Butterfly and Bee Garden

Butterfly Bee Garden

Cartoon Image of different Garden Pollinators

Tips for Creating a Garden for Pollinators

We rely on pollinators, such as butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, moths, and other creatures to maintain and develop healthy ecosystems. These insects, birds, and even bats are vital for the survival of agricultural crops, wild plants, and your own garden. Creating a garden for pollinators is a great decision because regular visits from these creatures will improve the growth of flowering plants.

 

A pollinator garden will have access to food, shelter, places to rest and breed, and somewhere to raise their offspring.

 

Understanding the Importance of Pollinators in our Garden

Garden for pollinators ladybugs and butterflies on flowers

 

Pollinators transfer pollen from the stamen (male reproductive organs) to the pistil (female reproductive organs) on the same or other plants. The transference enables fertilization which in turn produces fruit, seeds, and nuts in flowering plant species. The pollinator creates the pollen transfer to the same species (cross-pollination) or in the same flower (self-pollination).

8 Pollinator Species That Play an Important Role in Our Ecosystems.

 

1.    Pollination By Bees

 

bee pollinating yellow flower

Bees are probably the best-known and perhaps the most important pollinator species. There are bumblebees, honeybees, and even solitary bees that don’t live in the same social hierarchy. The bees are attracted to the shape, color, and sizes of flowers; they know how to collect the nectar and pollen they need for food.

They have hairy bodies with specialist structures to carry pollen back to their hives to store as food. The hairs also trap the pollen which rubs off as they travel to different flowers which pollinates them.

 

2.    Hummingbirds as Pollinators

 

Hummingbird Getting Nectar from Flower

 

These are prolific pollinators that hover in mid-air to feed on nectar from flowering plants. Their slender beaks are perfectly evolved to reach deep inside the flower to reach the nectar. They are especially attracted to trump-shaped and vividly colored flowers.

 

3.    Butterflies in Your Garden for Pollinators

 

Butterfly in a garden for pollinatorsWhen you create a garden for pollinators, it’s likely that butterflies will be frequent visitors and they may even take up residence. Butterflies are fascinating creatures to observe and as a bonus, they are excellent pollinators. They are primarily attracted to brightly colored flowers that have wider and open blooms.

Butterflies feed on the nectar for energy and transfer the pollen as they move between flowers. A butterfly has a long proboscis (tongue) that can reach deeply into the flower to reach the sugary nectar.

 

4.    How do Moths Pollinate

 

These nocturnal cousins to butterflies tend to be overlooked as efficient pollinators. As you might imagine, they are attracted to flowers that open at night with sweet fragrances. Their feeding habits are similar to butterflies, and they reach the nectar with long proboscises.

 

5.    Do Wasps Pollinate in Your Garden

 

There are some wasp pollinators, but they are less effective than bees, butterflies, and other insects. They enjoy feeding on nectar as food, but they don’t transfer as much pollen as they flit from flower to flower.

 

6.    Do Flies Pollinate

 

Some flies, such as bee flies and hoverflies are good pollinators, but they tend to be attracted to flowers with a decaying or foul odor. They do transfer pollen as they feed on nectar and pollen, but they are not specialized for this task.

 

7.    The Importance of Bats as Pollinators

 

Bats are an important pollinator in areas with desert or tropical climates. They feed on night-blooming flowers that produce a lot of nectar and they have long tongues to reach it. The tongue is coated with pollen which is transferred to the next flower they feed on.

 

8.    Do Beetles Pollinate Your Garden

 

Butterfly and Ladybird on flower

 

These pollinators have been busily increasing plant fertility for millennia. They seek out flowers with strong odors and they tend to feed on pollen only. They are less efficient pollinators than other species on this list, but there are a lot of them and their sheer numbers make up for their lack of efficiency.

 

Garden Design for Pollinators

 

When you’re considering a garden design for pollinators there are three key areas to consider. 

 

1.    Choose the Right Plants for Your Garden

 

You will need a wide variety of annual and perennial native plants to ensure that there are blooms throughout the growing season. Creating a reliable and consistent source of nectar and pollen is essential to attract pollinators. The native plants will be well matched to the needs of the native pollinators.

 

2.    Colors and Fragrances of the Flowers That You Grow in Your Garden

 

It’s a great idea to focus on those native plants that are known pollinator attractors. Choose plants that produce a lot of nectar and pollen with open or shallow flower structures to improve access. Strong leaves and stems are also essential to give the smaller pollinators somewhere to land.

 

3.    Provide Water and Shelter in Your Garden for Pollinators

 

Like any living creature, pollinators need to drink water and it’s important to add some shallow dishes for this purpose. Place some pebbles and rocks in the water to give them somewhere to perch as they drink because smaller insects may drown.

Add a variety of complimentary plants, such as shrubs, small trees, thick ground plants, and more to give the pollinators some shelter.

Smaller insects can be harmed by strong winds and rain if they don’t have somewhere to hide. Include some patches of undisturbed soil, wood piles, dead wood, and other locations where an insect can make a home.

 

Friendly Practices in a Garden for Pollinators

 

hummingbird and pink flowerMost people like a clean and tidy garden free of weeds, but these characteristics are not attractive to most pollinators. If you want to create a garden for pollinators, consider setting part of the outside space aside for them.

Reduce the surface area of the lawn you may have and let part of the garden run wild. Don’t be too fastidious with the removal of plant debris and keep some soil undisturbed to encourage nesting.

Limit or stop using pesticides in your garden because they are harmful to pollinators and other helpful insects. Choose environmentally friendly and organic methods to make the habitat more attractive to pollinators, and predatory and prey insects.

 

Maintenance and Care of Your Garden for Pollinators

 

There are three maintenance and care habits that will make your garden more attractive for pollinator species:

 

1/ Pruning and Weeding of the Garden

 

Manually remove weeds from the garden to remove competition with flowering plants that encourage pollinators to live in your garden. This will improve access to sunshine, water, and nutrients that will make the plants healthy.

Spent flowers should be removed (deadheading) to encourage the plant to bloom continuously and stimulate new growth. During deadheading, the formation of seeds is prevented and this can direct the energy of the plant towards new flower production which keeps pollinators happy. Plants can be pruned regularly to encourage healthy growth, reduce disease and improve air circulation.

 

2/ Watering Your Garden

 

Watering the Garden

 

The garden must have sufficient water for the plants and the pollinators too. The garden needs to be monitored and watered regularly during dry periods or you could install a drip irrigation system to improve efficiency and prevent runoff. The soil should be moist and the pollinator drinking areas need to be topped up regularly.

 

Creating a Garden for Pollinators- In Conclusion

 

Pollinators are essential for plant reproduction, food production, ecosystem stability, habitat restoration, biodiversity, and genetic diversity. So, it makes good sense to install a garden for pollinators in your garden.

 

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