When we think of pollinators, striking hummingbirds and colorful butterflies may take the lead. However, while bees, wasps, flies and bats might not be our favorites of the bunch, the truth of the matter is, they need us too and we need them.
It’s been estimated that more than 1,300 plants are grown worldwide for food, beverages, medicine and even textiles. Of those 1,300 plants, 75% are directly related to pollination by animals. That’s a pretty impressive feat!
Pollinators play a huge role on the ecological stage. They help pollinate our crops, maintain biodiversity and make that beautiful bouquet on your kitchen table possible. Yet, sadly, one of our prized pollinators is in decline. Over the past 50 years, the population of European honeybees has been cut in half due to habitat destruction, competition with invasive species and improper use of pesticides.
Even more than honeybees, native bees are a major contributor to crop pollination. One mason bee can pollinate as much as 100 honeybees can. You may be surprised to learn that within the U.S. there are 4,000 species of native bees, including bumblebees, sweat bees, mason bees and squash bees. And these bees, too, are in trouble. More than 50 percent of native bee species disappeared from their historic ranges in the last 100 years. So what can you do to help?
Kyle Lambert, Perennial Manager and a 20-year employee of The Growing Place, suggests interplanting, or working natives into existing gardens, as well as annuals to attract a plethora of pollinators, thus boosting the ecosystem.
The Growing Place carries a line of plants called Natural Garden Natives. These plants are carefully selected wildflowers and grasses that easy to grow and make good partners in traditional gardens. They are sourced from no more than 80 miles outside of St. Charles and great local plants.
“One of the most important things you can do in your yard is refrain from using pesticides, especially when in bloom, and provide flowering plants throughout the season that have available nectar and pollen,” Lambert said.
“By picking and choosing perennials, shrubs, herbs and annuals with overlapping bloom times, you provide a constant buffet for pollinators.”
Take a look below at a few recommendations that are sure to have pollinators frequenting your gardens and containers this season. Remember to create stable nesting grounds and provide a water source for pollinators!
Salvia guaranitica, Black and Bloom Salvia – this is a remarkable and fragrant plant that attracts bees and hummingbirds! This is a full sun, vibrant dark blue and black plant that flowers from spring to fall. Check out our multitude of salvias, some of which are staff favorites.
Lantanas cameras, such as the Hybrid, ‘Landmark Sunrise Rose’ – a Growing Place Choice plant that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Comes in a variety of cultivars and pot sizes. A great accent for the garden or hanging basket. Grows 10” – 14” H by 12” – 18” W. Blooms bicolor all season and prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Asclepias curassavica, Red Milkweed – at TGP we have multiple varieties of everyone’s favorite butterfly plant. Perfect for attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. Asclepias varieties are the main source of food for monarch caterpillars and are a great way to attract these critters; unusual and showy bicolored five-petaled flowers with bright yellow.
Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower – a Growing Place choice plant that attracts bees, butterflies, birds and provides winter interest. The flowers attract bees and butterflies while in bloom, and if left intact in winter, birds dine on the seeds. Prefers full sun to part shade and average soil. This is one of the most popular, long-lived, versatile native plants.
Zizia aurea, Golden Alexanders – this native plant blooms in May and June, attracting butterflies. Topped with eye-catching yellow flowers, this full sun to part shade, moist soil plant is an underused native that deserves more attention. Grows 18” – 24” H and 18” – 24” W.
Liatris pycnostachya, Prairie Blazing Star and Liatris cylindracea, Cylindrical Blazing Star – Joannie, Retail Perennial Manager in Aurora, believes Liatris to be the #1 Native Full Sun Pollinator Perennial, and it’s definitely a crowd pleaser. This popular plant with a long bloom season attracts butterflies (especially monarchs and swallowtails), birds, hummingbirds and some bees. Just last summer, Sales Associate Amy Krentz snapped this photo of a swallowtail and Prairie Blazing Star on the sales floor.
Salvia elegans, Pineapple Sage – “Adding herbs to your garden is a nice way to attract pollinators while also being able to use them for culinary purposes,” Sales Associate Judy Boeding said. And this one is no exception. It attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees and acts as an excellent culinary, tea, or ornamental plant.
Check out our Plant Guide, both online and in print, for more information, as well as our Bees, Birds, Butterflies & Bats in Your Garden pamphlet for more tips!
Posted on 5/19/2016 at 11:56:00 AM