Tips to Attract Helpful Pollinators in Your Yard
When planning and starting the ideal summer garden, even beginner gardeners know the basic necessities: sunlight, water, and healthy soil. If you genuinely want your garden to flourish, you should plant a variety and proper mixture of plants, too. One of the best ways to attract pollinators to your garden is to grow diverse flowers and flowering plants.
The best backyards and gardens contain plants that attract beneficial pollinators like bees, butterflies, and birds. These handy little helpers will keep things growing and flourishing all season long.
However, figuring out the proper balance can be tricky. To remove some of the mystery, we will share our top tips for attracting helpful pollinators to your backyard pollinator garden and pollinator friendly yards this summer. If you live in an apartment or have a small yard, you can create a beautiful pollinator garden with a raised garden bed on wheels or, in containers, a window garden.
Identify Your Local Pollinators
One of the best things you should do is understand and learn who your local pollinators are. Then, it will be much easier to figure out how to attract them. The easiest pollinators to identify are the ones you already know: butterflies, mason bees, honeybees, leafcutting bees, bumblebees, and hummingbirds.
Something to remember: Other pollinators are a sign of a healthy garden, like wasps, moths, flies, beetles, and ants – grow a sustainable garden using eco-friendly methods.
Learn How Different Plant Types Are Pollinated
You can learn how pollinating works once you've identified and become familiar with your pollinators. If that sounds like too much work for your summer plans, you don't have to do a lot of reading. You can learn simply by observing your stunning garden while drinking coffee.
When I see an insect I have never seen, I enjoy using an app like iNaturalist to ID the animal or insect and learn a bit about it. I recently spotted a slightly huge wasp in my garden. As it turns out, it was something called a Giant Red Hornet, and I overcame my fear to watch it take care of my plants and land in my pool to drink water. The more I learn, the more fascinated I want to know.
It's All About the Right Seasonal Balance To Attract Pollinators
While your current focus might be on your summer garden, growing a mix of plants that will grow from spring to fall is essential. This way, your garden will provide a constant and reliable supply of nectar and pollen. This mix will depend heavily on your geological location, so visit your local nursery or garden center for ideas.
North American native plants, including popular perennials like coneflowers, milkweed, lupines, and asters, are preferred by North American native pollinators like bumblebees and butterflies. We suggest you include as many native plants as possible for your local pollinators.
How To Attract Pollinators: Vary Your Flower Shapes and Colors
As a gardener, I also consider how flower shape plays a role in which pollinators I attract to my garden. Providing water for pollinators is also essential; using bird baths,
For example, showy petals, flat landing pads, or tubular blossoms will be attractive to different pollinators. Botanical Interests offers a wide assortment of organic and heirloom seeds. Make sure your garden boasts various flower shapes; ideally, you want some of each type blooming simultaneously.
Plus, always aim to include as many native plants as possible for pollinators.
How To Attract Pollinators: Provide Suitable Water Source
Filling your bird bath with stones or marbles is an easy way to provide bees with water. If you already have bird baths, you can make them attractive to bees by adding these additional landing spots. You may discover that you need two bird baths! In our experience, we've noticed bees prefer some dirty water with some plant growth.
Avoid Using Pesticides In Your Pollinator Garden
Of course, we can't stress this enough: if you're trying to attract specific bugs and their mates, use pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides because they will only have the opposite effect. Instead, we recommend looking into natural ways to discourage unwanted visitors. Avoid invasives on your region's species of concern lists and minimize wind-pollinated plants. Instead, use organic pesticides instead of traditional chemicals.
You can also focus on creating healthy soil with various perennials, encouraging beneficial pollinators, and discouraging unwanted pests. Another excellent option is to plant items with specific scents.
For instance, plants with minty or fragrant foliage can actually deter pests. Plants like lavender, catmint, thyme, sage, borage, and hyssop are suitable choices; they serve a dual purpose as fragrant but have abundant blooms to attract wanted pollinators. Pollinators are attracted to bright colors and strong scents, so consider planting flowers like sunflowers, lavender, and marigolds. Additionally, providing a water source, such as a birdbath or small pond, can attract pollinators.
Attract Pollinators: Don't Panic at the Site Of Nibbled Leaves
Amateur gardeners often notice holes in plant leaves and assume that's a sign of a dreadful infestation; this is far from true. It's quite the opposite! It's always a huge positive to have various bugs in your garden.
A nibbled garden suggests support for your local ecosystem. Leafcutter Bees cut perfectly round pieces of leaves, unlike pests. Like mason bees, leafcutter bees are only active for 4-6 weeks but are excellent pollinators. They are solitary, gentle bees and only sting if you provoke them. Embrace bare soil, munching on leaves, and the wild side of gardening, and relax; rest assured that your front and backyard are alive and thriving.
Finally, consider leaving some areas of your garden untouched or un-mowed to provide nesting sites for pollinators like bees and butterflies. Avoid using pesticides or insecticides as they can be harmful to pollinators. These tips can help support your local pollinator population and ensure a healthy ecosystem.