Save the World, Save the Pollinators
Healthy, happy bees need good homes with plenty of food and no poisons. Planting pollen- and nectar-rich flowers is a very important way to help counter the decline in pollinator populations. Most bees are attracted to flowers for their pollen as well as their nectar.
The most important step you can take is to fill your garden or pots with pollinator-friendly plants. Any size garden can attract and support pollinators, from a wildflower meadow to a planter with a few well-chosen species. There are many annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs to choose from. Don’t forget to include plants like dill, fennel, and milkweed that butterfly larva like to feed on. Please see the list of Pollinator attracting plants at the end of this blog.
U.S. Lists a Bumble Bee Species as Endangered for First Time Population has plunged almost 90 percent since 1990s; the species is seen as a key pollinator of blueberries, tomatoes and wildflowers. Read the article here.
Many gardeners wonder what exactly organic gardening means. The simple answer is that organic gardeners don’t use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides on their plants. But gardening organically is much more than what you don’t do. When you garden organically, you think of your plants as part of a whole system within Nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and even insects. An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes.
Many pesticides, even organic ones are toxic to bees and other pollinators. If you do use pesticides make sure to apply them carefully and selectively. The most important rule to remember is to apply them in the evening or early morning when there are no pollinators present. You should also avoid the flowers when spraying!
Butterflies, bees and other pollinators need shelter to hide from predators, get out of the elements and rear their young. Let a hedgerow or part of your lawn grow wild for ground-nesting bees. Let a pile of grass cuttings or a log decompose in a sunny place on the ground. Or, allow a dead tree to stand to create nooks for butterflies and solitary bees.
Artificial nesting boxes can also help increase the population of pollinators in your area. Wooden blocks with the proper-sized holes drilled into them will attract mason bees. Bat boxes provide a place for bats to raise their young.
PROVIDE FOOD AND WATER
A pollinator garden will provide pollen and nectar. Consider adding special feeders to help attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Bees, birds and butterflies also all need water. Install a water garden, a birdbath or a catch basin for rain. Butterflies are attracted to muddy puddles, which they will flock to for salts and nutrients as well as water.
PLANTS THAT ATTRACT POLLINATORS
The plants that you use to create your landscape will also provide additional food, nectar and pollen for pollinators in your yard. As you are looking at your space, refer to this list of plants to get ideas for your patio or yard.
It is important to be aware of the source when purchasing the plants that you put in your yard. Some growing operations use neonicotinoids on the plants that they grow. This class of chemicals are absorbed by plants and can be present in pollen and nectar, making them toxic to bees. Four years ago there was uncertainty about the impact these insecticides were having on bees. Research published since then clearly shows how neonicotinoids are killing bees or changing their behaviors. Gulley Greenhouse is a neonicotinoid-free growing operation and we have switched to using more and more biological pest control.
Plants that Attract Butterflies
Queen Anne’s lace
Plants that Attract Butterfly Larvae (Caterpillars)
Queen Anne’s Lace
Plants that Attract Hummingbirds
Coral bells (heuchera)
Four o’ clocks
Red Birds in a Tree (Scrophularia Macrantha)
Annuals and Perennials that Attract Bees
Trees, Shrubs and Fruit that Attract Bees