Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Plant a Pollinator Garden

Pollinators (think of bees and butterflies) are essential to harvests—and flowers are their food source. Plant flowers in the garden, among fruit trees, and in containers. Every flower helps. Here are a few tips;

Bees are basically looking for 2 things when they visit your plants:
  1. Nectar - nectar is loaded with sugars and it’s a bee’s main source of energy.
  2. Pollen - pollen provides the balanced diet of proteins and fats.
Many popular flower varieties are hybridized for features that are valued by the gardener, like disease resistance, flower size or color and bigger, longer blooms. Unfortunately much hybridization has reduced the production of nectar and pollen and sometimes leaves the resulting plant completely sterile and useless to bees and other pollinators.

Another factor is that the amount of nectar secreted is dependent of climate conditions such as temperature, humidity and moisture in the soil. Here is a plant list of natives to attract the pollinators to your garden. This list is not exhaustive; there are many other plants good for bees and butterflies.

  • Aster Aster
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Caltrop Kallstroemia
  • Creosote bush Larrea
  • Currant Ribes
  • Elder Sambucus
  • Goldenrod Solidago
  • Huckleberry Vaccinium
  • Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
  • Lupine Lupinus
  • Oregon grape Berberis
  • Penstemon Penstemon
  • Purple coneflower Echinacea
  • Rabbit-brush Chrysothamnus
  • Rhododendron Rhododendron
  • Sage Salvia
  • Scorpion-weed Phacelia
  • Snowberry Symphoricarpos
  • Stonecrop Sedum
  • Sunflower Helianthus
  • Wild buckwheat Eriogonum
  • Wild-lilac Ceanothus
  • Willow Salix
• Plant flowers in clumps at least 4 feet in diameter. Large clusters are more attractive to pollinators.

• A succession of plants that flower from spring until fall will support a wide range of bee species.

• Flowers of different shapes attract different types of pollinators.

• Pesticides are a huge threat to pollinators. Use products that don’t harm pollinators.

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