How to get (and keep) pollinators in your garden
Gardens, whether they are composed of native plants, ornamental plants or intended for fruit and vegetable production, are an important part of your home’s aesthetic, but getting your plants to flourish can be tricky. The key to successful gardening is providing the right conditions in which your plants can thrive. Most people think about fertilizer, soil amendment and irrigation, but fewer consider the role of pollination. Bees get a bad reputation, but they’re a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystems and over three quarters of the world’s flowering plants rely on them to reproduce. Butterflies, hoverflies, and small birds also help plants flourish. Here are a few easy ways to attract and sustain healthy pollinators in your garden:
Maintain a variety of plant species
The United States Fish and Wildlife services recommends having a many different types of plants in your garden to attract a variety of pollinators. This includes plants of varying shapes and colors and ones that bloom at different times during the year. Spring-blooming flowers are especially important because they foster newly born queen bees, who are vital to the hive. Interestingly, each species of bee has a different length of tongue, so each one relies on specific flowers for food – and in turn, each flower relies on specific bee species for pollination.
Many pesticides contain toxins that can kill pollinators. If not lethal, pesticides can also have devastating effects on a pollinator’s olfactory and reproductive systems. Keeping pesticides out of your soil or using organic pest control and fertilizers is a great way to foster pollinator activity in your garden.
Humans need shelter to raise their families. So do bees. Providing small covered areas for bees such as bird houses, lows shrubs, old branches, and grasses will foster their breeding so they’ll stay in your garden.
It’s easy to import seeds, but you need to rely on the pollinators in your area to help them grow. Making sure the plants you want to establish can be pollinated by bee and butterfly species in your area will assure that your garden thrives.
Make sure there is easy access to water
Bees need water to stay hydrated and cool. Having a shallow, clean source of water is essential to making your pollinators thrive. Using a pie pan or shallow dish filled with pebbles and water is an ideal way to help bees. These sorts of structures keep bees hydrated but ensure they don’t drown in water that’s too deep!
For more information on pollinator conservation and pollinator friendly plants, go to xerces.org.
Featured courtesy photo of Pixabay.com