Pollinators are the tiny, often unrecognized friends of humankind that help keep this planet healthy and teeming with life.
Pollinators find flowers highly attractive. It’s not because they’re beautiful and smell heavenly; it’s because flowers are the local gourmet restaurant for pollinators. The blossoms that these helpful creatures frequent produce sweet, sticky nectar that pollinators just can’t get enough of. When they feed, they brush against the flower’s anthers (which produce pollen), and get sprinkled with this magical flower dust.
Pollinators flutter from blossom to blossom, gorging themselves on delectable nectar, and unintentionally spreading pollen and fertilizing the flowers. This fertilization process results in most of the fruits that delight human palates, as well as the continuation of thousands of species of plants, and the animals that rely on them to meet their daily needs.
These are the top ten pollinators in the USA, according to agamerica.com:
1. Wild honeybees
2. Managed (domesticated) bees
3. Bumble bees
4. Other bee species
8. Other insects (like some flies and beetles)
Planting a garden to feed these tiny allies directly benefits the environment. It builds sustainability in your corner of the globe, and helps to protect the world’s biodiversity.
It’s also a fascinating, hands-on natural learning initiative for your kids. If your children are anything like mine, your house is littered with jars and containers crawling with every sort of miniature wildlife, which you’re constantly having to sneak back into the garden. Kids can’t get enough of observing and collecting insects in their outdoor play time. A pollinator garden creates the ideal window for an informal biology lesson, and for teaching kids about environmental issues.
If you’re wondering how to plant a garden for pollinators, this is the most important aspect to consider: the plants themselves. Not all plants produce generous servings of nectar. To get you started, we’ve made a tasty list of common perennials that will feed pollinators.
Here’s what you can plant:
· Anise hyssop
· Bee balm
· Black-eyed Susan
· Common poppy
· Lemon balm
· Milkweed (otherwise known as butterfly weed)
· Pica Bella coneflower
· Russian sage
· Showy goldenrod
· Sweet basil
· Sweet alyssum
A lot of these plants make a fragrantly delicious addition to your herb garden too… it’s a win-win!
If you don’t have an outdoor garden, you can still please the pollinators by creating an indoor garden. Just stock up on plant pots like these biodegradable peat pots, and plant them with some perennials from our list (hint: you’ll like the herbs). Line them up on your balcony or exterior windowsill, or keep them in a sunny spot inside and leave a window open during the day for pollinators.
Written by Rifke Hill
About the Author
Rifke Hill was raised on the sort of farm your grandparents told tales about – milking cows, gathering eggs, hoeing the soil, and building fires to heat water. She now spends part of her time copywriting online as a freelancer. The rest of it is spent nurturing and teaching her four energetic children, growing vegetables, baking bread, reading voraciously, having coffee with the neighbors, and enjoying the sunny slopes of the smallholding where she lives, in the Garden Route, South Africa.