6 Tips for Planting a Garden Pollinators Will Love
You’ve probably heard that our country’s bee population is in serious danger. If you’re not so keen on bee stings you might have wondered, “So, what’s the big deal?” But the fact is that bees and other animals and insects that pollinate plants are absolutely necessary to the survival of a large proportion of crops and flowering plants. Humankind depends heavily on the work of bees, birds and butterflies (the 3 B’s) to pollinate fruit, vegetable, nut plants and most of the beautiful flowers you love. So, while there are several factors that have contributed to the decline in the population of the 3 B’s, we’d like to focus on what we can do to improve the situation. Here at Packard Farm, whenever possible, we urge gardeners to choose plants that will attract and nourish our wonderful pollinators. If you’d like to do the same but don’t know where to start, here are a few of our best tips:
1. Think Local
Luckily for us, pollinators don’t’ have very exotic tastes – they like what grows locally. That means it’s best for you to plant things that are adapted naturally to New England. You can use a mix of perennials, annuals, herbs and shrubs but just take care to choose ones that thrive in our region. When you visit Packard Farm, be sure to ask one of gardening experts to point you in the direction of the best local plants for pollinators. But here is a short list of some of our favorites:
2. Play the Long Game
Do your best to pick a variety of plants with different blooming times so that your garden can be a good source for pollinators for as many months out of the year as possible. Here in Massachusetts, that should be from early spring trough the fall.
3. Variety is The Spice of Life
Not only will it be visually pleasing, but a diverse garden will be very pleasing to your local pollinators. Go for a mix of colors, shapes and fragrances when choosing your flowers. And keep in mind that bees tend to like blue, purple, white and yellow while butterflies are most attracted to red and purple.
4. Sunny Groups
When you get home with your plants, be sure to put the pollinator favorites in areas of your yard that get full sun because they like to bask in the rays. Also, put them in large groupings, which are much more tempting to pollinators than single, isolated plants.
5. Be a Good Host
Think of your garden as a bed and breakfast for pollinators. Provide salt licks for butterflies, feeders for hummingbirds and a source of fresh water for bee colonies. It’s also a good idea to have places for pollinators to nest or lay eggs so think about adding things like shrubbery, bee blocks or bat houses.
6. Be a Purist
Though hybrid plants may be quite interesting to you, they’re not of much interest to pollinators. In fact, many hybrids are bred to have less of what the pollinators want – nectar, fragrance and pollen. And speaking of purity, it’s best to avoid chemical pesticides. But if you must, make sure you never spray when pollinators are at work on a plant. If you have a garden, there’s no reason not to have a pollinator garden. Think of what you plant as its own little ecosystem that attracts the very creatures that give your plants life. You’ll end up with a beautiful garden that is also sustainable and good for the planet. If you have any questions about getting started with or maintaining a good garden for pollinators, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or come in for advice from our local garden center specialists.