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Attracting Pollinators to Your Yard

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.

GO ORGANIC

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!

PROVIDE SHELTER

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

Alyssum
Aster
Bee balm
Butterfly bush
Calendula
Cosmos
Daylily
Delphinium
Dianthus
Fennel
Globe thistle
Goldenrod
Hollyhock
Lavender
Liatris

Marigold
Milkweed
Musk mallow
Nasturtium
Oregano
Phlox
Purple coneflower
Queen Anne’s lace
Sage
Scabiosa
Shasta daisy
Stonecrop
Verbena
Yarrow
Zinnia

Add milkweed to your garden to attract the endangered Monarch Butterfly.

Plants that Attract Butterfly Larvae (Caterpillars)

Borage
Fennel
Grasses
Hollyhocks
Lupine

Milkweed
Nettle
Queen Anne’s Lace
Thistle
Willow

Add plants that not only attract butterflies because of their nectar but also plants that the young caterpillars can eat from.

Plants that Attract Hummingbirds

Abutilon
Ajuga
Bee balm
Begonia
Bleeding heart
Butterfly weed
Canna
Cardinal flower
Century plant
Columbine
Coral bells (heuchera)
Cleome
Dahlia
Dame’s rocket
Delphinium
Fire pink
Four o’ clocks
Foxglove
Fuchsia
Gilia
Geranium
Gladiolus
Glossy abelia
Hyssop

Hollyhocks
Impatiens
Iris
Kniphofia
Lantana
Liatris
Lily
Lupine
Nasturtium
Nicotiana
Penstemon
Petunia
Phlox
Red Birds in a Tree (Scrophularia Macrantha)
Sage
Salvia
Scabiosa
Scarlet sage
Sweet William
Verbena
Vermillion Bluffs
Yucca
Zinnia

Adding plants like salvia to your yard will attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Annuals and Perennials that Attract Bees

Allium
Aster
Basil
Bee balm
Bee plant
Bergamot
Blanket flower
Borage
Cosmos
Flax
Four o’clock
Gaillardia
Geranium
Giant hyssop
Globe thistle
Goldenrod
Helianthus
Hyssop

Joe-pye weed
Lavender
Lupine
Marjoram
Mint
Mullein
Poppy
Rosemary
Russian Sage
Sage
Skullcap
Sunflower
Thyme
Verbena
Wallflower
Wild rose
Zinnia

Adding flowers that attract bees will not only help their dwindling population but will help to pollinate your flowers and veggies as well!

Trees, Shrubs and Fruit that Attract Bees

Almond
Apple
Blackcurrant
Cherry
Gooseberry
Hawthorn
Linden

Locust
Pear
Plum
Raspberry
Strawberry
Wild lilac
Willow

Trees and shrubs will help to bring pollinators to your yard as well during their bloom period.

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