Gardeners understand how beneficial pollinators are our ecosystem. In fact, we know that pollinators are vital to life. Animals like butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, small rodents and bees spread pollen from all sorts of plants and trees. By carrying pollen from plant to plant, key pollinators help plants to:
- Reproduce and produce enough seeds for dispersal and propagation;
- Maintain genetic diversity within a population - key to plant survival and regeneration;
- Develop adequate fruits to entice seed dispersers
Bonus - Visits from bees and other pollinators also result in larger, more flavorful fruits and higher crop yields! In this post, we're showing you Five Ways to Help our Pollinators Thrive and Survive!
Without pollinators, growing fresh fruits and vegetables in your backyard and on farms around the world would be nearly impossible. The problem for gardeners, and for life on our delicate planet Earth, is that for a variety of reasons - climate change, habitat loss due to development, and chemical pesticides-- pollinators are becoming endangered.
Fortunately, you can employ some simple, natural strategies to attract pollinators. Try these four tips to get started. You can also watch our class with Washington Gardeners Kathy Jentz to learn more about which pollinators grow well by season, and how to grow to create homes and protection for key pollinators.
1. Plant Native Flowers
Native plants like Virginia Bluebells, Native Columbine and Purple Coneflower attract pollinators, and because they are adapted to Maryland's environment they are low maintenance. The Maryland DNR offers tons of information and advice on Natives on their website. Stop by your local Homestead Gardens to browse our Pollinator Cafe.
2. Choose a Variety of Plants
You'll have the best luck attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds if you provide food for a longer period of time. Choose a variety of perennials and annuals to keep your garden blooming as long as possible. Our experts can help you choose the best combination for your backyard.
3. Set Out a Supply of Water
Set out a shallow container filled with water or set up a birdbath for a charming accent in your garden. Make sure to place your water source in a shady area where pollinators will feel safe from predators while stopping for a quick drink.
4. Provide Protection
Give your pollinators a home to hide and protect themselves. Piles of loose branches and twigs or a wild area of the lawn can be a perfect place for nesting.
5. Avoid Using Pesticides
It’s important to avoid using pesticides whenever possible. Even certified organic pesticides can have the unintended consequence of killing helpful insects along with the harmful insects.