a field of many pollinator-friendly blooms

Our pollinator friends need our help. These hard-working animals help pollinate over 75% of our flowering plants, and nearly 75% of our crops. When bees and other pollinators visit our crops, we get higher yields and more flavorful fruits. Without them, wildlife would have fewer nutritious berries and seeds, and we would miss many fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

While they’ve been hard at work for us, taking care our food and flower supply, pollinators have been fighting an uphill battle for survival as their numbers have been steadily declining over the last couple of decades. Let’s give them a hand. It’s not only a great idea, it’s easy, fun and beautiful.

The good news is that pollinators are attracted by a wide variety of blooming plants. So, in order to plan a pollinator garden, choose the right flower with the right traits to attract new friends. For blooms year after year, and repeat visits from pollinators, we’ll focus on finding the best perennials for your pollinators.

BEES

Bees like bright white, yellow, blue colored with a fresh, mild, and pleasant odor. These flowers need to be shallow for our short little bees to reach inside with a landing platform and tubular.

Some particularly enticing plants for bees include Lavender (Lavandula), Coneflower (Echinacea), Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Bee Balm (Monarda), Hyssop (Agastache), Coreopsis, and Catmint (Nepeta).

Everyone loves Lavender - especially the bees!

BUTTERFLIES

Butterflies will come to your brightly colored red and purple flowers, they like ample nectar that’s deeply hidden in a narrow tube with a spur and a wide landing pad. Butterflies are near-sighted and are attracted to large swatches of a particular type of flower.

Larger butterflies prefer to land on flowers with compact heads such as: Goldenrod (Solidago), Gaillardia, and Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), or tightly packed clusters of flowers, like Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Fragrance may be even more important than color, so consider Lavender (Lavandula), Lilac (Syringa) and honeysuckle (Lonicera) which all emit strong fragrances. Butterflies also love Peony (Paeonia), Salvia, Wallflower (Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve) and especially Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), for Monarchs.

Milkweed is especially good for attracting the Monarch butterfly.

HUMMINGBIRDS

Hummingbirds are stimulated by color, especially bright reds and purples. Plant in clumps of bright flowers so they are more visible. They are looking for flowers with ample nectar, deeply hidden in a narrow tube with spur or wide landing pad.

A typical hummingbird plant has many flowers with open blossoms. The flowers must be on the outside of the plant so they can feed without hitting their wings on foliage and you will want to leave enough space around flowers for hummingbirds to maneuver.

Some hummingbird plants to include are Hardy Fuchsia (Fuchsia), Daylily (Hemerocallis), Coral Bells (Heuchera), Red Hot Poker Plants (Kniphofia), Penstemon and Garden Phlox (Phlox).

This beautiful hummingbird loves the nectar of a Penstemon

Creating a Pollinator Paradise

Add shrubs and trees to complete the landscape haven. Include Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor), Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Red-flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum), and California lilac (Ceanothus). Al’s carries a new variety of Butterfly bush, the Buddliea Lo & Behold ® series of compact habit plants which is a butterfly magnet and bred to be safe in our environment. This is not to be confused with the old Butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) which is considered a noxious weed in Oregon.

Now that you’ve chosen the right plants for the right pollinator, here are some fun tips to create a haven for busy little bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Female hummingbirds use the nest year after year so if you provide for them properly, you may be in for a long-term relationship. Provide cover, food, water and proper spacing as well as perching spots above the garden or near a bird feeder. It might be smart to provide more than one hummingbird feeder as hummingbirds can be very territorial!

Butterflies need protection from the wind, nectar plants, water and host plants for the larvae (caterpillars), who will suffer if they don’t find the right plant. Try to plant near open, sunny areas for basking and mud puddles for water and nutrients.

The longer our gardens stay in bloom, the better chance the pollinators will have to eat, rest, and lay eggs. Succession planting of a diverse selection of plants that bloom from early spring to late summer will ensure a safe place for them to undergo these essential stages of their lifecycle.

Most importantly, it is best to avoid broad-spectrum insecticides.

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. More flowers will bring more pollinators, so get started planning your pollinator garden with Al’s growing guide and enjoy a full season of blooms, friendly visitors to your garden, and the satisfaction of knowing you’ve played a role in continuing nature’s perfect pollination cycle.

Now is a great time to get your pollinator garden started. You can find our most popular varieties of 1-gallon Perennials available online for pick up in Sherwood! Shop online here >>>