Pollinators are critical to our environment.
For the fruit and seeds of plants to develop, pollen has to be transferred between two flowers of the same species which fertilizes it and enables the production of seeds. This is the work of pollinators. Without them, there would be no seed production and plants could not naturally reproduce. It is estimated that at least a third of the crops grown for food in the United States require pollination, and 80 percent of all flowering plants rely on pollinators for survival.
Honeybees are probably the most well-known pollinators. These little buggers are responsible for the production of more than $19 billion in food crops each year. But they don’t go it alone; bats, birds, ants, beetles, flies, butterflies, moths, wasps, and even small mammals are all pollinators.
Today there are serious threats to pollinators and their habitats.
As native vegetation is replaced by roadways, manicured lawns, crops and non-native gardens, pollinators lose the food and nesting sites that are necessary for their survival. Many pollinators are migratory – and increased development means they have to travel further and further to reach their destination, putting enormous stress on the pollinator and in cases, threatening their survival.
We can take steps in our own yards, gardens, and neighborhoods, to create pollinator-friendly habitats, which can help to enable and sustain healthy populations of these critters that are crucial to our own survival.
A pollinator garden can be grown just about anywhere – from pots and flower boxes, to flowerbeds and meadows. Pollinators are attracted to flowers by their color and scent, not by where they are planted.
And don’t forget trees and shrubs – like maples, redbuds, roses and crape myrtles.
Pollinators need water for survival and providing a source of water for them in your yard means they don’t have to travel as far to get a drink. A bird bath or dish of water set in a shady area is all that’s needed.
Ready to throw a pollinator party? Here’s some suggestions of trees, shrubs and flowers that do well in our area.
Trees and shrubs:
Blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries
Perennials and Annual Flowers:
Black Eye Susan
Mint (best planted in a container!)