Pollinators are vital to the production of fruits and veggies, but it’s not just your cultivated crops that benefit from attracting pollinators to your yard and garden. Without them, we would likely suffer a dramatic food shortage worldwide as they are responsible for pollinating 90 percent of the earth’s flowering plants, which in turn supports life on the planet, explains Growing a Greener World.
Doing your part to attract pollinators to your yard and garden will increase production in your garden while helping out the environment, too.
Follow these tips for attracting pollinators to your yard and garden.
Grow Native Plants
Native plants have already established themselves as the ideal source of pollen and nectar for the pollinators in your area. This makes them the perfect plants for attracting pollinators to your yard and garden. You can purchase native plants at home improvement stores and nurseries, but they are also readily available in your location. Allowing native plants to grow and thrive on your property is an excellent way to attract pollinators.
This may include plants that you consider weeds, such as goldenrod, burdocks and thistles, but they are all beautiful in their own right. Creating a native plant garden, or adding them to your flowerbed goes a long way to providing bees and butterflies the pollen and nectar they need. Native wildflowers like coneflowers, rudbeckia and asters all make delightful additions to a flowerbed.
You can dig up and transplant native plants on your property, or seek them along roadsides or abandoned property, but be aware that you must seek the landowner’s permission before helping yourself to native plants growing wild on their property. Sometimes, building sites where the plants will likely be destroyed are a good option of finding free native plants. Always seek permission from the construction crew and / or landowners before digging up native plants.
Plant Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens
Cultivating a flowerbed specifically for hummingbirds and butterflies is another terrific option for attracting pollinators to the garden. Hummingbirds prefer bell or trumpet shaped flowers like lilies and morning glories, while butterflies prefer daisy-like flowers with a flat surface where they can land easily.
Incorporating flowers known to attract hummingbirds and butterflies into your landscape will keep the garden alive with color and movement while enticing pollinators to frequent your garden. Follow these tips for attracting pollinators to your flowerbeds.
- Plant flowers that bloom at different times, so some flowers are always in bloom.
- Plant flowers in clusters to attract more bees and butterflies.
- Plant flowers in different shapes and colors to attract a variety of pollinators.
Hang Hummingbird and Butterfly Feeders
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Providing hummingbirds and butterflies with supplemental food prevents them from searching elsewhere if their preferred flowers are not in bloom. You can purchase hummingbird and butterfly feeders at your local home improvement center for a few dollars. You will need to commit to cleaning and refilling the feeders throughout the summer, but the benefits far outweigh the effort required.
Install Bee and Butterfly Houses
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Providing bees and other flying insects with a place to hide and breed is a great way to keep pollinators in your yard. While you can buy bee and butterfly houses, they are not necessary. Natural logs, twigs and mossy rocks will provide shelter and nesting areas for pollinators. Leaving small brush piles or old logs around the property will go a long way towards providing the shelter pollinators need.
Let the Dandelions Bloom
If you are like most people, you may view dandelions as a nuisance that ruins the appearance of your lawn, but that’s not what the bee sees. Dandelion blooms are one of the earliest sources of pollen and nectar in the spring. Allowing dandelions to flourish and bloom will give natural pollinators in your area the energy they need to survive the cold spring until other flowers are in bloom. If you can’t bring yourself to let dandelions take over the entire lawn, designate a section along fences or around the border where dandelions, and hungry bees, can have free rein.
Plant Flowers Near the Veggie Garden
One of the best ways to invite pollinators to your veggie garden is with a border or row of blooming flowers. While you can plant nearly any flower near the garden some will serve double duty. Flowers like marigolds and nasturtiums will attract bees and other pollinators while repelling harmful insects at the same time.
Many prefer to plant flowers at the ends of rows or create an attractive border around the entire garden. Consider adding a fence behind the garden and plant free-flowing flowers like cosmos, sunflowers or zinnias to brighten the area and attract pollinators, too.
You may be tempted to use pesticides in the garden to get rid of insect pests, but pesticides do more than kill off harmful insects. Pesticides will kill off your pollinators, too. Try other methods of pest control instead of resorting to harmful chemicals whenever possible.
- Handpick insect pests from the plants and drop them into a bucket of soapy water to drown them. Alternately, hold the bucket of soapy water under the branches of your plants and shake the insects into the bucket.
- Spray offending insects with a mixture of water, oil and dish detergent. To make this simple insecticide soap, mix one quart of water, 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil and 2 teaspoons of mild dish detergent or Castile soap together. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture and shake gently. Spray the homemade insecticide directly on insect pests. The dish detergent helps disperse the soil making it mix with the water. When sprayed on insects the oil clings to their body blocking their breathing pores.
- Plant marigolds, nasturtiums, chrysanthemums, garlic, chives and other strongly scented herbs near or in the vegetable garden to repel harmful insects.
Honeybees have a reputation as garden pollinators, but they aren’t the only pollinators in the yard. Common pollinators include a wide range of insects like beetles, moths and butterflies, as well as hummingbirds and bats. Attracting and keeping pollinators in your yard and garden will improve fruit production in your yard and garden while helping nature keep her delicate balance as well.