The Rules – Encouraging Pollinators
Pollinators: Many animals help pollinate our plants, which gives us fruits, vegetables and seeds. Not only does this help fill our bellies, but it also provides many other animals with food and habitat. Pollinators themselves also form a large part of diets for other animals, such as birds. We all know how important pollinators can be, so how can we help them? How can we encourage pollinators to visit our gardens?
Following on from our Gardens for Wildlife Talk, Carol helps us encourage pollinators to our gardens…
- Grow plants with lots of flowers. Grasses are often used by breeding butterflies and moths.
- Bee bountiful – Grow plants in large blocks, rather than scattered for better foraging efficiency, saving bee’s energy
- Bee showy – Make sure there is something in flower all year from Spring (hellebores, pulmonarias, aubretia, cherries, Mahonia) to Autumn (Hylotelephium spectabile, Michelmas daisies, ivy)
- Plant in warm, sheltered spots, with a sunny aspect
- Bee diverse – plant a diversity of flowering species with abundant pollen and nectar. Observe what attracts pollinators and grow more of the same
- Plant specific plants for feeding butterfly and moth caterpillars
- Grow a good mix of flower types: Open and flat for beetles and hoverflies e.g. fennel, saxifrages, geranium; tubular and harder for large bees and long-tongued insects e.g. foxgloves, campanulas, antirrhinums, salvias, broom, buddleia; nightscented for moths, e.g. nicotiana and lonicera
- Grow plants with a long flowering season e.g. fuschias, lavender, rosemary, Abelia, Potentilla fruticosa, Hypericum ‘Hidcote’
- Avoid plants with double or otherwise highly modified flowers
- Provide habitat for all stages of the pollinator’s life cycle and needs e.g. bare ground for miner bees, windbreaks, hedges, walls, water etc. Create connecting corridors to encourage movement along
- Bee chemical-free – pesticides and herbicides kill pollinators
- The nearer the plant is in its general form to its ‘wild’ species, the more attractive it is to bees and other insects.
Bee patient – it takes time for pollinators to find your garden, especially if you are not near other complementary habitats
Remember it’s not just bees who pollinate – butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, hoverflies and even wasps are also fabulous pollinators!
By Carol Stone