Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gardening for Pollinators by Tina Ligon

Sunflowers are a great attractant to pollinators

We are almost a month past the winter solstice and I am starting to notice the few extra minutes of daylight. Even though this is our coldest time of the winter, those days of sunny weather have me dreaming of gardening. I have gone through the seed catalogs and started plotting garden spaces. I have also been reading up on pollinators and ways to attrach them to your gardens and yard.

One thing I have read that I really hadn't thought about, is to be sure to plant groupings of the plants you are using to attract them. The pollinators have mostly an aerial view of your yard and are not as likely to notice a single flower. So I looked out from my deck and tried to imagine the yard through the eyes of pollinators and realized I could make some big improvements. They are not as likely to notice isolated shade plantings underneath trees. So if you have a great shade area be sure to have some plantings to lead them into the area, a pollinator highway sign of sorts.

Pollinators are more than just bees

There are several good sources for what plants are good attractants. Native plants are always a good place to start and there is a great list included in this CSU Extension publication,

One of the larger pollinators, a hummingbird on a bean blossom

Listed below are just a few other articles that I have checked out and there are plenty more if you want to do some research. Just one word of caution, always check any suggested plant lists against the noxious weed lists for your area. What is a noxious weed in your area may not be in another area. Also, if you know a plant to be a bit of a bully in your area but it is popular with the pollinators then you may want to contain it. A plant that comes to mind is dandelions. They are a great resource for the pollinators because they bloom early and often. However, you may not want them to take over your yard. Here is a good spot to mention that the use of pesticides is also a big deterrent to pollinators. Happy garden planning!

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