Plants That Attract Pollinators 

Butterfly bush
(Courtesy of Hicks Nurseries)

Back in health class we learned the importance of the birds and the bees. Their job is to move from plant to plant enjoying pollen while also leaving a little behind to pollinate plants. Without this simple, natural occurrence, we would not have pollinators or many of the plants, fruits and nuts we love. To help keep this fragile ecosystem working, we need to think about how we garden, what we plant and the products we use. 

To attract more pollinators to your garden, you need to create an environment that nurtures and supports their need for food, water and shelter. Think about which pollinators you want to attract. Butterflies prefer nectar-rich plants for food and leafy plants for shelter during their caterpillar stage. Birds need plants that produce fruits and berries as well as evergreen plants to hide in and nest. Honeybees use nectar and pollen as their protein, so the more flowers you plant, the better. All pollinators require water, so consider adding a birdbath, fountain or pond as a water source.

Here are five plants you can easily find at your local garden center that will attract pollinators to your garden:

1.Bee Balm

Also known as monarda, this plant grows 3 to 4 feet tall and features whorled flowers in shades of pink, purple and red. Perfect for a sunny garden.

2.Butterfly Weed 

This plant is a type of milkweed, native to eastern North America. Butterflies are attracted to its bright orange flowers and sweet nectar. It grows 2 to 3 feet tall and prefers a sunny spot in the garden.

3.Phlox 

The star-shaped colorful flowers are a favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds. This versatile plant loves the sun and is available in many colors and sizes. 

4.Coneflower

One of the most popular summer flowering perennials, coneflower prefers full to part sun. It flowers mid-summer through fall and depending on variety, grows 2 to 4 feet tall. 

5. Fruit Trees

Apple, plum and cherry trees are a few examples of fruit trees perfect for your home garden and for hungry pollinators. Dwarf varieties that grow up to 15 feet tall are often the best size for the average Long Island garden.

Create an outdoor space that can be enjoyed harmoniously among plants, pollinators, people and pets. Incorporate outdoor seating, bird feeders and houses, planters, statuary, vegetables and herbs. Become one with nature and enjoy what it has to offer to us all. 

Karen Musgrave
Karen Musgrave, CNLP, is a marketing and education specialist at Hicks Nurseries and contributing writer to Long Island Weekly.

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