Supporting native plants and making small shifts to create a more eco-friendly garden is something we can all do. We’ve put together some tips that will help transform your garden or landscape into a supportive environment to help bird and insect pollinators this year.
As long as humans need food, we will need pollinators. Insects and birds help plants flower and fruit. Without them, we would have fewer foods to eat and a drab environment. Many creatures from ants to wasps accidentally spread pollen, which fertilizes plants. But the main pollinators in North America are honey bees, wild bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Their bodies accumulate and shed pollen as they travel from flower to flower searching for nectar.
So, how can we support these tiny workers and other insects that help make our world fruitful? Here are five tips for helping bird and insect pollinators.
Creating a Landscape That Supports Pollinators
Landscape With Plants Native to Your Area & Ecosystem.
There is no magic list of perfect pollinator-friendly plants because the magic varies from environment to environment. Trees, shrubs, flowers, and herbs that grow naturally in your area play an important role in the overall ecosystem, including providing food for the pollinating insects that live there. Creating a border of native plants around a vegetable or flower garden is especially effective. Most garden centers provide a section of native plants, ask a knowledgeable gardener for recommendations if you’re not sure which plants are indigenous to your region.
Complement With Variety
A bountiful garden full of different colors, scents, and shapes will attract the widest variety of pollinators. While native plants should be used as the backbone of the landscape, they don’t always provide a wide range of color or visual interest. Colorful annual and perennial plants add those pops of interest that people and pollinators enjoy. Be sure to match plantings that have the same water, soil, and sunlight requirements.
Butterflies and hummingbirds need safe places to rest, get out of the rain, or perch when predators are nearby. So, consider planting some shrubs near your flowerbeds.
Make Peace With Imperfection & Avoid Pesticides and Herbicides
Eliminating pesticide & herbicide use in the landscape is vital to helping pollinators. Pesticides attack insects we don't want in our gardens. The problem is that many of these substances also harm beneficial creatures, including pollinators. Add plants that attract insects that help with pest control instead. If you must apply pesticide, look for products made from natural ingredients, and use them sparingly. Plant damage is going to occur in places where pollinators flourish, especially plants that provide habitat for moth and butterfly larvae.
If you have a spot where you have planted lots of flowers appealing to butterflies and moths (mostly nighttime pollinators), try to leave a small brush pile nearby. When it's cold or rainy, they take cover there.
Grow Lots of Flowers
Planting plentiful flowers of different types and colors creates a pollinator café. Due to their long beaks, hummingbirds love deep, tubular flowers. Bees and butterflies prefer more open blossoms on which they can perch easily. Flies, many of which are fine pollinators, prefer flowers that are pretty but smell unpleasant.
Seek lists of plants, some native, some not, that are particularly appealing to local pollinators. University extension services, botanic gardens, city governments, and national wildlife organizations such as the Xerces Society and the Pollinator Partnership are good sources.
Other Insects and Small Wildlife are Welcome
Welcoming other types of small wildlife into the landscape helps create the type of mini-ecosystem where pollinators thrive. Turn broken pottery on its side to become a shelter for reptiles, including a birdbath, and/or place shallow dishes throughout the garden to provide clean water for pollinators and other small animals.
For more outdoor and home tips, explore the rest of the Home Channel TV Blog!