Make your yard a haven for our beloved pollinators

Story and Photos by Jennifer Williams

Pollinators – one of the latest gardening buzzwords. The decline of pollinators worldwide, and the many effects of this decline, is in the forefront of the minds of scientists, farmers, and gardeners. Planting even a small corner of your home landscape to encourage pollinators can aid the cause.

The first and most important aspect of any pollinator garden is a food source: plant material that provides nectar. Another consideration is protection – for safe nesting and from excessive wind. And a source of water should be incorporated.

The plan above can be modified to fit your location.

1 Passion vine (Passiflora incarnata), space 5-10 feet apart with a strong support.

2 Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), space 15-18 inches apart. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) is the primary food source of monarch butterfly larvae.

3 ‘Whirling Butterflies’ gaura (Oenothera lindheimeri, syn. G. lindheimeri) As the name implies, this beauty has wispy flowers shaped like butterflies atop 2-3-foot tall stems.

Salvia is great for pollinators. The showstopping S. guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ attracts both butterflies and bees.

5 Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) Space 12-18 inches apart depending on variety. A classic beauty – to add extra zing, choose a variety with stunning pink or orange flowers.

6 Dahlia plants add a great punch of color as well as a great source of nectar.

7 ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta racemosa ‘Walker’s Low’). A mounding form covered in delicate lilac flower spikes that reaches 1-2 feet tall with a 2-foot spread.

8 Common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) comes in a variety of colors and is excellent at attracting pollinators. It keeps its silvery green mound foliage through warmer winters.

9 Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ An easy-care perennial (tender perennial in Zone 6, add some extra mulch for winter protection or treat as an annual) with deep green foliage and bright purple flowers. Perfect for the edge of a bed, this plant is popular with butterflies and hummingbirds alike.

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