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How To Create A Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

If you’ve ever grown a garden that produced delicious fruits or vegetables, or beautiful and fragrant flowers, then you have benefited from the work of pollinators.

Bees, butterflies, moths, and birds pick up pollen from one flower, and deposit it on another flower, not only pollinating that flower, but also adding important genetic diversity to the plants. An estimated 75% of flowering plants (including many of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts) depend on the work of pollinators!

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Unfortunately, many species of pollinators are currently experiencing a decline in population. Bees are the main pollinator for many areas of the world, and many species of bees (including honey bees) are experiencing population declines at a rapid rate. This not only affects our gardens and our food supply, it represents a threat to entire ecosystems.

As you can see, it’s more important than ever to have a yard or garden that is friendly to pollinators. Having a “pollinator-friendly” garden can provide food and shelter for these threatened species, which will benefit not only your own garden, but yards and gardens for miles around.

Here are some simple ways to make your outdoor space a safe haven for pollinators:

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Plant different varieties of plants that blossom at different times of the year, to ensure a steady food source for pollinators. Fruit trees bloom in the spring, while other plants flower in the heat of summer. I like to fill my yard with a variety of perennials to ensure that something is always blooming!

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Plant flowers of various shapes and sizes to attract a variety of species of bees. Smaller bees have shorter tongues, so they’ll favor shallower flowers, while larger bees can feed from deeper blooms.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Plant different varieties of flowers in groups, rather than planting them far apart. This creates a sort of “flower buffet,” allowing pollinators to feed off a variety of plants in the same area. An easy way to do this is to grab a bag of wildflower seed.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Plant native plants that are well-suited to your area’s climate, soil type, and its native pollinators. Not only will they be easier to grow, but they’ll appeal to the local pollinators. PlantNative has a great search tool to help you discover what plants are native to your region.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Plant a selection of night-blooming flowers, like Evening Primrose and Moonflowers, which provide a food source for nocturnal pollinators like moths and bats.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Steer clear of certain hybrids bred to produce “double flowers.” These plants have been bred for their impressive, colorful appearance, but they produce very little fragrance, nectar, or pollen.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Don’t forget the caterpillars. In order to attract and support butterflies in your yard, you also have to support caterpillars. Many varieties of caterpillars love milkweed, sunflowers, and clover. But remember, caterpillars eat leaves, so prepare to see some holes!

Pollinator-Friendly Garden

  • Attract hummingbirds by putting out a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds are particularly attracted to red, so choosing a red feeder like this one can help attract them to your yard. Fill the feeder with a solution of one part table sugar to 4 parts water, boiled and cooled. Fill it with just enough solution for a few days of use at a time, and wash the feeder thoroughly with warm, soapy water at least once a week.

For a complete guide on growing a pollinator-friendly garden in your area, visit Pollinator.org. You can also contact your local University Extension Office for advice on native plants and native pollinators.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden


Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Pollinators needs a place to winter over. Always have a bundle of sticks in a corner of the yard for protection and breeding!

    In hot Summers a shallow dish of water for butterflies is very helpful.

    Put up a bat house, painted black to absorb heat, at the highest point of a Southwest facing tree, barn, or house. It’s free insect control and added pollinators.

  • Great idea! Bees and other pollinators can safely enjoy our garden flowers – as long as we don’t use pesticides and herbicides. These substances are what’s causing the decline in the first place, largely the result of agricultural use. The companies that produce these chemicals get their profit from developing ever more versions of these insect killers, and we are starting to see the consequences. Please, everyone, start to buy fruit and vegetables that are grown naturally – “organically” – which our grandparents grew up on and nobody considered special or posh. They cost a bit more, but they don’t cost the earth! Buy fewer takeouts and ready-meals and you won’t break your budget. We need to nurture Nature!

    • Thank you, Cynthia Games, for the link to make a Bee B&B. I have it on my list of things to add to the garden!

      And thanks also to Jillee for calling attention to such an important group of insects and their needs in our gardens.

  • Great ideas but the only way to ensure our pollinators continue on is to buy organic seeds and flowers. Anything other than organic are treated with neonicitinoids which is causing their massive decline in the first place. Pesticides kill all insects, including bees and butterflies, not just the unwanted ones.

  • Love this advice, Jillee! I’m in the process of planting my first pollinator garden this year and I’ve learned that bees can see ultraviolet and love large swathes of color (put all the yellow flowers together, all the blue, etc.). They also like to have some flat leaf flowers for resting like petunias (like little landing pads) and cup shaped for drinking (maybe snapdragons). Your article taught me a lot of great new info to incorporate into my garden!

  • This is a good article and great comments. I recently heard a recommendation that I will call the Rule of 3’s. Plant 3 different species with at least 3 plants each. Repeat this so that you have 3 seasons of blooms. So 9 plants that are 3 different species for spring, summer, and fall. I hope that makes sense.

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