March 28, 2016
Sunlight, water, and soil are three vital ingredients to plant survival. But long term survival requires the ability to reproduce, and for that, pollinators get virtually all the credit. A plant’s ability to create seeds depends on pollination. For that to occur, primarily insects such as bees and butterflies, hummingbirds, and thousands of others must move pollen from one flower to the next for the fertilization to occur that allows the flower to produce seeds. Wind sometimes moves pollen, but the vast majority of plants rely on pollinators.
Give pollinators credit for most of the fruits, nuts, and berries, that feed the world’s human and wildlife population and for the seeds that grow new plants.
Recent reports of declining populations of bees and monarch butterflies have brought attention and a renewed appreciation of all pollinators. There is so much we can do (that really requires so little effort on our part) to protect and promote pollinators!
- Start with planning and planting. Choose a mix of plants for your garden, patio pots, and landscape so that there are flowers throughout the season to provide a steady supply of nectar and pollen sources. Plant in clumps or drifts...a good show of color and a variety of flower shapes attracts many different pollinators.
- Provide some habitat for nesting, egg-laying, and larva. Shrubs, tall grasses, different sized perennial plants provide nesting and roosting. Bee nesting boxes encourage solitary, gentle bees like Mason bees (super pollinators, but no stingers!) to nest in your yard. Provide a few plants that butterfly larva feed on such as milkweed, fennel, and parsley. Keep a few small shallow containers of water scattered throughout your garden.
- Be smart in your use of pesticides. Pesticides are toxic to pollinators. Perhaps we need to accept a little damage and use pesticides only when truly necessary, spraying only targeted plants. Never spray plants while they are flowering. Those flowers are visited by pollinators. Trim away any flowers that may have been hit with spray drift. Apply pesticides at night or at dawn to allow sprays to dry while pollinators are less active. Know for sure what pest is causing damage. Bring in a sample of the insect or a leaf showing the damage to the plant. We have a microscope in our garden center to help correctly identify the insect causing the damage. We will help you find the best product to control the insect or disease, and provide advice to be sure that you are applying the correct control at the correct time to get the best result from the pesticide. Let’s never use more than is absolutely needed!
Let Peck’s staff help you create a welcoming environment for pollinators and a beautiful garden and landscape for you to enjoy. Whether you need help with a new garden or just an open problem spot, please bring in a photo of your site and the approximate measurements to get help from one of our five Iowa Certified Nursery Professionals. By combining trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennial flowers, herbs and annual flowers we have a huge palette of plants and will select those that will perform best together to fit your site. Let’s create a design to keep the blooms coming all season using easy care plants with lots of color!
Many of our favorite pollinator plants are either natives or “Native-vars” ...that’s a named plant variety that was found and selected from a group of natives. Here’s a short list of just a few of our favorite plants to attract pollinators:
Trees: maple, willow, redbud & crabapple
Shrubs: chokeberry, weigela, fothergilla, buttonbush, spiraea
Perennials: aster, beebalm, milkweed, coneflower, hyssop, blazing star, Joe-Pye, coreopsis, phlox, penstemon....we have a HUGE list of “Pollinator Perennials”!!!
Herbs: parsley, fennel, catmint
Annuals: zinnia, lantana, cosmos, ageratum, verbena (especially Verbena Bonariensis!)
“BUZZ-IN” or “FLUTTER-IN” (bad pun, couldn’t stop myself!) to see us soon!!!