Organic Gardening

How do I attract pollinators to my garden?

shutterstock_450111220Tending to your own garden could sometimes get difficult, especially when you want to keep your garden as organic and as close to nature as possible. With gardening comes being able to sustain the ecosystem that plants need in order to thrive. In that ecosystem, pollinating is important.

Pollinators belong to the many beings that may frequent your garden. This includes bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and many more. These pollinators usually visit farms and gardens because they are looking for shelter, water, food and nesting areas. The relationship between plants and pollinators is a symbiotic one. This means thatwhile the birds and the bees are looking to fill their needs, plants actually benefit from them too. With the pollinators, plants are helped in pollination as they carry pollen with them from one plant to another, allowing plants to reproduce and bear fruit.

The reason why this mechanism is deemed with such importance is because almost all plant species depend on pollination in order to survive. Without pollination, almost one third of all human food sources will get wiped away. This takes away the cabbage, blueberries, watermelons, coconuts and many other fruits and vegetables we love. Without pollination, growing the herbs and greens needed to feed our cows and other sources of meant would not be possible. Having them in your garden would mean wonders for your plants, as they also serve as good indicators of a healthy environment. So now the question stands: how do you attract pollinators to your garden?

There are many ways to make your garden more attractive to pollinators. For example, examining the visual cues that your plants send can help. These include examining the colors, sizes, and shapes of your flowers. You can also begin examining the food available, scents, and the entrapments that can potentially attract the pollinators you want. To be more specific, there are five ways you can easily ensure that your garden will be populated with pollinators.

The first is by filling your garden with flowers rich with pollen and plant nectar. These can take the form of wildflowers or other more traditional types of flowers. Various flowers have different seasons, so it’s suggested that you have a string of those that bloom annually. You want those that last through whatever season, as well as shrubs so that the nectar will be available during the entire growing season. There is no limit or minimum to the size of your garden. Pollinators can get attracted to gardens, no matter the size, so long as the flowers with the right amount of plant nectar and pollen are present.

The second tip is to ensure that everything you use in your garden is one hundred percent natural and organic. You would definitely need to invest in and use pesticides to keep the unwanted invaders away. Regardless, one must note that many pesticides are harmful to bees and other pollinators. In particular, pesticides that promise immediate results are those that may seem like they are effective in the short-run. You may think you’re keeping your plants safe, but it might actually fostering a toxic environment in the long haul. This also affects everyone in your household, not just your plants. You, your family, your pets may suffer from the effects of toxic pesticides as well. With that said, using pesticides and fertilizers that are completely organic your best bet. It surely doesn’t hurt pollinators either.

By using organic gardening products (or making your own), you would have protected your garden from pests and diseases in a natural way. This doesn’t risk harming the organisms beneficial to your growing plants. Make sure to not use pesticides on open blossoms or when the pollinators are in the area.

Aside from filling your garden with pollinator-attracting flowers and making use of organic products, it’s also attractive for pollinators if you are able to provide shelter for them in your garden. These insects and other pollinators need a place to stay in order to survive their predators. This also helps to create a nest where they can take care of their young. For example, you can create a space in your garden for ground-nesting bees where they can find shelter by growing one area wild. You can also use grass cuttings or a decomposing log in the sun as a shelter for the pollinators. In the market, artificial nesting boxes are sold to help you attract pollinators to your garden too.

With shelter comes food and water, so make sure to provide that for your pollinators. You can add feeders that will surely attract the pollinators you want. You can also install a catch basin for rainwater where birds and insects can drink from.

Lastly, keep in mind that a variety of pollinators also means a variety of plants that attract those pollinators. Butterflies, for example, are attracted to Alyssum, Marigold, Oregano, Sage, Hollyhock, Lavender, and many more. Meanwhile, the same can’t be said for caterpillars. None of the flowers that attract butterflies attract them. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, are attracted by flowers like the Butterfly weed, Canna, Lily, Petunia, Foxglove, Fuchsia, Geranium, Cardinal Flower, Dahlia, and more. Bees are attracted to Wallflower, Poppy, Rosemary, Sage, Bergamot, Bee balm, Basil, and Aster, among others.

Make sure to avoid hybrid flowers in your garden.  These don’t attract pollinators. Your garden doesn’t have to be beautifully blooming with just flowers either. Leaving dead trees or a dead tree limb every once in a while, pollinators get attracted to your garden because this is a prime nesting site for them. Building a place for bees by drilling holes in scrap lumber is attractive for them, while butterflies are attracted by moist animal droppings and rotten fruit. Something as simple as an old banana lying around in your house is actually effective in attracting butterflies.

This is not to say that these tips are the only things you need to keep in mind when attracting pollinators to your garden. It’s always handy to keep in mind that different pollinators have different ways of getting attracted. Learning more about them (by asking professionals, your gardener friends, or even consulting expert websites) will be a very effective way of learning more about how to attract them to your garden.

 

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