My Milkweed Brings All the Bees to the Yard: Building a Pollinator Garden
Sorry Kelis, but bringing all the boys to the yard seems a bit ambitious. A much more reasonable goal would be to bring all the bees, butterflies, and birds to the yard—no milkshakes required. All you have to do is plant a pollinator garden! Attracting pollinators to your garden brings some major benefits—and who wouldn’t love the picturesque scenery of beautiful wildlife fluttering through the flowers? Here’s how you can plant your pollinator garden and all the amazing positive effects it will have!
The Benefits of Pollinator Gardens
Sure, they’re gorgeous and all, but there are plenty of other reasons why you should plant a pollinator garden. Mother Nature will be very thankful—just saying!
Pollinator Gardens Support Our Local Ecosystems
Bees, butterflies, and birds play critical roles in maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. Pesticide use and habitat destruction have led to significant wildlife population declines, so we must create spaces where they will thrive.
Agriculture Depends on Pollinator Populations
We need pollinators to pollinate our fruits and veggies! If you’re growing an edible garden, planting pollinator-friendly species near your fruits and vegetable plants will help increase your yields. Plus, since you’re helping sustain these wildlife populations, you’re helping support agriculture across New York—not just in your own backyard!
It Helps Manage Pests in Your Garden
Birds love flower nectar, but they also love bugs! If birds are attracted to your yard, they’ll happily snack on any aphids, mites, slugs, or other annoying pests that they find along the way.
5 Ideas for Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden
So, what’s the secret to bringing all the bees, butterflies, and birds to the yard? Well, there are five main principles to follow, and if you combine all of the following approaches, your odds of success will increase! Here’s how to get started.
Plant Native Species
Local wildlife prefers the plants that remind them of home—they like stuff that they recognize! The best part is that they’re so easy to care for because they’ve naturally adapted to our climate. Here are some native species of New York that you can plant:
- Irises: An early spring-blooming bulb with beautiful petals.
- Phlox: Clusters of colorful blooms with a sweet scent that butterflies can’t resist.
- Common Milkweed: The primary food for Monarch butterfly caterpillars, whose populations have declined over the past few decades. More gardeners are planting milkweed to support the butterflies, and we’ve seen a recent spike in populations thanks to their combined efforts!
- Bee Balm: Distinctive flower heads that resemble bursts of fireworks, with fragrant blue-green foliage. Plant red flowering varieties to attract the most hummingbirds!
- Rosa Rugosa: A salt-tolerant, drought-tolerant shrub with candy-pink blooms—perfect for coastal properties.
- Coneflower (Echinacea): Healing for both you and your garden, with beautiful daisy blooms that smell like vanilla.
- Giant Blue Sage: Aromatic foliage and blue tubular flowers draw plenty of wildlife with their magnificent aroma.
- Black-Eyed Susan: Classic daisy-like flowers with a brown disk are the perfect wildflower that pollinators love.
While we recommend native species, some non-native plants have shown great success in attracting pollinators. These include:
- Daylilies: Low-maintenance perennial bulbs that are extremely resistant to city pollution, so they’re perfect for city living.
- Sage: A fragrant culinary herb that hails from the Mediterranean.
- Lavender: A soothing, aromatic flowering herb that fills the landscape with a dreamy purple hue.
Some annuals you can include in your garden to attract pollinators are:
- Lantana: Clusters of brightly colored blooms that are sure to attract bees and butterflies alike.
- Cosmos: Romantic, slender-stemmed flowers that are irresistible.
- Zinnias: A stunning plant with dense flower heads that will draw pollinators with their gorgeous colors.
- Petunias: Trumpet-like flowers that are a favorite for summertime—the bees will agree!
For pollinator-friendly shrubs, consider:
- Azaleas: Covered in bright pink and purple funnel-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring.
- Rhododendrons: The evergreen cousin to Azaleas with bell-shaped flowers that form in clusters.
There are plenty of other native species you can grow for pollinator gardens on Long Island, so feel free to visit Dees’ Nursery and ask us for some more recommendations!
Use Organic Insecticides
Most chemical pesticides don’t discern between the good bugs and the bad bugs, so using them in your garden can be detrimental to bee and butterfly populations. If you need to use something for pest control, opt for natural solutions like insecticidal soap or neem oil—they spare the good guys and eliminate the bad guys!
Add a Water Source
They don’t need eight glasses a day like us, but they still need some water! Birdbaths, fountains, and ponds will ensure you have a water source in your yard, so local wildlife won’t have to search elsewhere.
Birdhouses and Bee Hotels
Provide shelter for your pollinating pals by setting up a birdhouse or a bee hotel. You can purchase one from the garden center, or you can build your own—there are plenty of cute DIY tutorials online!
Hang Bird Feeders
Bird feeders with seeds and nuts will help attract plenty of different pretty wild birds, who also love to snack on the nectar from your flowers. If you want to attract hummingbirds, purchase a red hummingbird feeder (it’s their favorite color!) and fill it with a natural nectar formula free of chemical dyes.
Start your pollinator garden this spring by visiting Dees’ Nursery! Stock up on native flowers, bug-friendly products, and all the other supplies you need to bring the bees to the yard.