9 Ways to Plant for Pollinators

Surely you’ve heard in the news about our disappearing bees. But other pollinators need our help as well: butterflies, bats, beetles and birds all contribute to the delicate pollination cycle that grows our gardens and our food. You may wonder what you, as an individual, can do to help these critters. We asked Gretchen Heine, founder and executive director of Pollination Planet, what people can do to help out these vital insects and animals, and she says that planting is a great step.

“Planting for pollinators in your own yard provides important habitat. We stand to lose 30 percent of our food supply, including blueberries, apples, almonds, chocolate and coffee, if we lose pollinators; so creating habitat is critical to their survival,” she says. Planting for pollinators means as well that you’re planting for native plants that thrive in your area, and it means beautiful flowers all summer long. “A pollinator garden will attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, creating an aesthetically pleasing landscape for people to enjoy. It also is a visual reminder that you are making a positive difference for pollinators,” Heine says.

Here are 9 tips for planting for pollinators. And remember, even a few container plants on a deck can benefit pollinators.

9 Tips for Planting for Pollinators

  1. No chemicals: pesticides and herbicides kill bees and other pollinators.
  2. Plant big patches of pollinator-friendly plants.
  3. Choose plants that bloom throughout the growing season.
  4. Butterflies prefer red, purple or yellow flowers with sweet scents.
  5. It’s thought that hummingbirds prefer red-colored flowers; however, they will feed on any flower that produces nectar.
  6. Pollinators are best adapted to local, native plants, which often need less water than ornamentals.
  7. Butterflies favor platform-shaped sunflowers and asters but will feed on a variety of nectar-rich flowers, from violets to serviceberry shrubs.
  8. To attract hummingbirds to your garden, provide them with nectar, starting in early spring.
  9. It takes time for native plants to grow and for pollinators to find your garden, especially if you live far from wildlands; so be patient.

—Sourced from the US Forest Service

Pollination is a vital stage in the life cycle of all flowering plants. It occurs when pollen is moved from one flower to another. About 75 percent of all flowering plant species rely on animals, like bees, to help distribute the pollen among them.

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