Pollinator Pals

Pollinators are necessary not only for fertilizing flowers for fruits and nuts production, but are also needed to ensure species survival.  Most people recognize that bees are important pollinators, but many species of butterflies, bats, birds, moths, flies and even mammals are also pollinators.  These plant pals work hard for the planet and need flower nectar (carbohydrate flight fuel), and pollen (a source of protein or food) to survive.

BEES like … Yellow, pink, blue, purple flowers. There are hundreds of types of bees that come in a variety of sizes and have a range of flower preferences. Although they can’t see red, they are attracted to some red flowers, such as bee balm, that reflect ultraviolet light. Small bees, which have short tongues, prefer packed clusters of tiny flowers (e.g., marigold, daisy, butterfly weed, aromatic herbs).

BUTTERFLIES like … Red, orange, yellow, pink, blue flowers. They need a landing pad before feeding, so plant flat-topped clusters (e.g., zinnia, calendula, butterfly weed, yarrow, daisy) in a sunny location. They also need food sources for larvae and places to lay eggs, such as milkweed (not tropical types), aster, lupine, thistle, fennel, violets, hollyhock, and black-eyed Susan.

HUMMING BIRDS like… Red, orange, purple/red tubular flowers with lots of nectar (e.g., honeysuckle, sage, fuchsia, jewelweed, fireweed, cardinal flower, bee balm, nasturtium, century plant). No landing areas are needed since they hover while feeding.


MOTHS like … light-colored flowers that open at dusk such as evening primrose.

POLLINATING BEETLES like … wide-open flowers, such as aster, sunflower, rose, and butterfly weed.

FLIES(!) like … green, white, or cream flowers. They have short tongues, so prefer simple-bowl shapes.

TIP:  Container gardens provide a great site for a pollinator picnic!  Move the containers around so you can watch your birds and butterflies from your window, or to temporarily distance bee-attracting plants from patio diners.

The greater variety of plant types you have, the more pollinators you’ll attract.  Maintaining diversity will turn your garden into a full-service oasis!

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