If you want to provide food for bees and butterflies in your garden, then these are the plants and conditions they like.
Lately, the whole world has been focused on bees, and rightfully so! From a viral TikTok video that gained 78 million views, to articles here on Medium, the importance and preservation of our buzzing friends was accentuated.
As an urban plant grower, bees and other insects are an essential part of my garden. They pollinate the flowers and vegetables, and it is always nice to treat them by planting plants they like.
Last year, I planted several pots of zucchini on my balcony that kept flowering, but the blooms never produced any fruit. After a frustrating harvest, I learned that some vegetable plants produce two kinds of flowers that have to pollinate each other.
However, since I had no pollinators which don’t only include bees, but also hummingbirds, butterflies, and beetles, my flowers did not cross-pollinate to produce even a single zucchini.
Therefore, this year, attracting pollinators will be my primary goal in addition to planting a vegetable garden.
After some thorough research, I learned that pollinators are important to the reproductive success of more than 75% of flowering plants and is acquited to water and sunlight.
In this article, I would like to cover the best plants to grow if you would like to attract pollinators like bees, butterflies, and other useful bugs to your garden this summer!
First of all, what is pollination?
Pollination is a process of transferring the pollen from the flower’s male parts to the female parts of the same species. That’s how plants reproduce. Most plants rely on pollinators to do it, but it can also happen through wind and water. To attarct them, flowers produce nectar and when it gets collected by bees, the pollen gets transferred.
Which plants do they like?
Bees are attracted to bright white, yellow, or blue flowers as well as plants with contrasting ultraviolet patterns that have fresh, mild odors. A good choice would be lavender, beebalms, sunflowers, zinnia, milkweed, cornflower, mint, and dill.
But bees are not the only insects plants like..
Make a garden in a variety of hues to attract different pollinators like butterflies, hummingbirds, flies, and even bats.
Hummingbirds like bright scarlet, orange, red, and white tubular shaped flowers with no distinct smell. Species like penstemon (beard tongue), honeysuckle, torch lily, salvia, hummingbird mint, and trumpet vine.
Butterflies are attracted to bright red and purple flowers with a faint, but fresh odor. Flowers like mexican sunflower, yarrow, butterfly weed, liatris.
Flies are attracted to green, white, or cream flowers with little odors, or brown and purple flowers that have putrid odors.
Beetles are attracted to white or green flowers with odors ranging from none to strongly fruity or foul.
The hummingbird moth is active during the day however most moths are active at night and are attracted to pale red, purple, pink or white flowers that emit a strong, sweet odor at night.
What should your garden look like?
- Choose a variety of colors and shapes that will attract a variety of pollinators.
- Choose plants that flower at different times providing nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season.
- Plant in clumps rather than single plants to better attract pollinators since most of them are near sighted and better see clusters from the distance.
- Avoid pesticide use.
- Leave out shrubs and tall grass to provide nesting space for them.
Their population is declining
In the US, the bee population withnessed a 15–20% decline in the past years. The probable reasons might be due to habitat loss, land degradation, misuse of pesticides, and disease. That’s why, we should do everything to help the bees and other pollinators to collect the nectar and help our plants reproduce.
Overall, Eastern monarchs have declined by more than 80% over the past two decades. Monarchs have become the face of the wildlife extinction crisis where even once common species could now disappear.
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