How to Attract Pollinators to Your Organic Garden
Is there anything better than snacking on a handful of just-picked blueberries or eating the first fresh tomato pie of the season? But sometimes things don't go as planned. Your plants create tons of blooms, but they don't turn into anything. So what's the deal? Chances are, your garden is in need of some pollinators.
Quick review: Pollination occurs when pollen from the male flower part is moved to the female flower part (either on the same plant or between two plants of the same species), resulting in fruit (and more seeds). While some plants can make the magic happen without help, most need a little matchmaking action in the form of a pollinator, such as a moth, wasp, bee, ant, beetle, butterfly, or hummingbird.
So how do you get these VIPs (Very Important Pollinators) to hang out in your organic garden? Simple: Create a pollinator haven. To do that, you need to provide the three things every pollinator looks for: food, water, and shelter.
When pollinators come to your organic garden, they're looking for nectar to fill their bellies - the whole pollen transfer thing is just a lucky side effect that happens as they journey from flower to flower. Here's how to make sure they get all the nectar they need:
- Choose a variety of plants native to your region that bloom at different times during the year. Plant them in clumps, so they're easy for your little visitors to spot.
- Plant blooms that boast different colors, shapes, and heights, so they'll draw a variety of pollinators.
- Add some night blooming specimens, like moonflower vines (easy to grow from seed), to your collection to draw nocturnal pollinators. (Plus, they look incredibly cool lit by fairy lights for an evening pool party.)
- Plant some milkweed. Really. Despite its unfortunate name, milkweed is the only thing baby Monarch butterflies will eat. (It's pretty, too.)
- Plant all these blooming beauties in the kind of rich, organic soil that will keep them thriving: Nature's Care® Organic Garden Soil. Then a month after planting, feed your plants with Nature's Care® Organic & Natural Vegetable, Fruit & Flower Food so they can keep feeding all those pollinators.
- Adding some flowering herbs to your garden? Start with organic herbs from Bonnie Plants® so they'll flower that much sooner than if you were to start from seed. Why keep the pollinators waiting?
All wildlife needs water, even the little guys. A shallow bowl filled with small stones and water allows them to drink without drowning.
Pollinators need a place to crash, too. If possible, leave dead trees or limbs in your garden to serve as nesting sites for native bees (not the sting-happy kind). You can also add a bee condo or bat house; you'll find them for sale at craft fairs, farmers' markets, and garden centers. For birds, add scraps or cotton, yarn, or string to a hanging basket to serve as nesting materials.
And voila! You've created an awesome pollinator habitat. You help them, they help you - it's a small price to pay for a great harvest, don't you think?