Pollinators are essential for any ecosystem to function – so essential that we tend to take them for granted. But recently the decline of honeybee and butterfly populations have sent the message loud and clear that our most critical allies in the garden are in peril. Many gardeners have decided to lend their support by stopping use of garden chemicals and planting pollinator gardens.
A good pollinator garden will have several key features:
- Nectary plants in bloom from spring to fall. Your flying feeders need food throughout the growing season and having something around all the time will encourage pollinators to stick around.
- Check out these lists of perennial pollinator plants and woody pollinator plants for spring, summer and fall.
- Use a variety of plants – the more the better! Bees, flies, butterflies, moths and many other kinds of insects all function as pollinators, and serving as many as possible strengthens the biodiversity of your garden ecosystem.
- If there is no water nearby, provide a source. This will also encourage the insect life to stick around.
- Habitat for beneficial insects is also important, especially in winter. Brush piles and old firewood bundles make excellent pollinator hotels – just place them in a spot where they won’t be disturbed by human activity. Also you can delay cutting back dead foliage until spring to make winter shelters for your bugs.
- Avoid the use of pesticides and garden chemicals. When you support pollinators you support the entire ecosystem of insect life, including predator insects that control pests such as aphids, mites and beetles.