Plants for Pollinators
Pollinators are the unsung heroes of the natural world. More than 80% of the world’s flowering plants rely on animal pollinators to reproduce. One out of every three bites of the food we eat exists because of them, including apples, tomatoes, chocolate, honey, almonds and coffee.
Due to human activities, our pollinator populations are in decline. Habitat loss, pesticide and herbicide use, and climate change are all threatening their future survival. But, we can help our pollinators by creating nectar-rich garden habitats in public parks and open spaces and at our homes and businesses. These small habitat patches can create an interconnected network, that help revive and sustain populations of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across our city, country, and continent.
Plants that attract pollinators
If you are looking to create your own pollinator friendly garden, this list is a great place to start. Many of these are plants and varieties that you can see at our Pollinator Garden at Parque Juarez. To view information about each plant place your cursor over the photo.
When deciding which plants you would like to place in your garden, think about including host plants for butterfly caterpillars and creating spaces for nesting and shelter, too. You’ll find that the plants that attract pollinators will provide beauty and aroma to your garden and many can be used in cooking or medicinal remedies, too.
Franke’s Vivero (map) is a great source for native plants and a reliable and knowledgeable supplier of a variety of pollinator attracting plants that are well-adapted to our high desert environment. Happy Gardening!
These herbaceous plants do best in full sun, but some will adapt to filtered shade. Many are aromatic, and will fill your garden with wonderful fragrances after it rains.
Succulents and Grasses
Succulents are a wonderful addition to a pollinator garden, adding different shapes, textures and colors to a garden bed or container. They make for a stunning display when many species are grouped together. They are drought tolerant, fast growing and and easy to care for.
These vines provide colorful or aromatic nectar-rich flowers to your garden, while vining plants of all kinds provide hidey-holes for hummingbird nests and caterpillar cocoons.
Warning about Distictus… This plant grows rambunctiously and requires regular care to prevent unwanted spread and to maintain the size and shape appropriate to your garden size. Remove seed pods to prevent spread of plant. Prune back heavily in late fall and prune occasionally during growing season to maintain shape and desired size. Needs regular watering until established, then is drought tolerant.
General Guidelines for Planting and Care
Location: Garden beds or container.
Blooms: Year around, but less predominately in winter.
Light: Bring on the sun, but most will tolerate and bloom under filtered light conditions.
Soil: Most of the plants on our list like well-draining soil, if the soil retains too much water it can cause the roots to rot. To achieve good composition, use a mix of soil, volcanic rock and compost. Primavera Nursery is a good source for soils that can be mixed to order.
Planting: Dig a hole that is wider than the radius of the container with the depth the same as the height as the container. Gently remove the plant from its container and loosen the root ball. If the root ball is severely compact, you can use a knife to gently cut and loosen the roots. If there are any long roots, do not bend and wrap them around the planting hole. It is better to snip them off so they are more or less even with the other roots. Place the plant into the hole, the top of the root ball should be level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firmly, but gently, tamp down the soil around the plant to remove air pockets. Water thoroughly.
Water: Once established nearly all of the plants that we feature in this section are drought tolerant. Deep watering is best, once a week during hot months and less often during winter. Keep an eye out for droopy leaves, which means they need water, or yellow leaves, which generally indicates too much water. Plants in pots usually require more frequent watering.
Spent flowers: It’s important to remove spent flowers, cutting the stem at its base.
Pruning: Throughout the year, continue to prune judiciously, so that your plants don’t become “leggy” or out of control.
After the first year, the salvias benefit from a deep pruning during late winter or when new foliage is appearing at the base of the plant. You will be rewarded with a fuller, healthier plant in no time at all.
Feeding: Apply a thin layer of compost each spring, followed by a 2-inch layer of mulch to retain moisture and control weeds.