Garden Pollinators

Posted on June 28, 2016 by Shorty's

by Lisa Rapalus/Buyer

This week is National Pollinator Week and Shorty’s has a great selection of plants to attract those wonderful critters to your landscape! Not only do we have our butterfly and hummingbird tables up and running, the busy bees (honey, bumble, and many other native species) are working over the huge assortment of blooming perennials we have in stock. It’s especially entertaining to watch the bumble bees as they gather large globs of red pollen on their back legs while visiting the lupine! As an added bonus, pollinator plants also tend to attract a whole host of other “beneficials” to your yard. These include predatory insects like ladybugs, lacewing, and predatory wasps that feed on aphids, mites, caterpillars and many other garden pests.

The easiest way to attract pollinators and other beneficials to your landscape is to have a wide assortment of flowering trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals that are in bloom throughout the growing season. Below are some tips and plant ideas for attracting specific critters to your garden:

Hummingbirds

While they tend to be most attracted to red tubular shaped blooms on plants like crocosmia, fuschia, penstemon, and salvia, they will visit many other bloom shapes and colors. Our staff pick this week is Hotlips salvia! If you only have room for one Hummingbird attracting plant this should be it.

Butterflies

You can attract native butterflies to your garden by including the following nectar plants in your landscape: Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed / milkweed), liatris (gayfeather), lavender, and echinacea (coneflower) among others. To encourage our native butterflies to linger, consider planting species specific host plants where females will lay their eggs. Asclepias, for example, is not only a butterfly nectar plant, but also the host plant for Monarch butterflies.

Bees

All of our resident bee species will happily visit just about anything with a flower. Right now in the nursery they are very busy working over the coreopsis, nepeta, lupine and lavender. Late winter / early spring blooming shrubs like pieris and winter heath are very important food sources for our native mason bees.

Here are a few additional tips for a successful pollinator / beneficial garden:

Include herbs in your landscape (lavender, rosemary, dill, thyme, etc.)
Include plants with daisy-like blooms (coreopsis, leucanthemum, echinacea)
Limit the use of pesticides of any kind, especially while in bloom
Provide water sources in your yard (bird bath, shallow saucer, mud puddle)

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