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Encouraging natural pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds will help your garden thrive. These insects are important components of the ecosystem because they are necessary for plant reproduction. These pollinators also produce food for other species of animals, and are a necessary component in their nutrition. Birds, for example, feed on caterpillars and bears depend on the honey made by bees. To encourage natural pollinators in your garden this year, follow these tips:
1. Plant Natives: Natve species of bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are already adjusted to the native species of plants that grow in our region. Not only do natives provide important habitat to our local ecosystem, but they also provide food. Oregon Grapes (Mahonia) and Sweetshrubs (Calycanthus) are both excellent for attracting pollinators. Shop our natives
2. Plant color: Different species of birds and insects are attracted to different scents and colors. For example, hummingbirds are notorious for being attracted to the color red, while bees and butterflies love yellow flowers like sunflowers and black eyed susans. Use our bloom calendar to determine what is blooming when. We should also note that there is science showing color preferences amongst pollinators, but according to audubon.org, it is the VARIETY that makes a difference for hummingbirds, more so than the color. Read more here: https://www.audubon.org/news/hummingbirds-see-red
3. Avoid Pesticides: Many pesticides and herbicides are harmful to pollinating insects like bees. Choose organic products which are less toxic to the environment, and be sure to always read the label to determine if your products are safe for insects! You should also consider merely timing your treatments for early in the day before insects are out.
4. Plant Variety: Keep in mind that many natural pollinators look for gardens that have an area to nest. Butterflies, for example, prefer areas where there is food for both butterflies AND caterpillars. Many bee populations prefer to nest in the ground in areas of bare soil, but hummingbirds prefer high perches in order to watch for predators.
5. Bee Patient: It may take awhile for the pollinators to find you. Conditions like weather can make a difference as well. Adding items like hummingbird feeders and bee houses around your garden can help expedite this process.
Now is the perfect time to start cultivating your pollinator-friendly garden! As the weather continues to warm, these birds and insects will be searching for a place to call home!