Attracting a variety of pollinators adds a lively dimension to your garden and supports a more sustainable approach in landscaping. As this video taken from a quick morning visit in a pollinator friendly garden shows, some perennials are real pollinator favorites.
Mondarda fistulosa 'Clare Grace'. Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' and 'Ruby Star', Asclepias tuberosa, Asclepias incarnata & Agastache 'Blue Boa' are steeling the show here now. Later blooming plants, such as Vernonia, Aster and Solidago, will carry the show through the fall.
These are stunning perennials for our eyes too. Adding colorful nectar plants is important, but providing nesting sites and food for growing caterpillars is equally important. If you have tried to attract Monarch butterflies, you probably know that their caterpillars can only feed on Milkweed (Asclepias) plants. Native trees, such as Oak, Ash, Hickory, Maple, Amelanchier and Flowering Dogwood, and native shrubs such as Blueberry, Viburnum and Grey Dogwood are valuable larval hosts for other pollinators in the garden shown in this video. Native grasses such as Sporobolus, Deschampsia & Schizachyrium host the skipper butterfly in this video, and also provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds, mammals and other overwintering insects.
Native plants are the number one key to creating successful pollinator habitat. When choosing plant varieties, be aware that pollinators prefer flowers that most resemble their native species, for example single flowers are preferable to double ones, and unusual colors might be less appealing.
Another important aspect of landscaping for pollinators is maintenance. Removing all plant material and leaf litter in the fall also removes many overwintering insects. The Hummingbird Clearwing moth shown in this video spends the cold months as a cocoon in the leaf litter, and emerges in the late spring or early summer. The longer you can wait to clean up your yard the better for pollinators. At the very least, consider leaving some areas a little messy. And it should go without saying, avoid pesticides of any sort. Birds, butterflies and other pollinators will have a better chance of surviving if we remember their landscaping needs too.
Rue Sherwood Landscape Design creates custom gardens and landscapes throughout the North Shore, from design through installation. Learn more about our services and explore our gallery of projects to see some of our recent work. Contact us to help you design a pollinator-friendly landscape.