Who doesn’t like to look at beautiful flowers? And let’s face it, we as a whole haven’t been kind to our pollinators. Throughout the world, this vital group is in crisis. And if we don’t have pollinators, we don’t eat. Three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. So join me as I discuss 5 easy steps to create a pollinator garden even for the very beginner.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see our disclosures here.
Before we dive into these five areas, I want to bash some myths. I want to encourage those of you who think you don’t have enough money, time, or space to create a beautiful pollinator garden. You do not need to have acres of property to have your very own pollinator garden. You can use a simple balcony if that’s the only outdoor space you have by using pots or raised flower beds.
You also don’t need to have a ton of money, and we’ll cover fun ways to have many of your favorite plants in the last tip. It does take some time but not as much as you think, so it’s not just for the retired or those who are home more often.
Plus, from experience, time in your garden is time you will look forward to. Not only for the beauty and accomplishment but for the peace and clarity of mind after time spent in it.
1. Choose native plants
It’s essential to be educated in this for a couple of different reasons. First, if you genuinely want to support your local pollinators, you will need native plants that they would choose naturally. Also those they can spend a whole living cycle on.
You could have the most beautiful flower garden on the block. Still, if the flowers are non-native, they may be of zero benefit for the bees, birds, butterflies, and other insects in the area. You will then find them passing on to native selections.
There are many helpful websites to find this information. These databases will not only show you a multitude of plants, trees, and flowers native to your area but also where you can purchase them safely.
This brings me to another important reason to be educated with native plants. Unfortunately, many of the plants advertised for pollinators are non-native plants that don’t support the pollinators’ entire life cycle. These plants could also be harmful to them.
Plants grown massively may use systematic pesticides or water-soluble chemicals that will kill the pollinators attempting to survive on them. Or, pollinators may bypass them altogether.
Unfortunately, these pesticides and chemicals are then brought into your gardening and can remain there for up to seven years. So it pays to do your easy research not only into natives for your area but where to buy them.
I personally love Botanical Interests, Prairie Moon Nursery, Joyful Butterfly, and Renee’s Garden, to name a few. And I absolutely love my local native plant sales, which can easily be found in your area.
A quick Internet search can reveal both local and online suppliers of chemical-free, native plants for your pollinator garden.
Once you get your favorites established, you can easily harvest seeds from your flowers and have lots of new flowers and plants for the next season. Planting flowers from my seeds is one of my favorite things to do and is a definite asset to my pollinator garden! 🙂
2. Absolutely no pesticides
A lot of us grew up with parents or grandparents who were constantly spraying, sprinkling, or otherwise applying pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides of some sort.
I can’t stress this enough, please don’t follow their horrible example!
I like to think that they just didn’t know, but we know better! Please do your research and make a pact right now to use zero pesticides. It will be the complete destruction of your pollinator garden and will only cause harm to their already fragile world.
Besides death, these chemicals can cause an array of birth and development issues. They could also contaminate a whole colony. This could cause confusion for them as they try to figure out how to eat, mate, or migrate.
One of the biggest killers to pollinators is herbicides (weed killers), so please try to make your yard free of them all. There are many resources out there to learn about non-toxic ways of controlling weeds or unwanted plants. A quick internet search will present you with a long list of options.
As far as “unwanted” insects, think of them as part of the food chain. Caterpillars are not only an excellent food source for your local birds, but butterflies and moths count for a considerable population of pollinators. Planting local food sources for them will help create a perfect pollinator garden.
The bonus is watching them grow into beautiful butterflies and moths! There are many resources on controlling insect pests without chemicals, but remember, any native insect is most often an essential part of your pollinator garden. Even those that don’t seem as beautiful to us.
Research which insects are native. Non-native pests such as Japanese Beetles cause massive damage and can be safely removed.
3. Keep plants healthy
We’ve discussed doing your research on native plants and safe ways to control some unwanted plants or insects. Still, it’s also important to do your research on your plants’ needs. If you have a water-loving plant next to one that prefers it drier, you will not only give yourself some harder work but maybe some dead plants or diseases.
Speaking of diseases, its good to know what plant diseases to be on the lookout for and, ideally, to prevent them altogether.
It’s essential to get your planting area ready with good soil, even supplementing your soil as needed. This also includes removing invasive plants in the area.
Does your area get a lot of sun? Wind? Small critters or deer walking through? It’s important to know your area and choose your plants wisely. Research what works best for your area, and make sure your gathered information is from valid resources.
4. Have a variety of plants
While we all have our favorites, having a variety of plants will support a variety of pollinators all season long. Select a wide variety of flowers that bloom throughout the season. This will not only benefit your pollinators but also you, as you will be able to see beautiful flowers for many months. A simple internet search can bring up a long list of native flowers for you to choose from.
I love watching different flowers bloom and blossom all summer long. It’s like a Christmas present each morning when you find those new ones! 🙂
Think of plants that will also support larvae and provide protective habitats for different types of pollinators. Clumping a few plants together will create a food oasis for your pollinators as well.
And of course have a wide variety of perennials, which will grace your garden year after year if healthy.
Did you know?
The beautiful and endangered Monarch butterfly lays their eggs exclusively on the Milkweed plant? Find which is native to your area and include them to support this beautiful creature!
5. Sit back and enjoy!
You’ve researched, prepared, planted, and cultivated, and now it’s time to enjoy! Take time every day if you can to quietly observe your pollinator garden. The peace and rewards are enough to bring stress levels down, promote a sense of peace and a great sense of accomplishment. There is also something special about knowing you are making a difference!
If I am having a rough time for any reason at all, taking a walk around my flowers and observing new things reduces my stress and puts a smile on my face! 🙂
Don’t stop there, though, think about gathering friends together for a seed/plant exchange party. This is a great way to get other varieties of plants and flowers for free, while sharing your own favorites.
If you don’t want to have a seed party, you can still give them away to friends so they can start their own pollinator gardens. A few of my friends and I will save seeds for each other and either drop them off or mail them.
Seeds are a great way to grow new plants on a budget. It’s exciting and fun!
As you get more educated and involved, you can also begin to watch life cycles of various butterflies, moths, and other insects. You may even be able to watch the birds grow families near your garden and host hummingbirds as well. I have found all of this to be very rewarding. I love it so much!
The beauty and possibilities are endless, and sharing your love with others is rewarding as well.
What prompted you to want to start your own pollinator garden? Comment below and share, I’d love to hear!