Five Tips For Pollinator Garden Success. Growing a pollinator garden encourages and supports the drastically declining wild and domestic populations of pollinators. Attracting bees, butterflies and birds is a fun and important project. These five tips will help you encourage pollinators in your own backyard garden.
Dave and I noticed several years ago our local pollinators were struggling. We live in a large rural wooded and fielded area. Our property is large with diverse natural, domestic and planted landscaped areas. Pollinator heaven, you would think! We decided we needed to support the bees.
Join us this week for another Tuesday In The Garden Blog Hop! Our theme for this hop is Garden tips! At the bottom of this post you will find links to all the other contributors for this blog hop. I know you will enjoy visiting each of these gardeners blogs.
Helping our Pollinators
Do you love colorful flowers in your yard or patio? Is companion planting with flowers something you want to try in your veggie garden or greenhouse? Pollinators are here to help make your fruits and veggies abundant. Bees, butterflies and birds of all sorts will busily pollinate your flowering trees, plants, herbs and bushes from early spring to late Fall until the cold forces them into hibernation.
Watch as bees of many varieties ATTACK our late blooming False Aralia bush in this quick video. This is November 10th on a warm day. I was amazed by this frenzy of activity outside my living room window.
Bees of all sorts are dying off
That’s a big part of the reason we went organic in our garden, yard and property management. I also began feeding the hummingbirds in early spring. Next, I may start bird feeders and nests for the Mason bees. All of our beneficial garden friends need our support. Butterflies require particular plants to draw and support their populations. Please check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for more local information.
The commercial honey bee population is in serious trouble. Our commercial hive populations are now down about 50 percent in the U.S.. Other pollinators are also declining. Some of the wild populations of bees and butterflies like the Mason and Bumble bees and Monarch Butterfly are dwindling dangerously. The Rusty Mason Bee is now on the endangered species list.
In very early spring through late Fall various bees need to feed
Organic potted flowers on a patio or balcony provide nectar. A shallow bowl of water will help sustain those tiny travelers. Bulbs, like Hyacinths, smell wonderful, draw the bees, and look pretty too! Plant flowers, trees and bushes in your yard that provide continual bloom throughout the year.
Bees love purple, blue and yellow flowers making them great color choices for a pollinator garden. Even a pot of pansies is a bright spot of color that adorns the bleakness of cold dreary days and supports early spring bees.
Dandelions and other spring blooming weeds are also important to pollinators. Please do NOT spray these pesky early weeds with toxins. The pollinators are highly attracted to them! Dandelions are healthy for us too! Make them into a Spring Green Smoothie!
Without pollinators to pollinate our food crops and the food of our meat producing animals, humans are in trouble. The diversity of our world’s plant life would severely falter without pollinated plants. Our world would lose untold flowering plants that provide pharmaceutical medicines, culinary flavors and beautification of our world. Pollinators provide one in three bites of our food. Losing these vital living resources that our food supply relies on would be very sad indeed.
Home gardeners can make a positive difference and enjoy our favorite hobby. Get the kids involved!
Gardening of all types is a wonderful family project. Pollinator gardens provide talking points to help children appreciate the place pollinators have in our world. This science project is highly rewarding for everyone. Pollinator gardens are lovely and useful.
Teach kids about their natural world. Help them learn about the ecosystem they will inherit and must protect.
Encouraging Pollinators in your Garden:
Find your U.S.D.A. Garden zone and look for pollinator attracting plants for your local climate. Encouraging wild populations of butterflies, bees and birds is so important. Plant native plants that the pollinators need along with your other garden choices. This will help the pollinators complete their lifecycles.
Companion Planting with Pollinator attracting flowers
Use flowers and herbs in your garden to draw bees and pollinate your flowering veggies, like tomatoes and peppers.
Our greenhouse beds (Pictured above) have nasturtiums, lobelia and marigolds growing in the tomato and pepper beds. These companion plants draw the aphids to themselves. They also attract numerous varieties of bees to our tomatoes and peppers.
Pollinate the veggies and feed the bees. Win win! Bees love the purples and orangey yellows. We love not having to spray our tomatoes with ‘Set On’ or hand shake the bushes as we did a few years ago.
Getting off to a good start:
- For best diversity and support of pollinators find out which plants your local pollinators prefer and grow them!
- Grow non invasive flowering plants for your own sake. Many herbs (like mint and Oregano) are highly invasive and will quickly overtake other plants. If you really love these flowering herbs, (the bees sure do) try planting invasive species in containers. We have so much room on this property, we just let them go and weed out the extras.
- Provide a water source your pollinators can easily access without drowning. Our pond has wet moss in the shallows that is always full of thirsty bees. Deep pools of water often drown bees. Bees need constant access to a very shallow water source. A wet mossy edge on a water feature in your yard or garden can provide that.
- Go organic! Scientists know at least part of the bee decline is due to incorrect and overuse of home garden chemicals such as neonicotinoids herbicides like Roundup. Bee colonies now have this systemic toxin in their honey and hives. That means we are eating it too when we enjoy the natural sweeteners they produce. Let’s clean up our yards!
5 Tips for Pollinator Garden Success:
Here is a pinnable image for you that Summarizes the five tips offered in this post.
The Five Tips For Pollinator Garden Success:
- Ask your local nursery and food co-ops for organic herb and vegetable seeds and starts. The treated seeds and starts we pick up from our local stores and nurseries are often treated with harmful systemic chemicals that are a known contributor to bee decline.
- Situate your pollinator garden in a sunny area with windbreaks for protection. Place a good water source for the pollinators nearby. This provides access and protection to the bees and offers them a drink to keep going.
- Group colorful “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants. Pollinators travel long distances, up to twelve miles a day for bees. Draw them to your yard with large colorful plantings.
- Create a continuous bloom cycle throughout the growing season. From early spring to late Fall with flowering bushes, perennials and annuals. Plant varieties of annuals, bushes and perennials that bloom early (Forsythia, tulips,Lilac,Pieris,early rhododendrons). In the high summer months (roses, viburnums, Day lily, peony, butterfly bush). And late bloomers to support fall pollinators (false Aralia, mums, dahlia, gardenia).
- Provide nesting habitat for wild Bee and bird populations. For example: Mason Bees pollinate even more efficiently than honey bees, are easy to manage and rarely sting. Mason bees are easy to support with nesting boxes. They do not use hives. For more information on Mason bees visit This site .
At the bottom of this post are links with more information on the pollinator issues. Please get informed and help save your food supply. We need pollinators, and right now they need our help.
Please Click on each of our contributor links below and enjoy blog ‘Garden talks’ and inspiration from our knowledgeable Tuesday In the Garden participants. Happy Gardening!
Check out these links for more info on Pollinators:
A site devoted to promoting pollinators- MillionPollinatorGardens.org
Find Plants suggested for Pollinators listed here- http://www.sunset.com
More info on attracting Beneficial Bees- http://www.gardeners.com
All sort of info on various conservation issues including pollinator resources- The Xerces Society