California is celebrated for its diversity in flora and fauna, but to maintain and enhance that status, gardeners need to be mindful about creating gardens that are welcoming and supportive of pollinators.Patrice Hanlon, a horticultural consultant who also writes “The Garden Coach” column for Bay Area Newspapers, says the best gardens have a tapestry of plants that attract pollinators and provide homes for them.
Here are her tips for creating a successful garden:
- Avoid using pesticides of any kind and be cautious about plants that might have been grown with neonicotinoids — pesticides that have become part of the plant and which poison many insects including beneficial ones. Hanlon suggests buying from local growers.
- If you have to use pesticides, Hanlon says, know what type of insect that you’re targeting and make sure you are applying the pesticide at the proper time. If you spray without knowing what insects are there, you could be killing beneficial insects.
- Create places in your garden for pollinators to live. That might mean living with a garden that is not perfect. Many beneficial insects need leaf debris and seed heads to build nests and in which to spend the winter. If you have to rake or deadhead, leave the material on your property.
- The benefits of mulching are many, but it can be detrimental to ground nesting insects including many species of native bees. Leave bare spots or set out empty pots of soil and sand.
- Consider planting a variety of native and Mediterranean plants that bloom throughout the year, giving insects and birds a steady food supply.
- Native plants are important for native bees, so if you don’t want a completely native garden, at least use them for the bones of your garden.
- Hedgerows also are important for pollinators. They provided places for birds to nest and seek refuge, and flowering shrubs support insects. The hedges also protect the creatures from the wind and provide additional warmth.
- Water also is important for birds and bees. The sound of running water in fountains attracts more birds than standing water. Hanlon also fills small saucers with water, which she changes every day, and adds a few rocks to give bees safe landing spots.
- Creating swaths of color also will attract pollinators that will see the colors from above.
- Set up a maintenance plan. It will make it easier to keep your garden thriving.
- Herbs also attract pollinators. Hanlon lets her herb garden go to seed starting in August. The flowers feed a lot of bees and are a good source of late season nectar.
- If you’re growing a pollinator garden, look for single flowers with obvious openings. Flowers where you can’t see the center are too difficult for the insects to get into to feed on the nectar.
Here is a list of favorite plants for a pollinator garden:
Annuals and Perennials
- Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) — Annual. Stunning sky blue flowers attract native
bees, including mason bees (Osmia spp.); tolerates moderate shade and moisture. Early bloomer.
- Common tidytips (Layia platyglossa) — Annual yellow flowers. Sunny yellow and white
flowers are very attractive to butterflies and native bees; tolerates clay soils.
- Lacy phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) — Annual, purple flowers. Easy to establish, with
prolific, showy blooms; tolerates clay soils.
- California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) — Annual, orange flowers. Easy to establish and long blooming; attracts a diversity of bees, bumble bees in particular.
- Elegant clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) — Annual, pink flowers. Strikingly unique flowers
attract bees and butterflies; larval host for Clark’s sphinx moth.
- Globe gilia (Gilia capitata) — Annual, blue flowers. Globe-shaped, periwinkle-blue flower
clusters attract a diversity of bees and butterflies.
- California phacelia (Phacelia californica) — Perennial, purple flowers. Tightly coiled flower heads are very attractive to bumble bees and other native bees; tolerates clay soils.
- Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) — Perennial, purple flowers. Showy flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds; extremely fragrant foliage; requires good drainage.
- Foothill penstemon (Penstemon heterophyllus) — Perennial, blue flowers. Iridescent violet
flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds; requires good drainage; heat and
- Narrowleaf milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) — Perennial, pink and white flowers; Monarch butterfly host plant; high quality nectar source for many bees; easier to establish from transplants than from seed.
- Summer lupine (Lupinus formosus) — Perennial, purple flowers. This and other lupines are highly attractive to bumble bees and visited by many other native bees.
- Common sunflower (Helianthus annuus) — Annual, yellow flowers. Sunflowers are a favorite of many bee species; easy to establish and tolerant of clay soils; mid to late blooming.
- Gumplant (Grindelia camporum) — Perennial, yellow flowers. Long-lasting flowers; attracts small, native bees; tolerates clay soils and wet or dry conditions.
California native plants for pollinators
- California aster (Symphyotrichum chilense) — Perennial, purple flowers. One of the latest fall blooming plants; important for prehibernation bumble bee queens; tolerates clay soils.
- California fuchsia (Epilobium canum) — Perennial, orange and red flowers. Abundant scarlet colored flowers; critical late season nectar source for hummingbirds and bees.
- California goldenrod (Solidago californica) — Perennial, yellow flowers. Important late season forage for bees, butterflies, beneficial solitary wasps, pollen-eating soldier beetles and more.
- California lilac (Ceanothus ‘Concha’) — Purple flowers. Attracts bees and butterflies with a profusion of bright violet-blue flowers; tolerates clay soils; early bloomers.
- McMinn manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘McMinn’) — White and pink flowers. Clusters of small, bellshaped flowers provide early season forage for bumble bees and other spring bees; tolerates clay soils.
- Oregon grape (Berberis aquifolium) — Yellow flowers. Attracts honey bees and native bees, including mason bees (Osmia spp.); tolerates shade and wet or dry conditions.
- Redbud (Cercis orbiculata) Pink and red flowers. Rose-colored blooms clustered on bare
branches; tolerates some shade and moisture; can be pruned to a shrub or small tree.
- California buckthorn (Frangula californica) — White flowers, very small. Attractive,
evergreen shrub that attracts small, native bees; its berries are a favorite of birds; tolerates some shade; early to mid bloomer.
- California flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum) — Golden yellow flowers. Prolific
bloomer with large, bell-shaped yellow flowers; does not need summer water.
- Silver bush lupine (Lupinus albifrons) — Purple flowers. Showy, deep purple flowers with
contrasting silver foliage; attracts numerous bee species; requires good drainage.
- California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) — White flowers. Favored nectar source of many blue and hairstreak butterflies, also very attractive to native bees; drought tolerant.
Next time in the garden, planning your cool winter garden. Our Garden offers free gardening classes at 10 a.m. Wednesdays through October. The garden is at Shadelands Drive and Wiget Avenue in Walnut Creek. Join us 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 9 for our annual “Get Dry” plant sale. There will be speakers talking about low-water gardening, and many plants for sale.
Published at Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:00:19 +0000