It’s time to celebrate all that pollinators do for gardeners by doing all we can for pollinators.
Insect pollinators, like honey bees and butterflies, do much of the important work in our gardens. They fertilize plants by feeding on or walking through flowers, moving pollen from one part of the plant to another.
It’s estimated that 80 percent of plant fertilization depends on pollinators. Without their help we wouldn’t have much in the way of the fine fruits and vegetables we grow in our gardens.
Pollinators need our help to stay healthy and active. Are the bees buzzing, butterflies floating, and hummingbirds darting from flower to flower in your garden? Whether on a tiny balcony, small patio or large backyard garden, you need to encourage activity by planting flowers that provide nectar and pollen all season, from early spring to first frost.
The swallowtail in the picture landed on a small pot of zinnias I planted on my patio last summer. A few seeds and a little water is all it takes.
There are many delicious plants you can add to your garden to attract pollinators. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) The showy lavender blooms of Wild Bergamot (bee balm) grow on tall stems and serve as a blooming magnet for bees and butterflies. A member of the mint family, the native Monarda is a perennial wildflower that grows 4 feet tall and is adaptable to all kinds of garden soils and conditions.
Dwarf English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Bees love the dark lavender, fragrant flowers of this dwarf English Lavender. A versatile perennial, this form grows 12-15 inches tall and looks good planted along borders or mixed into cottage or formal gardens. Lavender enjoys a well-drained soil and requires only occasional watering once established. Hardy to Zone 5.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) Butterflies are attracted to the nectar of this variety of milkweed. The plant also serves as food for the caterpillars of Monarch butterflies. Butterfly weed is a native perennial that grows in clumps 1-3 feet tall and forms clusters of long-blooming orange flowers. It prefers a sunny location with well-drained soil.
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris) A reliable perennial with a licorice scent, the Sunset Hyssop attracts hummingbirds and butterflies alike. Its orange tube-shaped flowers begin blooming in mid-summer and continue late into fall. The plant grows to 2 feet tall with an upright habit and finely textured foliage. Sunset Hyssop enjoys both full sun to part shade, is adaptable to a variety of soils, and requires moderate to low amounts of water.
Blanketflower (Gaillardia aristata) Bees and butterflies are drawn to this colorful native perennial with its brilliant red flowers edged in yellow. ‘Arizona Sun’ is an especially nice selection because it blooms earlier than most. A dry-soil lover, blanketflower can grow to 2 feet tall and blooms from May into September. The large blooms make a long-lasting cut flower, too.
Please stop by all this week to learn more about how you can help pollinators — and how they can help you bee a better gardener.