I’m making an extra effort this year to have plants in the garden that attract pollinating insects, there are so many plants that fit the bill, so it’s pretty easy.
This is my little contribution to help bees and all the other insects that are declining in numbers. Apparently the reasons for the reduction in numbers is varied, but whatever it is, doing my bit, and you doing yours -if you’d like to join me?- can only be a good thing ….. and you get more flowers in your garden.
To be honest I’m not being a total goodie, because there’s a lot to be had in return for having a wide variety of beneficial insects in your garden.
These are the two main jobs that pollinators like bees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths do for us gardeners:
- They pollinate food plants by transferring pollen between plants, fertilising them so seeds can be produced.
- They help reduce pests like aphids and caterpillars, before they hatch into something with a voracious appetite; and having plenty of insects around attracts bigger predators, like birds, that’ll eat slugs and snails.
The 3 main things that encourage pollinators into the garden are:
- A mixture of flowering plants from different countries. Plants native to the UK and the northern hemisphere are ideal, but include southern hemisphere plants because they usually flower a bit later in the year than northern hemisphere plants.
- Include as many different plants as possible that flower through the whole year. It’s easy to do this without really trying in spring & summer, but it’s not as tricky as you may think to have flowers in autumn & winter. Bees were buzzing round my crocus flowers in early spring, ivy is good and winter shrubs like Eleagnus, Sarcococca have tiny flowers with a fabulous scent in late winter that pollinators love.
- Flowers need to have a simple, open shape, anything with lots of frilly petals is difficult for them to get into. I love flowers with lots of petals, but I’m including simple ones too.
Sowing flowers from seed is a cheap and easy, see what plants attract the most insects in your garden, it varies around the country and you never really know what’s going to do best in your garden until you try it.You can find a handy pollinator ID chart from Buglife here:
and a list of pollinating plants from the Royal Horticultural Society here
all photos: Jill Anderson.