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Flowers, Fruits, and Frass

Local and statewide information on a variety of current topics for home gardeners and market growers.

Pollinator Gardens

Posted by Kelly Allsup - Bugs

October 29, 2012

News source: Kelly Allsup, 309-663-8306,

News writer:

Pollinator Gardens

URBANA -- University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Educator, Kelly Allsup, encourages gardeners to plant native perennials and herbs in their garden next spring with the intention of attracting more pollinators. Giving your gardens and landscapes dual purposes can bring forth the wonder of nature's pollinators in addition to beautiful flowers and fruits.

Bumble bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and some birds are essential in the pollination of many plants. Cucumbers, raspberries, squash, watermelon and sunflowers require the presence of pollinators to form viable fruit. During the garden planning process for next year's garden, decide to take steps to create a place for the pollinators.

Pollinator gardens contain native perennials like the aromatic anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), drought tolerant coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora), spring blooming wild indigo (Baptisia australis) and the white flowering foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis). Native insects have evolved with native plants and therefore prefer them over other ornamental plants.

Pollinator gardeners incorporate flowering herbs like lavender, marjoram, oregano, thyme, chives, fennel and parsley. Herbs aroma and consistent flowering make them attractive to pollinators. Herbs also provide nectar and pollen sources for beneficial insects and wasps.

"Provide pollen and nectar sources all throughout the growing season by planting perennials, herbs and ornamentals that flower at different times," said Allsup.

Plant flowers of different colors and opposing shapes in the pollinator garden. Butterflies are attracted to orange, red and yellow and require the flower to provide a landing platform. Bees are attracted to blue, yellow and white and can see ultra violet markings called nectar guides leading them to the source of nectar and pollen. Hummingbirds prefer plants with long tubular flowers in shades of red.

Allsup urges gardeners to establish a source of water for pollinators, birds and other wildlife with a decorative bird bath.

Do not spray pesticides on pollinator gardens and surrounding areas. Accepting some insect damage, utilizing organic pesticides and altering cultural practices can be utilized rather than using traditional chemical pesticides.

Photo Provided by Dee Frautschi

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