GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Heidi Heiland from Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens joined us on the KARE News at 4 to discuss the importance of adding pollinators to the garden.
She says planting for pollinators is not just a vote for the environment; it also is a vote for beauty. A well-designed pollinator landscape will have new blooms arriving every month from early spring all the way until snowfall.
The diversity and consistency of blooms will attract a beautiful array of butterflies, hummingbirds and other native pollinators. To maximize this effect, we recommend using native perennials. Here are some of Heidi's favorites:
● Asclepias tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed
● Heliopsis helianthoides – False Sunflower
● Chelone glabra – White Turtlehead
● Polygonatum biflorum – Solomon’s Seal
● Pycanthemum virginianum – Virginia Mountain Mint
● Monarda fistulosa – Wild Bergamot
● Gentiana andrewsii – Bottle Gentian
● Veronia fasciculata – Common Ironweed
Trees and shrubs:
● Cercis candensis – Eastern Redbud
● Aronia melanocarpa – Black Chokeberry
● Cephalanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
● Cornus sericea – Red Osier Dogwood
● Diervilla lonicera – Dwarf Bush Honeysuckle
● Ribies spp. – Currant/Gooseberry
Aside from plant selection, there are other design considerations that will make your landscape more habitable and attractive to pollinators. Habitat creation is imperative for our tiny allies. Just think: if you were itsy-bitsy and couldn’t go inside to get out of the rain, where would you take shelter? Here are some tips for providing pollinator habitat:
● Include rock/stone surfaces in your landscape – Bees and other native pollinators will often use sun-baked stones to warm themselves after a cold night. These elements will not only enhance your landscape but will be very valuable to early spring and late fall pollinators who are cold.
● Leave at least some bare soil – Not all bees live in hives. In fact, the majority of Minnesota’s approximate 400 bee species are solitary. Many of them burrow into the ground to make their dwellings. With mulch and turf grass covering much of our natural surfaces, we don’t leave them many options to build their homes. Opt out of mulching everywhere to make space for them.
● Don’t cut your perennials all the way back – When cutting back perennials in the fall, be sure to leave at least 12” of stems above the ground. When this growth dies and becomes hollow, it will create the perfect habitat for many types of solitary bees and other insects that like to dwell in tubular stems.
● Consider alternative groundcovers – Turf grass doesn’t offer much in the way of food for pollinators. Instead of traditional lawn grasses, consider installing a bee lawn that has flowering varieties of clover, fescue and prunella that will provide both early and long-standing blooms to our native pollinators.
● STOP USING CHEMICALS – Peer-reviewed research has proven that synthetic herbicides and insecticides have a devastating effect on insect populations. The dangers of chemical usage are very real—especially to our pollinators. We believe that responsible gardening means eliminating toxic chemicals from our arsenal.