From the Garden: Pollinators in the Garden

By Erin Breglia

Spring has sprung, and short­ly so will the gar­den! Once warmer tem­per­a­tures hit, gar­den­ers will instinc­tive­ly want to tidy up the beds, remov­ing fall­en debris and left­over leaf lit­ter. But wait! Sev­er­al ben­e­fi­cial insects have prob­a­bly made their home in the debris, so wait until tem­per­a­tures are con­sis­tent­ly above 50° F in order to con­serve rapid­ly declin­ing pol­li­na­tor species.

What is a pol­li­na­tor’? Pol­li­na­tors are birds, ani­mals, or insects that move pollen from the male anther of one flower to the female stig­ma of anoth­er as they search for nec­tar and pro­tein rich pollen. The pri­ma­ry pol­li­na­tors in our region are bees, but­ter­flies, bee­tles, flies, moths, and birds such as the ruby throat­ed hum­ming­bird.

Why do pol­li­na­tors mat­ter?
It is known that 80% of all flow­er­ing plants rely on pol­li­na­tors for sur­vival, includ­ing those we depend on as sources of fibers, bev­er­ages, spices, med­i­cines, and most impor­tant­ly, food. One out of every three bites of food we eat is made pos­si­ble by a pol­li­na­tor. Some crops, such as apples, blue­ber­ries and cher­ries, are 90% depen­dent on hon­ey­bee pol­li­na­tion. Increased yields and high­er qual­i­ty crops are also ben­e­fits that grow­ers and con­sumers real­ize from a healthy pol­li­na­tor pop­u­la­tion.

How to encour­age and con­serve pol­li­na­tors.
Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the overuse of chem­i­cals, loss of habi­tat, and pol­lu­tants have cre­at­ed a dev­as­tat­ing decline in many pol­li­na­tor species. To reverse this trend many peo­ple are sup­port­ing pol­li­na­tors by cre­at­ing a safe habi­tat for them in the form of small back yard gar­dens. By grow­ing a vari­ety of flow­er­ing plants in large drifts, you can attract many dif­fer­ent pol­li­na­tors. Bees tend to pre­fer flow­ers, such as yel­low dan­de­lions, that they can walk on to sip nec­tar. But­ter­flies and moths need a place to land on the flow­ers that they vis­it, so they pre­fer broad, flat-faced flow­ers. Hav­ing brush piles, wood­piles, and areas of undis­turbed soil near­by will also encour­age pol­li­na­tors to seek refuge and shel­ter in your yard.

Plants that pol­li­na­tors love.
There is a strong cor­re­la­tion between plant diver­si­ty and pol­li­na­tor diver­si­ty. Many plants in the mint and car­rot fam­i­ly pro­duce an abun­dance of nec­tar. Easy to grow plants such as dill, Queen Anne’s lace, rue, and spearmint also pro­vide essen­tial nutri­ents. Native peren­ni­als such as the native bee balm or wild berg­amot (Monar­da fis­tu­losa), but­ter­fly weed (Ascle­pias tuberosa), and cone­flower (Echi­nacea angus­ti­fo­lia) are pol­li­na­tor sta­ples. These flow­er­ing plants will con­tin­ue to attract pol­li­na­tors to your gar­den year after year and need lit­tle maintenance.

Spring 2020

Volume 38 , Number 1

Share this

The Latest from Landis

Aug 06, 2022

Landis Forest 5K - August 6, 2022

A record turnout! Click here to view all the great photos from this event, and... read more

Jun 10, 2022 | Anne Donnelly

Don't Overlook Your Reciprocal Admissions Privilege

A sometimes overlooked benefit of your Landis Arboretum membership is the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal... read more

May 29, 2022

Scenes From the Spring Plant Sale

Thanks to our many wonderful volunteers, plant consignors, vendors, and customers, the Landis Signature Spring... read more

May 28, 2022 | Fred Breglia, Executive Director

From the Director’s Desk: Q&A, Part III

In this last Q&A session, I am focusing on leaf color change during the... read more

May 28, 2022 | Erin McKenna Breglia, Landis Gardener

From the Garden: Milkweeds for Monarchs!

Many people enjoy seeing butterflies in our Landis gardens. especially the monarch butterfly, Danaus... read more

May 28, 2022 | Anita Sanchez

Life and Death on the Lawn

It’s a beautiful summer day. You’ve finished your stack of books from the Landis... read more

News Archive