Julie Kuehl

When it comes to bees, what’s all the buzz about? Since there are fewer bees around, that means I won’t get stung- right? Wrong. Fewer bees mean fewer pollinators. Fewer pollinators mean our food source could be in jeopardy. We often hear about the Eco Chain and how important it is to survival. The pollinators are small but a very vital part of that chain. So, what can you do? Simple. Keep their food source as pesticide free as possible.

One question I received was from a gentleman who wanted to know how to start a pollinator garden. So here goes.

Start with a sunny location (6 hours a day) and then fill it with all kinds of bright, pollinator friendly plants and a water source for those pollinators. Bees don’t care about the size of your garden. They will find it whether it is a patio container or an acre of lush flowers. 

Whether you plant perennials (come back every year) or annuals (plant each year) it is your choice, the pollinators won’t care. Preferred flowers for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies are reds and blues, but pollinators will love any bright colors with flowers. You should also provide a water source for the pollinators. Just like when we eat a meal, we need something to drink, so do pollinators. It can be a shallow plate or a bird bath with rocks they can land on. Keep the water fresh.

The big question seems to be what plants will attract pollinators –anything in the daisy or mint family, salvias, marigolds, petunias, begonias, lobelia, alyssum, ageratum, celosia, Mexican heather, verbena, zinnias, purple coneflowers, nepeta, roses, Penstemon, impatiens (for a shadier area), lavenders, lilies, and irises. When you go to your local nursery, check the plant tags for good pollinators.

A reminder: some of the big killers of pollinators are pesticides and habitat loss. We all need to do our part to prevent further loss of these beautiful and helpful creatures.

If you have a question or a topic for me to explore or explain, let me know at gardenvarietycolumn@gmail.com Remember the Polk County Master Garden’s Annual Plant Sale at Soo Line Park in Amery on June 3 starting at noon. Our meetings are the second Monday of the month (check Events in paper for speaker) at Justice Center in Balsam Lake. Until next time, keep playing in the dirt.

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