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SUPPORT AND PROTECT POLLINATORS WITH SPRING PLANTING!
By: Nanette Londeree, UC Marin Master Gardener and Tracey Liao Van Hooser, Project Manager, YardSmartMarin | March 30, 2022
National Plant a Flower Day took place in March! Not only do flowers beautify your yard but they attract pollinators. Watching pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds is fun for the entire family. Don’t worry, it’s not too late. Let’s support pollinators and plant some flowers this spring!
Why support pollinators?
Besides being beautiful and fun to watch, pollinators are a key part of the ecosystem. About 75% of all flowering plants on the planet need pollinators to reproduce. It’s estimated that one out of every three bites of food we eat is because of pollinators so they are an essential part of food production. Sadly, their populations are in significant decline, part of an overall trend that some have called the “insect apocalypse”. You can make a difference by planting flowers that provide the nectar and pollen they need!
What types of flowers do they like?
This online tool can help you select pollinator-friendly plants for every area of your yard. This article details the specific plant preferences of common pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and moths. Try to select a variety of plants that bloom at different times so pollinators have a source of food all year long. Watch our “Bring in the Pollinators!” webinar to learn much more about creating the perfect habitat for pollinators.
Does it matter where I buy my plants?
Yes! Many plants you see in the nursery have been treated with neonicotinoids, commonly referred to as “neonics.” This class of pesticide is toxic to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Neonics are a systemic pesticide, meaning they are absorbed into the plant and circulate throughout it, making the entire plant, including pollen and nectar, toxic to anything that eats it.
Even if you never spray pesticides on your plants, they could still be deadly to pollinators because of how they were treated before you purchased them. Ask nursery staff if their plants are treated with neonicotinoids before you buy or visit a nursery that has pledged to buy only neonic-free plants. Here is a list of SF Bay Area neonic-free nurseries; search online for more options.
Maintaining a beautiful garden - without pesticides!
Knowing how deadly pesticides are for pollinators, you’ll want to avoid using them at your home too. Can you still have a beautiful garden? Yes!
The most important tip is to make smart plant selections. If you choose a plant well-suited for your site, it will thrive without much trouble. Here’s a guide to selecting the right plant. Native plants are always an excellent choice! Learn how to encourage beneficial insects and other natural enemies.
If you are still facing pest problems, visit YardSmartMarin.org for help with weeds, plant diseases, insects, and rodents. Learn more about beneficial insects and other natural enemies (scroll on this page for a variety of articles) or watch our “Bring in the Beneficials!” webinar.
Enjoy your garden and the beautiful pollinators who visit!
Nanette Londeree planted her first garden at age five. After a career in the pharmaceutical industry, this passionate life-long gardener is a writer, Marin Master Gardener and Marin County Integrated Pest Management Commissioner. She is also on the Steering Committee for YardSmartMarin, an organization that empowers people to reduce / eliminate pesticide use through awareness and education about safer, effective alternatives; www.yardsmartmarin.org
More from this issue:
Book Picks: Spring Read >>
How to take Better Spring Break Photos Read >>
Mindfulness in the Making: No Mud, No Lotus Read >>
Rose-Colored Glasses Read >>
Spring Forward with Courage Read >>
Spring Forward; Learn Ahead Read >>
The Test Read >>
Welcome Community Partner: Chronos Academy Read >>