Bees and butterflies have it pretty rough these days. Cities cover huge swathes of land with relatively few places for them to feed, and farmland has gotten so efficient at removing weeds, there are almost none of their native foods left. When you add in the pesticides that kill both harmful pests and the pollinators too, it’s no surprise that so many of our friendly insects are threatened or endangered.
When National Geographic asked its facebook followers what species they would save if they could only save one, most people chose bees. It’s a practical choice. Without our pollinators, most of our food supply would simply disappear.
If you care about bees and butterflies, there’s something you can do today to help them thrive. Including a pocket garden in your landscaping, on a patio, or even in a window box can be a welcome oasis to struggling pollinators.
The bee conservancy recommends planting at least three different species of flower in the garden, so that bees and butterflies have blooms to choose from through spring, summer and fall. They also recommend staying away from double blooms, which pollinators may have difficulty accessing, and hybrids, which may not have a lot of nectar.
Pollinator friendly options include:
- Crocus, Snowdrops, Hyacinth, Borage, and Calendula are all great spring flower options. Snowdrops can be planted in shady areas, making them a practical solution for normally difficult planting spots. If you prefer to get something from your garden, planting a fruit tree can provide plenty of food for you and pollinators too.
- Common Yarrow, Blue Giant Hyssop, and Horsemint are all native to North America, and make great summer plants. Echinacea and bee balm are also popular options. If you’d like a summer flower that’s also edible, consider sunflowers.
- Finally during fall, zinnias, pineapple sage, asters, witch hazel and goldenrod will keep their tummies full all the way until time for winter.
Even if you just plant a few flowers to help out, you’ll be adding important food for these insects. If all else fails, putting out a pot of milkweed for the monarch is also an option that will please both bees and butterflies alike. Milkweed is the primary food of monarchs, and the number of these important plants are dwindling due to the plant being viewed as a weed to farmers and gardeners.
Our bees and butterflies need our help to continue thriving in a crowded world. Give them the chance they need with a pocket garden all their very own.