Though birds and butterflies garner the most interest from our customers, bees are also in the news a lot. Many gardeners and homeowners are afraid of bees or other pollinators and will request plants that don’t attract bees. But we are finding that people are getting more and more comfortable sharing their yards with local wildlife and it has become a trend to provide a home for these very important pollinators. Planting native prairie wildflowers provides food and shelter, and has the side benefit of attracting beneficial insects that help naturally control unwanted pests.
Unfortunately, the numbers of both native pollinators and domesticated bee populations are declining. They are threatened by habitat loss, disease, and the excessive and inappropriate use of pesticides.
What can you do to help? Start by planting a variety of plants that will provide nectar and pollen for pollinators throughout the growing season. Resist the urge to have a totally manicured lawn and garden. Leave bare ground for ground nesting bees. Leave areas of dead wood and leaf litter for other insects. Strive to eliminate the use of all pesticides.
Flowers provide nectar (high in sugar and necessary amino acids) and pollen (high in protein) to pollinators. Fermenting fallen fruits also provide food for bees, beetles and butterflies. Specific plants, known as host plants, are eaten by the larvae of pollinators such as butterflies.
Plant in groups to increase pollination efficiency. If a pollinator can visit the same type of flower over and over, it doesn’t have to relearn how to enter the flower and can transfer pollen to the same species, instead of squandering the pollen on unreceptive flowers.
Plant with bloom season in mind, providing food from early spring to late fall.
Plant a diversity of plants to support a variety of pollinators. Flowers of different color, fragrance, and season of bloom on plants of different heights will attract different pollinator species and provide pollen and nectar throughout the seasons.
Many herbs and annuals, although not native, are very good for pollinators. Mint, oregano, garlic, chives, parsley and lavender are just a few herbs that can be planted. Old fashioned zinnias, cosmos, and single sunflowers support bees and butterflies.
All-around good plant choices for pollinators include: Butterfly Weed, Catalpa, Catnip, Clover, Columbine, Coreopsis, Drummond Phlox, Green Milkweed, Impatiens, Irises, Indian Paintbrush, Indian Blanket, Lavender, Morning glory, Penstemon, Passion flowers, Rose, Salvia, Saxifrage, Sorrel, Sunflowers, Texas Bluebells, Texas Bluebonnet, Violet, Winecup, Willow catkins.
Crops include: Almond, Apple, Blackberries, Cucumbers, Figs, Eggplant, Legumes, Watermelon, Squash/ Pumpkins/ Gourds, Tomatoes and Thyme.
Come by today and let us help you to select the perfect plant to Help the Pollinators!