How to Grow: Attracting Pollinators To Your Garden

Learn about the best ways to attract butterflies, bees, birds and other pollinators to your garden.

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pollinatorsPollinator gardens are hot! Maybe it’s the press the two poster children of pollinators, Monarch butterflies and honey bees, are getting. Or it could be just a higher awareness of the role pollinators play in our food system and ecosystem. But it seems everyone is talking about helping pollinators.

You can join in. It’s not too late to grow a pollinator garden for this summer. It all starts with growing the right plants.

Choose pollinator friendly plants, such as wildflowers and heirloom varieties of popular flowers. Some modern hybrid flowers maybe attractive and have good characteristics such as sterile seed to prevent self-sowing, but they aren’t the best for pollinators. Plant a variety of early, mid and late season perennial flowers, mixed with trees, shrubs and annuals to provide a supply of nectar and pollen. Remember butterfly larvae will need their own special plants such as borage, fennel, parsley, milkweed and nettle. We like to let some of our fennel, cilantro, and dill go to flower each year for native bees in our garden. Native shrubs and trees such as willow, linden, and lilac are great additions as well. Of course, you’ll need to reduce or eliminate pesticide sprays in the garden.

Provide areas for shelter and nesting in your yard by leaving old snag trees, piles of branches and meadow areas in tact. Erect nesting boxes for bees and bats. And make sure the pollinators have a source of water such as a bird bath or even a muddy puddle area for butterflies.

From the Vermont Garden Journal.

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