Pollinator Gardens!

Maintaining a healthy environment for pollinator insects and other creatures is something you can do to improve the environment for all. Pollinators are required for pollination of most plants and that includes the majority of vegetable crops like the ones you might plant in your backyard vegetable garden. It’s not too soon to start thinking about planting a pollinator garden. The groundhog predicted an early spring so maybe we need to get to work. First, what is a pollinator garden? Well, it is a garden that is intentionally planted to attract bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and other creatures that help pollinate plants. One of the best ways to design such a garden is to focus on planting native plants. The reason is that the native pollinators are mostly attracted by native plants. If you focus on some of the non-native plants that are often what you find at the local sources for annual plants you’ll be disappointed to learn that they may not be attractive to native bees, butterflies and other insects. You’ll find some information in the links below that will help you in your consideration of what and where to plant a pollinator garden. It would be good to include plants that bloom at different times. It’s also good to think about the particular things you want to attract. If you are interested in butterflies then you need to know what plants are the host for the larva of that butterfly, for example, the Monarch butterfly is hosted by milkweed plants.

Another thing to remember is that bees, moths, butterflies and hummingbirds are attracted to color so keep this in mind as you select the plants for your garden.

Bees on a bee balm flower
Bee balm attracts many pollinators, like these bumble bees.
Purple coneflower
Coneflowers are a hardy, native species of wildflower that attract pollinators and birds.

You will also want to not use pesticides on the plants you are hoping to be attractive to insects. Think of this as a chemical free zone.

It can also be helpful to have a water source in the area. This could be a birdbath or other container. Many native bees nest in the ground so it will be important to not disturb the ground after you plant your garden. It’s ok to be a little messy, leave some sticks on the ground and even a hollow log. These can be nesting places for some of the pollinators you attract.

I hope you have fun designing your pollinator garden. Spring is not far away!

Here’s a beautiful video that shows some of the amazing pollinators in action: pollinators in action

If you are hesitant about using Native Plants in your yard you should visit the Mellichamp Native Terrace at the UNCC Botanical Garden for examples of how to use native plants in your home landscape. Here’s a link: gardening with native plants

Attracting pollinators


NC wildflowers

Native Plants