• Lauren Inmon

Starting Your Pollinator Garden


[Photo Courtesy Of: Honey Llama Farms]



The birds are singing…the bees are buzzing…and your once white Prius is now a dusty shade of yellow.

That’s right! In case you haven’t noticed the rollercoaster of weather changes; spring has sprung in southeast Texas. Pack away your sweaters and bust out your short-shorts and sweat bands.

For all you garden enthusiasts, I know you have been patiently waiting; lurking in the safety of your well heated home. Awaiting the day that the sun would emerge and the last frost would be behind us.

If you’re a seasoned green thumb, then you may already be hard at work creating a blueprint for your future yard of the month. Or maybe you’re totally new to having your hands in the dirt and you don’t really know how to get started. The nuances of spring come with many great opportunities for gardening.

While there are many different types of gardens, this is all about pollinator gardens. Because here at Honey Llama Farms, we are all about showing our hard working pollinators some well deserved love. They not only play an important role in spreading pollen amongst the flowers, they also help to create a balanced ecosystem within your garden space (and they’re fun to watch). And because there are so many different types of pollinators, it is important to create a space that works functionally for all of their unique contributions.

Here are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.

  • Get creative with your space :

If your yard consists of mostly grass, consider adding a few garden beds in different areas. This will add beautiful pops of color and create a fun outdoor project to engage yourself, your spouse, or your kids in.

  • Single vs. double blooms :

While double bloom flowers may be fun to look at, they don’t really serve a beneficial purpose for your pollinators. Double bloom flowers produce less nectar than single layer blossoms and make it harder for the pollinators to get to the good stuff. Consider choosing flowers that have only one layer of petals and a larger pollen pad, which makes for easy pollen and nectar access by offering a large landing pad for your pollinators to rest on. This is especially helpful to bumblebees and butterflies, due to their larger and more awkwardly shaped bodies.

  • Avoid hybrids :

We often find ourselves in awe of beautiful and unique blooms that may come in a variety of vibrant colors or are marketed as more disease resistant. Yes, it is fun to have something new and exciting, and who doesn’t love a hardier plant option. However, hybrid plants are man made, and often do not produce a lot of pollen nor do they go to seed.

  • Plan Your Year :

Depending where you live, you may experience the seasons differently. Here in southeast Texas ( we are outside of Huntsville) we have a very long and hot summer and short fall and spring, so we tend to plant things that are very heat hardy and that will continuously bloom for months on end. When planning a pollinator garden, you want to consider having things planted for spring, summer and fall. During the winter months, most of your plants will be dormant and your pollinators will be hibernating (bees will huddle in their hives generating heat and eating off collected resources from fall). Pollinators could have also migrated (monarch butterflies will travel to warmer temperatures). Having flowers that bloom in the early time of spring is crucial! This is the first taste of nectar and pollen that the bees will be looking for and your butterflies will be looking for a place lay their eggs. With summer being the hottest time of the year, you will need to have something that blooms throughout the heat so that your bees do not run out of resources during the dearth period (end of nectar flow). Fall is the last chance for your pollinators to scrounge up any last minute resources before hiding away for winter, so consider what will be best for the time of year or ask your local garden nursery specialist.

  • A Home For All :

When we think of bees, we tend to focus on the european honeybee, which live in hives, however not all bee species live in colonies. Many other varieties of bees in the United States are actually solitary creatures and burrow their homes into the ground, wood, or smoother form of organic matter. Placing a bee hotel in your garden will give these gentle buzzy-bodies a sanctuary and keep them out of harms way (and out of the siding of your house). Just make sure that it is high enough that it can’t be disturbed by people, animals or a sprinkler and in a shady spot away from wind.

  • Build a Bee Bath :

A bee bath is simple and easy to make. You can find all sorts of creative and beautiful ways to give your pollinators a place to pause during a busy work day of collecting nectar and pollen and have a drink.

  • Say NO to Chemicals :

Nobody likes unwanted pests lurking in our garden beds. But before you grab that pesticide in your garage, remember that most pesticides are harmful to all the creatures that live in your garden. They can’t differentiate between the good and bad. Look for all natural alternatives, or opt out of treatments in general.

Now onto the plant recommendations!!

Below is a list of some of my favorite flower options that I consider a MUST in any pollinator garden.

Milkweed (Asclepias Curassavica)

- also known as Butterfly Weed

- zones 4 - 10

- blooms spring, summer

Lavender (Lavandula)

- zones 5 - 9

- blooms spring, summer, fall

- well drained soil / morning sun



Phlox

- zones 2 - 9

- blooms spring, summer, fall (varies based on variety and zone)



Marigold (Tagetes)

- zone 2 - 11

- blooms spring, summer, fall

- also great for repelling insects

Salvia

- zones 4 - 10

- perennial

- blooms spring, summer, fall

Cone Flower (Echinacea)

- zones 3 - 9

- perennial

- blooms summer, fall

Lantana

- zones 8 - 11

- perennial

- blooms spring, summer, fall










Penta

- zones 10 - 11

- perennial

- blooms spring, summer, fall



African Bush Daisy ( Euryops Chrysantemoides)

- zone 8 - 11

- perennial

- blooms spring, summer, fall










Butterfly Bush (Buddleia Davidii)

- zone 5 - 10

- perennial

- blooms spring, summer, fall












Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)

- annual

- great for cooking

- blooms in summer, fall

















There are so many options when planting up your garden, and so many great choices that your pollinators will love. The most important thing that goes into it, is the love and devotion you put into creating something special for our little garden workers and something that you can walk outside and be proud of. Happy Planting!!





*All photos taken by Honey Llama Farms

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