The key to a happy and healthy pollinator garden is providing pollen sources from early spring to late fall. Create a beautiful habitat that makes you and the bees happy.
Create a happy pollinator garden in 5 easy steps
1. Plant flowers and plants that will provide a healthy pollen source from early spring to late fall. Spring bulbs such as crocus, are prefect and then you can add native plants and flowers for the summer and fall.
2. Choose seeds and bulbs that are organic/untreated. Treated seeds, in most cases have been coated in some sort of pesticide or fungicide.Treated seeds can harm pollinators such as bees when they eat or bring this pollen from mature plants, back to their brood aka baby bees.
3. Plant in drifts- pollinators are more likely to find large drifts of color. Plant three or more plants at a time or in the case of bulbs plant in clumps of 10 or more. Plus your garden looks more amazing this way.
4. Provide a water source- a shallow dish or bird bath with rocks or pebbles at the bottom so they can land safely and get a drink.
5. Save perennial garden cleanup till spring- tidy up if you must but leave dried stems and leaf litter alone. Some pollinates over winter in hollow stems and leaf litter. Wait to cut stems back and remove leaf litter till earl April.
Spring bulbs are a great choice but when choosing plants for the summer and fall think beyond flowers. Herbs such as parsley are butterfly food and bees love the flowers when you let it go to seed. When it comes to butterflies we often think of the flowers they like and forget to have the plants the caterpillars eat. No caterpillars equals no butterflies.
- Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed.
- Spicebush swallowtail caterpillars feed mainly on spicebush and sassafras.
- Black swallowtail caterpillars depend on plants in the parsley family.
Mums are all the rage in fall but Asters are my favorites and I think a better choice for a pollinator garden. They are perennial, come in beautiful colors and are a great late pollen source.
For more information check out this link from Penn State and see our Organic Happy Bee Mixes for early to late spring bee mixes. For a detailed plant list for summer and fall, this link from the Xerces Society is super helpful. https://xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/.