and hummingbird garden as well.

1. Obviously, pollinators are attracted to flowers. A wide variety of colors, shapes, and sizes of blooms is recommended. In the gardening section of this website is information about several nectar plants.

Butterfly and pollinator garden

Butterfly and pollinator garden

Banded Sphinx Moth drinking from four o'clock blooms

Banded Sphinx Moth drinking from four o’clock blooms

2. Bloom time should be continual throughout the times of the year that pollinators are out and about. Some plants are spring bloomers while others bloom only in the fall. Some bloom in cycles, blooms for one week and the next five weeks they do not bloom. Stagger planting times for annuals that bloom for only a short period of time. Don’t forget to plant those night blooming flowers for moths, such as four o’clocks and evening primrose.

Pollinating

3. Create a moist spot or pond in your garden. Pollinators need moisture. A bit of compost or manure mixed into damp soil provides salts that some pollinators need. (A pond may have minnows or other small fish to eat mosquito larvae before they become adults and make your garden a miserable place to visit.)

4. Most pollinators prefer sunlight. Choose a sunny portion of your yard for a garden that focuses on pollinators. A few pollinators prefer shade and a few plants can be planted in the shade for these pollinators.

Zebra Longwing butterflies prefer shadier areas

Zebra Longwing butterflies prefer shadier areas

Bee with a pollen coated abdomen

Bee with a pollen coated abdomen

5. Leave a dead limb or tree trunk in the area. Some beetles and bees nest in dead trees.

6. Include host plants for butterflies and moths. They are dependent on certain species of plants to multiply. In the gardening section of this website is information about many host plants.

7. Use pesticides only when it is necessary. Few pesticides are species specific. If a pesticide kills one type of pest, chances are it will kill many other species of insects. Do a bit of research to find out which pesticide will do the least damage in a garden. Remember, organic pesticides are as deadly as inorganic pesticides. Dead is dead, no matter the source.

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