Garden Planning for Pollinators

For a list of native Pacific Northwest plants to consider for your own pollinator haven, see our post on 10 Plants for Your Pollinators!

We depend on these pollinators to provide us with the foods we eat, the flowers we enjoy, the plants we need for medicinal and health reasons, and the overall health of our ecosystems.

Habitat loss, invasive species, pesticides, diseases, parasites, and climate change all take their toll on these important workers; so it's important to understand what creates a healthy habitat for our native pollinators to thrive.

Let's get started!

Planting native plants in your garden, adapted to the local climate and soil conditions, will help provide more energetic rewards for pollinators than domestic horticulture species. Native plants promote biodiversity and ecosystem health and they also decrease the risk and problems associated with invasive species.

These plants also do not require fertilizers or pesticides, and need less maintenance overall. Native plants will provide shelter, food, and act as larval host for native wildlife species.

Don’t - use pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are harmful to pollinators and may even kill your native plants. If you are gardening for pollinators, it's advised to stay away from using broad-spectrum insecticides, particularly on plants that are in bloom, as well as systemic pesticides. "Systemic" means that the chemical can be absorbed by a plant and move around in its tissues. Broad-spectrum insecticides, which can include systemic insecticides, can kill or harm a variety of "good" insects, in addition to the target pest.

When mixed with water and poured on the soil around the base of the plant being treated, systemic pesticides can kill or harm insects for months or years to come.

Do - tend to your garden! Weed out unwanted species, water as needed, and landscape your area. Rocks provide resting and warming spots for pollinators. Logs, lumber, limbs, etc., with holes drilled in them, also provide nesting sites for many pollinator species.

When planning your garden, landscaping, or deconstructing an unfriendly pollinator habitat, consider using a variety of plants to attract diverse pollinators, including plants native to the Pacific Northwest.

For example, native milkweed is the host plant for migratory monarch butterflies. Without it, monarchs can't complete their life cycle. Pollinators, like butterflies solely depend on native plants for their larvae, in order to reproduce.

Several studies have found that the exotic plants catmint and Russian sage are some of the most attractive garden plants for bees.

Sources: National Wildlife Refuge, Denise Ruttan, Gail Langellotto, and Oregon State Extension Services research

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