Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants.
Virtually all of the world’s seed plants need to be pollinated. This is just as true for cone-bearing plants, such as pine trees, as for the more colorful and familiar flowering plants. Pollen, looking like insignificant yellow dust, bears a plant’s male cells and is a vital link in the reproductive cycle.
Careful planning is essential to creating a successful pollinator garden. Follow these easy steps to make sure you have everything covered before you make your investment.
- Location: Butterflies and other pollinators like to bask in the sun and some of their favorite wildflowers grow best in full or partial sun with some protection from the wind.
- Soil type: Your soil type and the amount of sunlight it gets will help determine the kinds of plants you can grow.
- Native Plants: These are the ideal choice because they require less maintenance and tend to be heartier. You’ll also want to focus on selecting perennials to ensure your plants come back each year and don’t require a lot of maintenance.
- Seeds vs. plants: Seeds are more economical, especially for larger gardens, but will require more time. If you’re using seeds, plan on dispersing them in the fall or late winter ahead of your summer growing season. This gives the seeds time to germinate. Nursery-started plants cost more, but will generally give you a quick return on your investment and bring pollinators into your yard.
- Food Source: Pollinators need nectar early in the spring, throughout the summer and even into the fall. Choosing plants that bloom at different times will help you create a bright and colorful garden that both you and pollinators will love for months!