Did you know that one third of our plant-based food sources depend on insects for pollination? Pollinators are an integral part of our food supply chain and unfortunately, their populations are rapidly declining. This decline is mostly due to loss of habitats and limited plant diversity.
This rapid decline of pollinators, such as honey bees, leaf cutter bees, mason bees, beetles, butterflies, moths, and wasps, affects us all. With a little garden planning to create welcoming habitats in our yard, we can all help attract and encourage these populations. Even a small pollinator garden can help numerous pollinators and a variety of insect species to thrive.
Designing a Pollinator Garden
There are hundreds of different species of bees in Minnesota, not just the honeybee and yellowjacket. Different species have varying tongue length or preferences for sources of nectar and pollen. In order to encourage more than one bee species, we need to grow a wide variety of plants.
What to include in your pollinator garden:
- Plant flowers of different shapes and colors. Bees especially like blue, purple, violet, white and yellow.
- Choose several flowers that bloom from April to September.
- Select native plants to attract native pollinators if possible. Generally, native plants attract native bees and exotic plants attract honeybees.
- Create a target by grouping similar colored plants together.
- Provide nesting sites or overwintering areas by keeping an area in your yard untidy with leaf litter or logs. Native bees nest in sand and compost, not in hives.
- Refrain from using pesticides. If you have an annoying insect pest, choose organic localized means to treat the problem.
- Talk with your lawn care provider to let them know that you’re trying to conserve pollinator habitats, so that they can accommodate these insects.
What to Plant to Promote Pollinators
The plant and tree list below is not inclusive of all plants that attract pollinators, but the list provides a variety of flower shapes, blooming seasons, height, and those that thrive in the Minnesota climate.
|Name||Type of Plant||Blooms|
|Salvia||Annual||Early to Late|
|Wild Geranium||Small Shrub||Early|
|Heliotrope||Small Shrub||Early to Mid|
|Wild Lupine||Perennial||Early to Mid|
|Hyssop||Perennial||Early to Mid|
|Thyme||Herb||Mid to Late|
|Oregano||Herb||Mid to Late|
|Zinnia||Annual||Mid to Late|
|Pumpkin or Squash||Annual||Late|
Plants for Hummingbirds
Insects aren’t the only pollinators that need flowers! Hummingbirds have amazingly adaptions as a pollinator, plus they’re a beautiful addition to your backyard. Hummingbirds love the color red, so plant perennials such as red hollyhock, bee balm, or honeysuckle. Annuals such as begonias, geraniums, and petunias also attract hummingbirds.
If you have any questions or would like start planning your pollinator garden, contact us to get in touch with one of our landscape designers.