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Pollinators like bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are crucial for reproduction of plants, which in turn provide food and habitat for other animals. They are also responsible for pollinating about 75% of world's food crops, making them essential to our agriculture and economy.
Unfortunately, pollinator populations are declining at an alarming rate - due to habitat loss, use of pesticides and human activities like construction. As gardeners, we have the power to reverse this trend by creating pollinator gardens with native plants.
Native plants are plants that have evolved for thousands of years to thrive in a particular region's local climate, and soil conditions. They are also an ideal choice for supporting local wildlife and pollinators as these animals have had a very long relationship with native plants. Choosing natives over non-natives and lawn can help you create a garden that can attract native pollinators. Along with helping these creatures, you can also create an aesthetic and low-maintenance garden.
In this blog post, you will learn some useful tips and techniques to establish your own pollinator garden with native plants. Create a garden that is brimming with life! You will also learn how My Home Park can help you succeed in your pollinator conservation mission with its easy to install, pre-designed native plant collections.
A pollinator garden is a garden designed to attract a variety of pollinators like bees and butterflies, birds, hummingbirds and other beneficial insects. To do this, the garden must feature a curated mix of native species which offer food and shelter for pollinators.
A pollinator garden should not just include lush foliage or pretty flowers that provide pollen and nectar. Creating a pollinator garden should also involve choosing the right plant species to creating cozy nooks for these creatures to rest and nest. The best pollinator gardens combine beauty and science.
Creating pollinator gardens with native plants is an excellent idea to support pollinators and even local biodiversity. However, it can be challenging to know where to start, especially if you are new to gardening.
Here is a general guide to help you create a native garden that attracts pollinators:
Before setting up your garden, take time to select plants that are native and suitable to your region. This will require you to understand your local ecosystem in order to the identify the right pollinators and subsequently, the right supportive native plants.
One way is to identify the right plants is to visit your local nursery and garden center to see which native species are sold. You can speak to the experts there and take their advice on which plants are suited to your area.
Using online native plant databases can also help you choose plants for your region. These databases allow you to search by zip code or region to filter out all the plant varieties that are available and suitable for your area.
If you don't have time to research plants and nurseries, check out My Home Park's pre-designed plant collections, which are specially curated for different states in the U.S. Browse our collections by selecting your state and choose a collection that suits your interests.
Most people may be tempted to just plant one native plant species in their garden. But, a garden planted with different types of flowering plants, which bloom in different colors, shapes and sizes can easily attract a diverse pollinator set. Choosing a diverse range of plant species is important for catering to the specific food and habitat needs of these creatures.
For instance, native bees are usually attracted to colors like yellow, purple and blue. So, you can install species like coneflowers and brown-eyed susans (both plants that are featured in My Home Park collections!). Similarly, butterflies are drawn towards shades of red, yellow and pink. You can attract butterflies with plants like milkweed and butterfly bush. Other pollinators, like hummingbirds, prefer brightly colored shrubs and flowers with a tubular shape. The tubular shape allows them to draw nectar with their long beaks. Cardinal flowers and trumpet vine are ideal for inviting them to your garden.
Also, it's a good idea to select different types of flowering plants with different blooming periods to provide pollinators with a continuous source of nectar and pollen throughout their growing season. This is especially important during the times of year when food sources may be scarce - such as late fall, early spring or late summer. When choosing plants, try to avoid modern hybrids with double flowers. These plants may not appeal to insects.
NOTE: Planting in clumps or mass planting is a good idea to help pollinators easily find the flowers they need. Mass planting provides more food, reduces the need for competition and creates the perfect microclimates for pollinators to take shelter.
Selecting host plants is another crucial aspect for creating a native pollinator garden. These plants are used by specific pollinators to lay their eggs and feed their larvae. For example, monarch butterflies require milkweed plants as their 'hosts' since the leaves act as nests that support their eggs and provide food for their larvae. Additionally, you can also create insect nesting sites like bee hotels, hollow stems and brush piles to increase the pollinator population.
If you observe holes or half-eaten leaves on some plants, don't worry! This is a sign that your garden is successfully transforming into a pollinator garden.
Many native species produce seed heads or seeds that are attractive to different types of pollinators. For example, Echinacea purpurea or coneflower produces large spiky seeds that are a favorite of many seed-eating birds. Similarly, plants like butterfly weed and wild bergamot also produce seeds which are relished by different types of native birds.
So, leaving seed heads intact in your pollinator garden in an easy way to provide a reliable source of food for pollinators throughout the winter months.
Soil preparation is a crucial step to creating a successful pollinator garden. It helps in creating an environment for a healthy plant growth which in turn, helps in attracting local biodiversity.
The first step to soil preparation is understand the soil type in your garden. If you are unsure, you can have your soil tested by a local expert or check with your neighbors (in case they already know your soil type!).
If you find that your garden soil is heavy and compacted, you can till the soil and add organic matter, like compost, to improve its structure and drainage. If the soil is sandy and lacks nutrients, add some nutrient-rich organic matter to improve its fertility.
Leave some patches of bare soil in your garden for ground nesting bees and other insects to build nests in the soil. You can provide habitats for them by not covering certain parts of the garden with ground covers, mulch or native grasses.
While creating a pollinator garden, you must remember that the health and well-being of pollinators and the surrounding environment is top priority. One way to ensure this is by avoiding the use of fertilizers and chemical pesticides in your garden.
Although chemicals may seem like a quick fix to boost the growth of plants, prevent pests and reduce weed growth, they can have devastating effects on pollinators and the broader ecosystem. Chemicals not only kill targeted pests but also kill beneficial insects like wasps, bees and butterflies. Similarly, they can damage healthy plants, along with weeds, in your garden. Chemicals also ruin the quality of soil, increase soil run off and contaminate nearby water sources.
You can use alternate safe methods like natural fertilizers, natural insect repellants and ground covers to address problems in areas like plant growth, pests and weeds respectively.
At MyHomePark, we believe that creating a native pollinator garden should be easy, fun and rewarding. This is why, we have designed a wide range of plant collections to provide a diverse range of colors, shapes and sizes required to create a successful pollinator garden. Providing any of these collections will give you a wonderful pollinator garden.
Whether you are a beginner or an experienced gardener, our plant collections take the guesswork out of a creating a pollinator garden that is beautiful and healthy. They already incorporate many of the suggestions listed above - from featuring native plant species local to your region to ensuring species have different blooming periods.
If you want to make your garden buzz-worthy, explore our pre-designed plant combos now or get in touch with us for assistance.