June may be Perennial Month, but the week of June 19 - 25 is National Pollinator Week. This is the time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them.

We would like thank the Pollinator Partnership for providing these Pollination Fast Facts for Gardeners. The Pollinator Partnership is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the the protection and promotion of pollinators and their ecosystems. Learn more about them at pollinator.org.

What is pollination?

  • Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators. Successful pollination, which may require visits by multiple pollinators to a single flower, results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce. Without pollinators, we simply wouldn't have many crops!
  • About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.
a bee

Why are pollinators important to us?

  • Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend.
  • Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, pumpkins, vanilla, and almonds. Plants that depend on a single pollinator species, and likewise, pollinators that depend on a single type of plant for food are interdependent. If one disappears, so will the other.

What about bees that sting? What about allergies?

  • Most species of bees don't sting. Although all female bees are physically capable of stinging, most bee species native to the U.S. are "solitary bees,” that is, not living in colonies and don't sting unless they are physically threatened or injured. Only honey bees are defensive and may chase someone who disturbs their hive.
  • It is wise, though, to avoid disturbing any bee or insect nest. For instance, if you spot an underground nest of ground-nesting bees, you might want to mark it with a stick so that it can be easily avoided.
  • Some people are allergic to pollen of various flowering trees, plants and grasses, but not to all pollen. A common misunderstanding is that hay fever is caused by goldenrod pollen. It isn’t! Ragweed is the main offender and should be avoided.

Ways you Can Help!

What everyone can do for pollinators:

  • Watch for pollinators. Get connected with nature. Take a walk, experience the landscape and look for pollinators midday in sunny, planted areas.
  • Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!
  • Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitat with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes.

What you can do for pollinators:

  • Create a pollinator-friendly garden habitat in just a few simple steps.
  • Design your garden so that there is a continuous succession of plants flowering from spring through fall. Check for the species or cultivars best suited to your area and gradually replace lawn grass with flower beds.
  • Plant native to your region using plants that provide nectar for adults plus food for insect larvae, such as milkweed for monarchs. If you do use non-native plants, choose ones that don't spread easily, since these could become invasive.
  • Select old-fashioned varieties of flowers whenever possible because breeding has caused some modern blooms to lose their fragrance and/or the nectar/pollen needed to attract and feed pollinators.
  • Install 'houses' for bats and native bees. For example, use wood blocks with holes or small open patches of mud. As little as 12” across is sufficient for some bees.
  • Avoid pesticides, even so-called "natural" ones such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). If you must use them, use the most selective and least toxic ones and apply them at night when most pollinators aren't active.
  • Supply water for all wildlife. A dripping faucet or a suspended milk carton with a pinhole in the bottom is sufficient for some insects. Other wildlife need a small container of water.
  • Provide water for butterflies without letting it become a mosquito breeding area. Refill containers daily or bury a shallow plant saucer to its rim in a sunny area, fill it with coarse pine bark or stones and fill to overflowing with water.
  • Share fun facts, such as: a tiny fly (a “midge”) no bigger than a pinhead is responsible for the world's supply of chocolate; or one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat is delivered to us by pollinators.

There's nothing better than attracting pollinators to your garden.  Whether it's birds, bats or bees, they each play an important role in the pollination of your garden.

Echinacea comes is a variety of wonderful colors, and are pollinator magnets!

We have several perennial favorites to highlight that can help you attract pollinators, and June is when perennials really shine.  These perennials are for sunny gardens and include an assortment of both flowers shapes and flower colors.  These favorites bloom between late spring and late summer, making them workhorses in the garden, and an easy care way of having changing color.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a genus, or a group of herbaceous flowering plants, in the daisy family.  The Echinacea genus has nine different species, which are commonly called coneflowers.  Praised for their large, daisy-like flowers which appear from midsummer thru fall, after many other perennials have finished blooming.  Coneflowers are a mainstay in today's garden.

Bee Balm in bloomThis Monarda, aka Bee Balm, is attractive to bees and gardeners alike!

Monarda -- Bee Balm

The Bee Balm flower has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple and white.  Bee Balm prefers moist, rich soil in a sunny location.  Deadheading, or removing spent flowers, will help promote new flower production.  If you would like a bushier plant, pinch off the stem tips as new growth appears in the early spring.  If you have never enjoyed the Bee Balm, it adds a touch of old-fashioned beauty to your flower garden, and it will attract butterflies and bees for your enjoyment.

penstemonPenstemon 'Cathedral Hot Rose'

Penstemon

Penstemon is one of our more spectacular native plants.  This plant produces dozens of tubular flowers arranged on a tall stalk, perfectly shaped for hummingbirds.  Penstemon is related to snapdragons and come in a variety of cultivated hues such as lavender, salmon pink, red and white.  The stems are triangular and the leaves are arranged opposite each other.  Leaves may be either oval, sword shaped, smooth or waxy.  The best location for Penstemon is in full sun with well draining soil.  This perennial is remarkably tolerant of drought conditions, once established.

Salvia

Growing Salvia is something every gardener should try.  Salvia can be either annual or perennial, most are rapid growers and tolerate summer heat with grace.  They come in a number of colors including blue, purple, pink, red and some whites and yellows.  Most Salvias prefer to dry out between waterings, and can be fertilized with Al's Slow Release plant food, to encourage growth and more flowering spikes.  When blooms are spent remove the spikes to encourage additional flowering.  Salvia will regrow and reward you with blooms that last until autumn.

Veronica Speedwell

Veronica

Plant Veronica Speedwell in the garden to establish long lasting blooms to enjoy throughout the summer season.  This easy care plant doesn't require much upkeep, making them ideal for the time constrained gardener.  Veronica comes in an array of blues, pinks, and white.  She is reportedly both deer and rabbit resistant, but both butterflies and hummingbirds love Veronica.  In order to maximize the bloom, we recommend removing spent spikes, and dividing the plant every few years in early spring or fall.


Whether it's a mop head, lace cap or oak leaf hydrangea that you prefer, hydrangeas are in bloom and ready to enjoy now!  Plant them now to truly enjoy them at their peak.

Besides providing big color, hydrangeas are great problem solvers in the yard.  They can add beautiful foliage for the shade garden, and can act like a tall drift of shrubs at the back of a border to cover up that unappealing deck lattice work.  Hydrangeas are large enough to camouflage the ugliest of air conditioning units, but also small enough to be potted up in a container for the deck.  Best in moist, well drained soil that has been amended with compost. Fertilize in early spring with Al's Slow Release Fertilizer.

Cityline Rio Hydrangea macrophylla "Ragra' -- doesn't need pruning!

Like the other Cityline hydrangeas, Rio is compact and does not need pruning. It's perfect for foundation plantings and milder climate container gardens. It's a small to medium sized early blooming hydrangea with large, long lasting flowers. Flower color ranges from strong blue to purple, depending on the soil. This hydrangea has excellent mildew resistance.

Cityline Berlin Hydrangea macrophylla 'Berlin Rabe' -- largest bloom.

This dwarf Cityline hydrangea stays tight and compact without any pruning, making them a great choice for container gardens.  The clear pink flowers of Berlin are the largest blooms in the series. Easter-egg colored blooms are long lasing, changing to an attractive green with age.  The glossy green leaves enjoy a high level of mildew resistance.  This great landscape plant adds that needed dash of color.  It's good in groupings or in masses as well.

Cityline Paris Hydrangea macrophylla 'Paris Rapa' -- reddest flower.

Ooh la la!  The tight compact habit of Cityline Paris hydrangea makes it a well behaved garden or landscape plant.  But it's vivid red flowers are going to make a bold and stylish statement. One of the smallest hydrangeas on the market, it doesn't not need pruning and it's deep green mildew resistant leaves look handsome all season. Cityline Paris keep its red color in most any soil, only developing purple centers in acidic soils.  The reddest flower color of any big leaf hydrangea, and the smallest and most compact of any hydrangea -- what more would you want.  Use it groupings or masses, or even for screens and hedges.  


Whether it's the tall stateliness of the Delphinium or the comforting fragrance of Lavender, both of these perennials will help attract pollinators to your garden.

English Lavender English Lavender

Spanish Lavender Spanish Lavender

Lavender

Lavender is true summer flower which is loved by butterflies and bees, and its evergreen foliage offers year round interest.  Lavender's beautiful blooms are perfect for fresh bouquets brought directly in from the garden.  Lavender is also well know for being dried for flower arrangements or sachets.

Lavender has a few different forms.  There is the English lavender flower and the Spanish lavender flower.  Both unique, the English lavender has a spike of florets on a stem that grows above it's foliage. Spanish lavender is also a spike of flowers, but has a tuft of petals at the top of the flower cluster.  English lavender 'lavendula angustifolia' is a delicious accent to main dishes and pastry recipes.  

  • Loves full sun and needs good drainage
  • Aromatic foliage and flowers
  • Trim back after blooming to maintain pleasing plant habit
  • Deer resistant 


Delphiniums

Delphiniums are loved for their beautiful blooms, and are especially stunning in fresh bouquets.  Delphiniums are also butterfly and bee magnets.

  • Plant Delphiniums in full sun to a little afternoon shade
  • Delphiniums prefer even soil moisture and good drainage
  • Cut back spent flowers to help promote more flowers
  • Trim foliage as needed
  • Plants may go dormant by late summer
  • Perfect for containers or garden borders

Add pleasing perennials to your borders, and watch them return again and again.


There are so many reasons to make your yard and garden attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. Aside from their botanical benefits, butterflies and hummingbirds are simply a beautiful part of nature that anyone would welcome into their backyard. You can attract these beauties with a few perennials that are pretty attractive themselves: Hostas and Fuchsias.

Hardy Fuchsias

Hostas

Hosta varieties are noted for their wide array of foliage shapes and colors. From small leaves to huge 8" leaves, there is a Hosat for every container or garden site. Hostas are lovely for their foliage, but it's their long stems of white to lavender flower spikes that will bring the butterflies to your garden.

Dream Queen Hosta'Dream Queen' Hosta
Fire n Ice Hosta"Fire n' Ice' Hosta
Old Glory Hosta'Old Glory' Hosta
Al's Expert Tip:

Fuchsias know to send out more roots to help keep them well hydrated in the summer sunshine. If you do have a sunny location, plant your Fuchsia deeper, just like you would a tomato plant.

Fuchsias

Invite your neighborhood hummingbirds to your garden by planting Hardy Fuchsia. The Fuchsia's beautiful flowers are hummingbird magnets, and provide nectar for them all summer long. Hardy Fuchsias are upright perennials that are perfect for the shady or sunny garden spots.

Golden Leaf Fuchsia'Golden Leaf' Fuchsia
Peter Pan Fuchsia'Peter Pan' Fuchsia
Santa Claus Fuchsia'Santa Claus' Fuchsia

When I think of ideal plants for a lovely shade garden, I immediately think of ferns and heucheras. They offer a form of motion and texture in the garden, that cannot be achieved otherwise.

Ferns

Ferns provide those long arching fronds that grace many Northwest gardens. While the Sword Fern owns its regal place among other natives, there are many other unique ferns to enjoy.

Tassel Ferns

This lustrous shiny leaf fern adds an elegant look to shaded gardens. Particularly beautiful when new fronds emerge stiffly, then droop backwards to form the tassel of its namesake. Beautiful in masses for groundcover, especially under flowering shrubs. Herbaceous perennial.

‘Bevis’ Soft Shield Fern

Outstanding for shady areas in the yard, these feathery, dark green fronds look tropical but are actually hardy! The perfect contrast to bold-leaved plants. The 'Bevis' Soft Shield Fern loves our cool woodland settings, adapting well to dry shade conditions when established. Semi-evergreen.

Heuchera

‘Cajun fire’

This forms a sturdy mound of gently-lobed leaves that are red in spring, turn black in summer and then maroon in fall. Sprays of white bell flowers on dark stems appear in June just above the foliage, but can be removed if desired. Excellent in the border, for edging, and in mixed containers. Foliage may be tidied up in spring by removing any withered or tired-looking leaves. Evergreen.

‘Forever Purple’

You know we had to include something purple! This Coral Bells is destined to become the new standard for purple leafed perennials. It forms a mound of glossy, purple leaves with fluted edges year round. Short sprays of purple-pink flowers appear in summer. Sturdy in habit and vigorous. Nice for borders, containers or rock gardens. Remove any winter-burned leaves in the spring, otherwise no pruning is required. Another fantastic Heuchera!

While some find shade gardens limiting, using many layers of foliage that provides both texture and color can create a cool summer oasis like no other.