Show Pollinators Some Love in Your Garden This Summer - Firefly Books Blog

Firefly Books Blog

Show Pollinators Some Love in Your Garden This Summer

  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print
Show Pollinators Some Love in Your Garden This Summer


A Guest Blog for Pollinator Week by Emily Murphy

Climate change, habitat loss, and pesticide use are just a few of the challenges pollinators currently face. Fortunately, there are a number of simple, everyday things we can do to help these creatures and it starts with our gardens.

Grow a Variety of Flowering Plants & Grasses

Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are just 3 of many essential pollinators. Beetles, lizards, bats, and flies along with a host of other insects rank up there as key species. Growing a diverse selection of flowering plants and grasses creates a diverse ecosystem that is more likely to support a range of pollinators.

Planting with diversity in mind also helps bridge the seasons. If you’re growing poppies, chives, and other early, spring flowering plants along with summer, and fall-flowering plants such as sage, aster, and yarrow you’ll have plenty of forage for months on end.

As you can see from this photo, butterflies need flowers with landing pads so they can rest securely while feeding. Many bees also forage from these disk-shaped flowers, though bees forage from a variety of flower shapes and sizes. You’ll see them crawling into tube-shaped flowers, which is as equally a good fit for hummingbirds with their long beaks and tongues.

Many grasses, native plants, and kitchen garden edibles such as dill and fennel are important host plants for butterflies. If you see holes from leaves, be sure to properly ID the culprit (often a caterpillar) before removing. It could be the larva of an important butterfly.

Grow Flowers With Vegetables

Interplant flowers with vegetables to build diversity in your garden. It’s a wonderful way to optimize space and grow companion plants, edible flowers, and the fruits and vegetables you love most.

Replace single crops and groupings of plants such as a raised bed filled solely with tomatoes or squash with a mix of plants. Grow plants such as calendula and herbs in between and along the borders of edibles like tomatoes to confuse and deter pests and invite pollinators. Think of flowers and fragrant herbs as built-in pest control with the added benefit of providing forage for bees and butterflies.

Add Strategic Host Plants to Your Landscape

What is a host plant? Host plants are an essential component of the life cycle of butterflies. It's where adult butterflies lay their eggs and where the larvae or caterpillars feed when they emerge.  

For instance, milkweed is the sole host plant for monarchs and, as monarchs migrate between their summer and winter homes, they require milkweeds to continue reproducing while in route. Adding milkweeds to your landscape is wildly helpful to butterflies like monarchs, and milkweed blooms are popular among all sorts of pollinators such as bees.

But Monarchs aren't the only butterflies. Get to know some of the butterflies native to your region and grow host plants with them in mind.

Plant in Large Swathes or Groups

Animals are creatures of habit. Once they find food in a particular location they're more likely to return, and it's easier for them to find food in the first place if it's not just a single plant or flower but a large patch. Consider placing 2 or 3 of the same plant together or grow groups of the same plant in 3x3 foot swathes.

Go Native

While there are many new, glamorous varieties and hybrids to try it's important not to forget the simple beauty of native plants. They can be just as lovely in the landscape as any new, designer cultivar, they're naturally adapted to regional climates, and many are critical forage and host plants for pollinators.

Grow Herbs & Let Them Go To Flower

If you’re going to grow just one thing, let it be herbs. They're packed with flavour and fragrance, boasting of blooms that peak the imagination, provide 1st level protection from mosquitos, and work away in the background as companion plants and pollinator favourites. How can you not make room for a few thyme plants, oregano, parsley, rosemary, or cilantro?

Ditch the Pesticides & Mulch Carefully

Pesticides are indiscriminate, creating a toxic environment for all creatures. Stories of Colony Collapse Disorder and the steady, drastic decline of monarch butterfly populations reminds us just how fragile our ecosystem truly is and how important it is to live organically and tread lightly.

Just as important to consider are the homes of other living creatures. Many bees are ground nesting, which means its important to leave some of the soil in yards and gardens bare and free of mulch (such as wood chips or gravel). When it rains these bare areas of soil become muddy patches for butterflies to come and drink and take up salts naturally occurring in soils.


Get the book:

 Grow What You Love

in Books Hits: 3609

Author Events   Firefly Books Fall 2021 Catalog PDF