Pollinator garden printable at the end of the post!
The month of April brings with it Earth Day, inspiring us to do something positive for our planet and to nurture Mother Nature! Last year on Earth Day I decided to plant a garden for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. And since the garden is located outside the studio windows, it brings joy and creative inspiration to me every day!
Even though it’s early in the season, I’ve already seen several butterflies this year so that’s cause for Earth Day celebration! They really are small miracles with wings.
This year I have a wish list of flowers and plants I’d like to add to my butterfly garden, so I’m ready to hit the garden centers! A day spent browsing through flowers is heaven to me. I usually find flowers I can’t resist, so I get side-tracked from the list I start out with. But I always find a place to plant them!
If you have a garden or landscaping bed, consider adding pollinator friendly plants this year. And if your gardening space is limited, you can grow pollinator plants in containers with a rich, well drained potting soil mix. Any container is suitable if it has drain holes. I like to line rustic wire baskets with sheet moss and fill them with potting soil for a natural look.
And I love this creative idea for a butterfly garden in a small space!
Featured at the wonderful Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the upcycled shopping cart was painted a shade of chartreuse green, contrasting perfectly with the purple plants spilling from it! Lined with sheet moss and filled with potting soil, butterfly friendly plants like Cleome and Alyssum filled the cart and were tucked into the sides making a beautiful garden and pollinator buffet on wheels!
Even the smallest patchwork of pollinator gardens across the country could provide enough habitat to restore communities of beneficial pollinators! Many states have participated in planting milkweed to benefit migrating monarchs-a wonderful idea!
It’s best to research what specific plants and habitat features the butterflies, bees and birds in your region need to survive and thrive.
Choose nectar and pollen-rich plants and flowers. I try to feature a succession of blooming annuals, perennials, and plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.
Coneflowers are a long lasting and beautiful perennial that butterflies love. And Pentas (right) are another favorite that I love to plant in the garden, as well as in containers.
Every pollinator garden needs a butterfly bush! They’re a perennial bush and available in lots of colors! Tutti-Fruitti is a fuschia pink bush and its compact size makes it perfect for use in smaller areas of your garden. I planted one last year and it bloomed from summer to fall. The butterflies and hummingbirds loved it!
I also planted a white butterfly bush and it was equally popular!
To nurture nature, the less pesticides the better! To protect pollinators, never use pesticides on open blossoms or when bees or other pollinators are present. In the long run, organic gardening is the safest option for everyone and everything-including you, your family and your pets!
Butterflies, bees, and birds also need water. I have a birdbath in my garden, but I also add shallow saucers filled with water and a little sand for the butterflies. They’re attracted to muddy puddles for nutrients as well as water. If you have a cut watermelon that isn’t tasty or may go to waste, set it in the garden for the butterflies to enjoy! Happy hour for butterflies!
For hummingbirds, I add a feeder filled with a syrup mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part sugar. I place one feeder in the garden and one on our deck. We love watching them while we’re having our morning coffee outside, and they put the happy in our happy hour later in the day!
There are lots of lists online about which plants attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds to your garden. And most plants are now marked as pollinator friendly when you buy them.
These are some of my tried and true favorites!
Plants that attract butterflies-
And don’t forget plants that attract butterfly larvae (caterpillars) in your garden such as Borage, Fennel, Lupine, Milkweed, Nettle, Parsley and Thistle!
If you’d like to learn more about Monarchs and how you can help restore their declining populations, please visit www.monarchwatch.org. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration. The beautiful Monarchs need our help, and Monarch Watch emphasizes the importance of conservation and restoration of milkweeds as a national priority. The website also has a very helpful section on butterfly gardening and plant lists.
Plants that attract bees-
Another easy to grow plant that will attract bees to your garden when they flower-garlic chives!
Plants that attract hummingbirds-
I just read about a new hummingbird flower that I’d like to plant this year-it’s called Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire’ and the researchers for the Prairie Star Flower list added it to their latest list of recommended flowers. According to KSU extension specialists, the tubular orange flowers are a favorite nectar source for pollinators and will bring hummingbirds flocking to your patio and garden! Plus the plants thrive in hot, humid conditions and need little care besides water and fertilizer. My kind of plant!
So this spring, nurture nature and plant a garden for the butterflies, bees and hummingbirds! It will bring you joy and the pollinators (and your family and friends) will enjoy the fruits of your labor. The earth thanks you!
Share joy and nurture nature!