Benefits of a Pollinator Friendly Garden
Gorgeous and bountiful gardens don’t happen overnight. Even with all of your hard work, it’s no surprise that Mother Nature plays a huge role in keeping your ornamentals and edibles producing at their peak. Pollinators and beneficials have a big part in Mother Nature’s plan. However, not all environments are conducive to attracting these helpful creatures.
Chances are you’ve heard about the threatening situation that faces many of our best pollinators, namely bees. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. People, often unknowingly, may pose one of the biggest threats to pollinators and other beneficials because of the ways we have disturbed their natural habitats with our everyday practices and the use of pesticides in our gardens. The good news is we can also be the ones to help rebuild the habitats by planting gardens with flowers that attract and are hospitable to bees, ladybugs, hummingbirds and other beneficials.
Know the Good Guys
Not all insects are in the garden to harm your plants. In fact, a number of them are there to protect your blooms and fight off pests that could potentially have a negative impact on the garden. There are three types of beneficials: pollinators, predators and parasites. Pollinators are there to spread pollen, predators eat the bad bugs and parasites live off pests. So, in a circle-of-life way, everyone has a job. And when these jobs are done routinely, your garden benefits.
For example, honeybees are one of the best known and most-active pollinators around the garden. They increase the overall productivity of a plant through pollination and are attracted to a variety of flowers and plants.
Butterflies are also pollinators. Adult butterflies feed on nectar, a point you’ll want to consider when selecting your plants. Hummingbirds are another well-known pollinator. They are drawn to red flowers, which honeybees cannot see, that have an abundance of nectar. Some insects – the predator type I mentioned above – can be beneficials by helping to rid the garden of moths, aphids, flies and other unwanted guests. These include ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies, just to name a few. The third type of beneficial mentioned above, the parasite, works to keep this balance in harmony by laying eggs inside a pest that will eventually kill or consume the pest. The ensign wasp and the tachinid fly are just two of numerous beneficial parasites in the garden.
Plant This, Not That
Building an army of beneficial insects can take time. If you want to speed the process, I suggest looking into ordering your own from a source such as gardensalive.com or greenmethods.com. Be sure to follow their handling instructions.
Be careful what you introduce into your garden, because you may disrupt this symbiotic balance between the pests and the plants. So, be very aware what you bring into a garden where you are working to establish beneficials.