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Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, and many other insects act as pollinators. Without them, we would be in a pretty dire situation. Pollinators are involved in one out of every three bites of food we take, and they are essential in maintaining a balanced ecosystem.
It is said that between 75% and 95% of all plants need help with pollination, which is where our pollinator friends come in. These little creatures help pollinate plants by transferring pollen from one flower to another while they are busy drinking nectar and collecting a little pollen for themselves.
There are things that we can do to assist the pollinators, help the environment, and provide ourselves with a simply gorgeous backyard or porch. Planting pollinator-attracting flowers in your garden or pots on a porch can provide these essential critters with much-needed food and pollination fodder.
How to Attract Hummingbirds
Source: Stephen Bahr/Youtube
The sunning and entertaining hummingbirds are especially attracted to red and orange flowers. It is important to try to plant native flowers as the local hummingbirds will be familiar with them. Try also to plant flowers that have a long flowering window so that the hummingbirds will have a continued food source and will keep coming back to your garden throughout the season.
- Bee Balm (Monarda)– This is a gorgeous perennial flower that is usually in the pink to red spectrum. The flowers grow atop long stalks and are incredibly fragrant. Bee balm is a member of the mint family and shares its reputation for spreading by runners underground. It grows well from cuttings and can easily be split at the root system and replanted. Plant your bee balm in a sunny spot and be prepared for it to spread. The hummingbirds with thank you for it.
- Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)– The cardinal flower, like the bird, has bright red blooms that hummingbirds love. The flowers are tube-like, making them difficult to master for some pollinators. Not for the hummingbird, though, with its perfectly shaped beak. These tall perennial flowers can be found growing wild but are fairly simple to grow yourself. Plant your seedlings in a place that gets morning sun and a little afternoon shade. They need to be kept moist until they are well established.
How to Attract Bees
Flowers with a single ring of petals are thought to be more beneficial for bees. These types of flowers make it easier for the bees to find the nectar and pollen, and there is more of it. Remember that bees are partial to blue and purple flowers especially. Planting your flowers in blocks provides a swath of flowers for the bees to dart around amongst. You might also think about planting flowers that bloom at different times of the year to give the bees a longer window for foraging.
- Echinacea– This is another perennial plant that will keep both you and the bees happy. These are pretty hardy plants that are deer resistant and can tolerate drought once they are mature. They need a sunny spot and can get to around 2 feet tall, depending on the type you plant. These flowers self-seed readily and can be divided at the root.
- Aster– The aster is in the daisy family and is a favorite of bees. There are many different varieties, but they tend to be white, blue, and purple. One benefit of these flowers is that they bloom rather late in the season and offer a tail-end-of-the-season supply of nectar. They produce many flowers per plant and, depending on the variety you choose, get quite tall.
How to Attract Butterflies
Source: The Butterfly Farmer/Youtube
Native butterflies are much more likely to be attracted to a garden full of native flowers. Butterflies tend to be attracted to red, orange, pink, yellow, and purple flowers. Choose flowers that are open and flat and have short nectar tubes. Butterflies tend to hunt for nectar in the sun, so select flowers that are suitable for full-sun planting. Specific plants will attract specific butterflies as their caterpillars will only eat certain leaves.
- Parsley, Dill, and Fennel– These plants are essential for the black swallowtail butterfly. Planting these herbs in your garden will not only give you some plants to nibble on, but you can share them with the larvae of this stunning butterfly.
- Milk Weed– The mighty monarch butterfly will be on the lookout for milkweed to lay its egg on. Milkweed is the only plant that its caterpillars eat. Milkweed comes in many different varieties but is on the decline due to land development. You can plant milkweed from seed, but be sure to plant enough as one caterpillar can munch through 20 leaves!
- Petition: Support Saving America’s Pollinators Act
- 10 Ways to Save Pollinators and Protect Our Food Supply
- New Film, The Pollinators, Tells us Why Bees Determine the Future of Human Survival
- Pollinators and Other Insect Populations Have Dropped 75% in the Past 25 Years – Here’s How You Can Help
- United Nations Launches Dire Plea to Save Bees and Other Pollinators
- The Best Pollinators and How You Can Help Them With One Simple Step
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