Pollinators are an important part of any garden as they play a critical role in the reproduction of the vast majority of flowering plants. Without these helpful little critters many plants would be unsuccessful in producing fruits and seeds for the next generation of plants. Building a pollinator friendly garden can help all of your plants thrive. In addition to attracting many wonderful pollinators, such as hummingbirds and butterflies, pollinator friendly gardens are full of beautiful fragrant flowers.
BUILDING A POLLINATOR GARDEN
The main aspects of a pollinator garden are sources of nutrition, shelter and water for the pollinators. It is important to plant a diversity of plants that feature different colors, fragrances, heights and bloom in different seasons to provide nectar all season. Variety helps to attract all sorts of pollinators to the garden. That being said, we recommend planting a variety of plants with multiples of each variety to facilitate efficient pollination. Keep in mind that local pollinators tend to prefer native plants.
Be sure to plant plants that are necessary for the larval stages of pollinators as well. For example, milkweed is the only source of food for larval monarch and is a wonderfully fragrant addition to a pollinator garden. Don’t forget herbs too! Fragrant herbs, such as lavender, also attract pollinators.
Heather is another wonderful plant to have in a pollinator garden.
CREATE THE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT
Layered canopies of different types and sizes of shrubs and trees provide shelter for a variety of pollinators. You can also make specific homes for pollinators by building bee condos and bird/bat houses. Butterflies like warm sunny spots to rest and warm their wings. A couple of flat stones placed in warm spots around the garden are perfect for this.
The final key structural part of a pollinator garden is reliable access to clean water. It is important to note that a stagnant water source breeds mosquitoes. If you don’t have a natural water source you can put a bowl, planter bottom, saucer, or bird bath in your garden. Keep in mind bees and some other pollinators can not swim so place a variety of sizes or rocks in your dish (wine corks can also be used as they float and make a nice landing spot). This creates a safe shallow area with high spots they can land on, this allows pollinators to approach the water without the risk of drowning.