Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Two of the best pollinators that are easily accessible are bees and butterflies. Attracting them to your growing area takes careful planning. Here are a few steps to walk through as you begin the process of bringing more pollinators to your growing environment.
STEP 1: When to Plant
Pollinators need food from early spring through late fall, so plant your seeds in late fall. You can also buy a plant depending on your timeline and budget. Seeds are cheaper, but you will need to prepare more in advance. If you're on a time crunch and have the budget you can always buy plants pre-grown.
STEP2: Where Do You Live
When deciding what to plants you should buy, you need to consider where you live. Not all plants thrive in every environment and it's always nice to use native plants when possible. You can always call your local seed company to see what grows best in your area. If you live in the East Tennessee region, then don’t worry we've already done the work for you.
A few of the native pollinator plants to the Appalachian region are the varieties of Milkweeds such as showy, butterfly, and whorled. Additionally, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and sneezedweed, common and purple-headed, work well in the east TN area. On the farm, we typically use a combination of sunflowers and marigold. We would highly recommend using perennials so that you don’t have to replant every year.
STEP3: What Do You Want to Attract
When you are considering what plants to put into your pollinator station, it's always a good idea to consider what they might attract. Here are some general guide lines for what each pollinator prefers:
Bees: prefer yellow, blue, and purple flowers with lots of nectar and a sweet smell
Ex. Sunflowers, Wild Quinine Parthenium Integrifolium, Calament Nepeta, Lavender Hyssop
Butterflies: Prefer brightly colored flowers such as red, orange, yellow, pink and blue with a flat landing pad.
Ex: Marigold, Coneflower, Black-Eyed Susan
Moths: Prefer white or pale flowers which sweet smells and lots of nectar
Ex: Flowering Tobacco, Evening Primrose, Moonflower, and Foxglove
(Moths may be one of the most under appreciated pollinators but should be considered when putting in a pollinator station because the diligently work through the night.)
STEP4: Where to plant
As you may have heard in any home improvement tv show, it's all about location, location, location. The same applies to a pollination station. You want a place that has plenty of sunlight, but also is not too far from some heavy vegetation where your pollinators can hide and grow. Your pollinators are also looking for a decent wind break and a place where they don’t have to worry about predators too much. Keeping your station near some bushes provides the pollinators with a place to take shelter and hide.
STEP5: SAVE THE WORLD
There has been a massive decline in pollinators over the past several decades. Creating your own little pollinator heaven is your way to help save the world. Once you've got your garden set up we would like to encourage you to register your garden with the Pollinator Partnership. Join the million pollinator garden challenge and put your garden on the map.