Plant a flower and they'll come - the pollinators, that is. Nature's insect pollinators include butterflies, honeybees, bumblebees and beetles. These busy insects visit blossoms, harvesting nectar and pollinating on the side.
Create your own pollinator-friendly garden by following four simple steps:
Plant Nectar-Rich Flowers
My cottage garden is always alive with pollinators. In spring they visit daffodils, tulips, forget-me-nots and brunneras.
Summer explodes with color, including raspberry-red bee balm, purple Russian sage, orange turk's cap lily and yellow coreopsis. Fall's floral fireworks include white aster, purple coneflower and goldenrod.
To design a garden that lures pollinators:
- Choose plants that provide colorful, nectar-rich blossoms in every season.
- Arrange flowers in drifts to help nearsighted pollinators spot them.
- Include different bloom colors. Butterflies prefer red and purple tones; bees like yellow, blue, purple and white.
Grow Native Plants
Anise hyssop is my favorite pollinator-friendly native plant.
I tuck it into the vegetable garden to help lure bees to edible crops. Other native plants that thrive in the Mid-Atlantic include Joe-Pye weed, goldenrod, purple coneflower, liatris and yarrow.
Protect pollinators, including honeybees, by eliminating or limiting pesticide use.
If you must use a pesticide, choose the least toxic, and apply it when bees aren't active - very early morning, late evening or after dark.
Make Room for Babies
Learn how pollinators reproduce; then provide the appropriate habitat. Grow plants that caterpillars (butterfly larvae) munch.
Include nesting sites for bees such as leaf litter or brush piles. Many native bees nest in the ground. Leave areas of bare soil (no mulch) so bees can burrow.
Creating a pollinator-friendly garden is rewarding and fun.
See more Mid-Atlantic Gardening Articles.