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A Complete Guide to Pollinator Habitats

Written by Judith Lipson- Rubin | Wed, Jan 03, 2018

Pollinators are animals that are a critical part of the ecosystem. They include bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, and many types of birds and bats; any creature that helps plants by moving pollen from one flower to another. This transfer of pollen causes germination to occur, allowing the plants to grow fruits and seeds. They do everything from promoting biodiversity to germinating plants. In fact, the population and diversity of pollinators is a good indicator of the health of an ecosystem.


Unfortunately, urbanization has hurt pollinator biodiversity because it disturbs their natural habitats. You can help reverse this trend by creating a garden that attracts them. This guide will help you understand what plants you need, how to arrange them, and other steps to create a beautiful garden to attract birds, bees, and butterflies.

Choose the right plants

Pick plants that are known to attract pollinators. These are usually bright and colorful plants with a variety of flower shapes. Don’t just pick one type that you like - have a variety of plants with different bloom times and colors, to attract as many pollinators as possible. This array makes the garden more appealing to a larger assortment of creatures and keeps them interested, since they will have a source for food-year round.

You may not want to have every type of pollinator, and that’s okay. For example, if you’re very allergic to bees, pick a variety of plants to attract other types of pollinators. However, if you don’t have health reasons to avoid honey bees and are just worried about being stung, keep an open mind: Unless agitated, bees are docile insects.

These are some great plants that are both beautiful and loved by a variety of pollinators:

-    Purple Coneflower

-    Sundial lupine

-    Helen’s Flower

-    Foxglove Beardtongue

-    Bee Balm

Plan your garden correctly

A lot goes into a well-planned pollinator garden. First, you’ll want to pick a wide range of plants with different bloom times. Your flowers should have overlapping blooms, but during the growing season, at least one or two plants should be flowering. Additionally, make sure that at least 70 to 80% of these plants are native to your area.

Pick plants that have a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Bees will be attracted to yellow, purple, and white flowers, while they will have a hard time distinguishing red flowers from green stems. Hummingbirds and butterflies, on the other hand, will be attracted to red flowers.

Plant your flowers in clusters. Most pollinators like to feed on one type of flower at a time. Planting each flower type in groups together will allow them to move from one plant to another with ease.

If you’re scared of certain pollinators like bees but would still like to attract them, you can plant your pollinator garden away from high-traffic areas. This distance will give the bees plenty of food, and you will have less exposure to them.

Include shelters or protection

To continually attract pollinators, you don’t just want plants: They also need places they can nest and feel safe. Include dense bushes, birdhouses, and bat boxes in your gardening plan. For ground-nesting bees, keep a sunny area with well-drained soil. They need this space to nest - just remember, if you want to encourage this kind of bee, keep this patch away from high-traffic areas.

Additionally, try to have more space in your yard dedicated to gardens instead of grassy lawns. While a lawn can be attractive, it won’t give back to the environment or bring in pollinators. Gardens, on the other hand, make your yard look great, and help to welcoming to a wide variety of pollinators, especially if you use native plants.

More than nectar

While the flowers you pick are a crucial part of creating a pollinator-friendly habitat, other elements are also essential. As mentioned earlier, including areas the animals will feel safe in is important. Birds also like having a water source, such as a shallow bath.

Another helpful tip is to wait to cut back your perennials until spring. This will give wild pollinators places to nest in the winter and provide seeds for birds.

Planning goes a long way in creating a yard that pollinators love. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, contact us here at Moodscapes, and we’ll get you set on the right path. We have over 20 years of experience creating landscapes that are ecologically friendly.

Moodscapes LLC is an organic landscape design and service company with a focus on helping you extend your life outdoors to enjoy activities on your own, as a family and with friends. We create opportunities for you to commune with and find joy and peace in nature and to live in an ecologically friendly and healthy environment. Please explore our landscape services and the portfolio that demonstrates many examples of our work.