Pollinators: Tiny Creatures Making a Big Difference in Our Lives

Spring is the perfect time to take steps toward creating a Bay-friendly backyard!

Did you know that pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat? Not only are they critical to our agricultural systems, pollinators also support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife. But as more forests and pastures become subdivisions, we are losing important habitat for native pollinators.

You can help pollinators thrive by adding native plants to your backyard. With the spring gardening season upon us, look for pollinator favorites like milkweed, coneflower, bee balm, and clustered mountain mint.

Milkweed Growing Tips: These hardy wildflowers support as many as 12 native caterpillar species and are critical to the survival of monarch butterflies. Attracts: Monarch butterflies. Sun: Full sun to light shade. Season: Spring and summer. Blooms: Clustered blooms in yellow, pink, or orange. Coneflower Growing Tips: Plant coneflowers in well-draining soil. They love the sun and are drought-tolerant. Coneflowers are also a favorite of swallowtail butterflies. Attracts: Birds, bees, and butterflies. Sun: Preferably full sun, but partial shade is tolerable. Season: Midsummer into mid-fall. Blooms: Daisy-like purple flowers, but you can sometimes find other colors. Butterfly Weed Growing Tips: Butterfly weed can be found naturally across most states in the US, usually in prairies, open woods, and hillsides. Attracts: Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. Sun: Full sun. Season: Blooms all summer long. Blooms: Clusters of vibrant orange flowers. Bee Balm Growing Tips: Bee balm is one of the best nectar producers for pollinators, and supports seven native caterpillar species. Attracts: Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Sun: Sun to partial shade, especially in hotter climates. Season: Blooms late spring to early fall. Blooms: Fragrant red, pink, purple, or white flowers. Clustered Mountain Mint Growing Tips: Clustered mountain mint is one of the best plants overall for attracting a diversity of pollinators. Attracts: A wide variety of pollinators. Sun: Sun to partial shade. Season: Spring and summer. Blooms: Little white blooms with broad, scented leaves.

Video Credit: Anjelica Eitel, Jared Planz

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