Recent studies show that our main pollinators, the honeybees, are disappearing. However, encouraging visits by wild pollinators instead of relying solely on honeybees, could be the answer to saving our food supply, and the honeybees. Learn more here.
What's the best way to invite wild pollinators to safely visit our gardens, fields, and food crops? The most effective options are to reduce or limit chemical pesticides and fungicides, and to introduce plants around, and near, food crops which native pollinators love.
Here's a list of tips, as well as plants, to try:
1. Grow plants native to your area. Native plants are four times more attractive to wild pollinators than exotic flowers, probably because native plants are both familiar, and have developed in symbiosis, to the surrounding wildlife. Native plants also tend to be well adapted to local growing conditions and can thrive with minimum attention. Heirloom varieties of herbs and perennials are another good choice. Planting a wide variety will contribute to maintaining genetic diversity in our ecosystem, improving the health of our environment, as well as providing a richer diet for wild pollinators. Visit here to find out which plants are native to your area.
2. Pollinators use color vision to help them find their preferred flowers. Popular colors include blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow. Plant one color of flower in a large clump, versus spreading them across your garden. This also creates more visual appeal for human visitors.
3. Plant a variety of flowering plants. Each of the four thousand different species of bees in North America are of different sizes, with different tongue lengths, and will feed on differently shaped flowers. Increased variety means opportunity for greater numbers of pollinators.
4. Plant in a sunny spot, away from strong winds.
5. Plantings will vary some state by state, but some of the native plants wild pollinators love include:
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
Creosote bush Larrea
Joe-pye weed Eupatorium
Oregon grape Berberis
Purple coneflower Echinacea
Wild buckwheat Eriogonum
6. Finally, some vegetable garden plants attractive to wild pollinators are:
English lavender Lavandula
Giant hyssop Agastache
Globe thistle Echinops
Planting for wild pollinators is one way we can help ensure our natural agricultural partners continue to thrive. It also provides beauty, rich scents, and the pleasure of watching these busy farmers at work. Happy gardening!