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Growing a Garden Full of Pollinator Plants
Growing a garden is so much more than producing food and flowers for you to enjoy. It’s about creating an ecosystem where wildlife, pollinators, and nature can thrive. Creating an abundant ecosystem is even more important in urban spaces where greenways, parks, and nature preserves are just not enough. As urban sprawl continues to gobble up precious green areas, we as gardeners, need to do our part to create spaces that allow pollinators and native wildlife to flourish. Not surprisingly, the easiest way to start is to fill your garden with pollinator plants that insects, birds, moths, and other wildlife can enjoy.
What are Pollinator Plants?
Pollinator plants are of particular interest to bees, moths, butterflies, and other insects. These pollinators can indirectly and directly pollinate essential crops like your garden vegetables. In contrast to popular belief, pollinator plants do not have to be just flowers; they also can be herbs that you allow to flower. In fact, plants in the parsley family are of particular interest to pollinators. So, let your dill, parsley, cilantro, and other herbs go to flower, and watch the insects come and enjoy your garden. Here is a quick list of some of the easiest to grow garden pollinator plants:
- Four O’Clock
- Morning Glory
- Sweet Peas
Herbs (when allowed to flower)
Allowing Native Plants to Thrive as Pollinator Plants
Growing a pollinator garden does not have to involve growing all-new garden plants. For instance, you can simply encourage and allow native plants to thrive in your garden. Plants like California buckwheat, sumacs (e.g., Lemonade Berry), sages, milkweeds, lupines, yarrow, and others are easy to grow, low water plants that can bring bees, butterflies, moths, and even bats to your garden! Dedicating an area of your garden for native plants to thrive will save on your water bill and provide habitat for precious local wildlife and pollinators.
Add Water Features Along with Your Pollinator Plants
Water is the most important limiting factor for plants and animals in our very hot and dry climate. Pollinator plants need available water to thrive. Leaving out a shallow dish with water in it can allow pollinators to have a water source. Water sources should not be too deep and should dry out every few days to prevent the breeding of mosquitos. We use a shallow plant saucer from a pot and add rocks to it so that bees can easily and safely get to the water.
Allowing Pollinators and Insects in Your Garden
By creating a pollinator garden, you are committing to allowing insects of all kinds in your garden. You should avoid the use of insecticides. The use of insecticides (organic or conventional) can disrupt the lifecycles of many insects and cause collateral damage to the very ecosystem you are trying to create.
Remember that your garden, and this planet, are not ours and ours alone. This planet is magical and beautiful because of the plants, animals, and insects that thrive here. It is our responsibility as gardeners and nature lovers to protect the creatures that make this planet magical.