Have you been seeing bees and other pollinators around your flowering plants? Though pollinators may seem like pests that are bothering your flowers and buzzing around your outdoor living space, they are essential to the health of your plants, and for your health as well. 

WHAT ARE POLLINATORS?

Pollinators are animals that fertilize plants. Insects, birds, and even a few mammals such as bats and monkeys can be classified as pollinators. These animals carry seeds or pollen from the male structures of flowers to the female structures of the same plant, which allows the plant to reproduce. This process of pollination allows plant populations to flourish and reproduce naturally, and allows the pollinator to receive nectar that gives them vital nutrients. Without adequate pollination, plants wouldn’t be able to produce for themselves or reproduce for future generations of plants, and pollinators wouldn’t be able to survive. 

WHY WE NEED POLLINATORS

Some pollinators, especially bees or other insects, can seem like an annoyance that you need to get rid of. These animals are only trying to gain necessary nutrition for themselves and pollinate your plants, and will not harm or bother you if you offer them that same courtesy. Pollinators are of vital importance to healthy ecosystems. Without pollinators, we would not have access to three quarters of our major, and most healthy, food crops. Pollination is responsible for the growth and production of most of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we consume. Experts estimate that the ecological service of pollinators is valued at $200 billion a year in the United States. We need pollinators in order to produce some of our most vital food crops and we also need them to sustain the beautiful plants in our environment. 

WHAT PLANTS ATTRACT POLLINATORS?

If you want to do your part to promote pollination, consider adding some of these beautiful plants to your garden!

Perennials that Attract Butterflies
Achillea-Yarrow

Agastache – Hyssop

Asclepias tuberose – Butterfly Weed

Buddleia – Butterfly Bush

Echinacea – Coneflower

Eupatorium – Joe Pye Weed

Liatris - Gayfeather

Perennials that Attract Hummingbirds
Aquilegia – Columbine

Campanula – Bellflower

Lonicera – Honeysuckle Vine

Heuchera – Coralbells

Annuals that Attract Butterflies
Cosmos

Heliotrope

Lantana

Annuals that Attract Hummingbirds
Fuschia

Lantana

Mandeville

For a list of midwest pollinator plants, click here. 

Pollinators may seem like a nuisance that needs to be exterminated from our gardens, but they actually provide necessary support for maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and a beautiful outdoor living space.