If you enjoy fruits like blueberries and apples, or if you plant summer squash or fall pumpkins in your garden, you have a reason to protect our pollinators.
Without pollinators, including butterflies and bees, the flowering plants they visit would not produce food. The pollination process also helps provide fibers, medicines, and other products, and it provides food and habitat for wildlife.
Pollinators include the aforementioned bees and butterflies, as well as moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and wasps. Overall, populations of these pollinators have decreased due to habitat loss, disease, and pesticide misuse.
We all can help by adding certain plants to our yards and gardens. Pollinators need flower nectar and pollen to survive, and in the case of butterflies, they also may need other plants to sustain caterpillars. If you want to attract a certain species, do a little homework to see what plants are desired for each stage of life.
Good plant choices can be perennials, annuals, vegetables or herbs. Examples of positive pollinator plants include asters, beebalm, black-eyed Susan, Joe Pye weed, purple coneflower, great blue lobelia, bellflowers, hollyhocks, indigo, sunflowers, butterfly weed, milkweeds, goldenrod, larkspur, and tomatoes.
It is best to choose native plants. Cultivars may not be as effective at providing for our pollinators, and exotic plants may not feed a diverse population of these helpers.
Following are a few additional tips to keep in mind when planning a place for pollinators:
- Create a new bed or choose an existing bed, about 4 feet by 6 feet to allow for plant growth
- Pick a variety of flowers for each blooming stage of the season (late spring through fall)
- Plant similar flowers in groups of three or five
- Supplement perennials with annual choices like zinnia and sunflower
- When selecting flowers, remember to keep in mind how much sun and moisture the area receives
- Gardeners should also limit or exclude insecticide use in pollinator areas.
In a few simple steps, gardeners can create a pollinator space and help promote populations of these important partners. Learn more @ https://web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/downloads/60043.pdf