Help Protect and Increase Our Pollinators!
Ask A Master Gardener: All About Pollinators!
Join Union County NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteer, Annie Howell, our own "bug geek"! and other Union County NC Extension Master Gardener Volunteers to learn about Gardening for Pollinators. Bring your gardening questions and/or problem plant samples for the group to help you. Annie will have part of her insect collection on display and tours of the Teaching Garden will be offered. Families are welcome and encouraged to attend. Please register for the event here.
Follow these simple steps to create a pollinator-friendly landscape around your home or workplace.
Include larval host plants in your landscape. If you want colorful butterflies, grow plants for their caterpillars. Caterpillars will EAT them, so place them where leaf damage can be tolerated. Plant a butterfly garden!
Create a damp salt lick for butterflies and bees. Use a drip hose or place your bird bath on bare soil to create a damp area. Mix a small bit of sea salt or wood ashes into the mud.
Spare that limb! By leaving dead trees, or at least an occasional dead limb, you provide essential nesting sites for native bees. You can also build a 'bee condo' by drilling holes, of varying diameter, about 3 to 5 inches deep, in a piece of scrap lumber mounted to a post or under eaves.
You can add to nectar resources by providing a hummingbird feeder. To make nectar, mix four parts water to one part sugar. It's best to heat up the mixture to dissolve all the sugar granules then allow it to cool before putting it into the feeder. Boiling it helps to retard the growth of bacteria and mold. Never use artificial sweeteners. There is no food value in them. Never use honey. Honey rapidly ferments and also cultures a deadly bacterium. Never use red dyes. While there is no absolute proof that these dyes are harmful, it is worth noting that there is also no research stating they are SAFE. Either use a RED feeder or place something red on your feeder. Clean your feeder at least twice a week, with hot soapy water, to keep it mold free.
Butterflies need resources other than nectar. For a special hummingbird treat, try putting out an opened banana on a plate. The fruit should attract fruit flies, and hummingbirds love to eat fruit flies. A side benefit to this is that you may also attract a wide variety of butterflies, as well.
Use a wide variety of plants that bloom from early spring into late fall. Help pollinators find and use them by planting them in groups, rather than single plants. Include Native plants. They are adapted to our climate, soil and native pollinators. Remember that night-blooming flowers will support moths and bats!
Avoid modern hybrid flowers, especially those with doubled flowers. Plant breeders often leave out the pollen nectar and fragrance from the blossoms trying to creating the perfect bloom.
Eliminate pesticides whenever possible. If you must use pesticide, use the least-toxic possible. Remember, THE LABEL IS THE LAW! Read labels carefully before purchasing, as many are especially dangerous to bees. Spray at night when bees and other pollinators are not active.
Find Out More About Pollinators
If you are interested in using native plants to attract pollinators, this beautifully illustrated e-book is perfect. When you plan your garden, think like a pollinator -- and this book shows you how.
This wonderful e-brochure has excellent pictures and information about Monarchs and their favorite host plant, milkweed, as well as some great photos of caterpillars and their host plants. Lots to learn here.
From the Pollinator Partnership and NAPPC Selecting Plants for Pollinators. This is an extensive resource covering pollinator types, plant traits that attract various pollinators, landscape development methods, plant suggestions and more resources.
Pollinator Conservation Resources Southeastern US. This amazing list is from the Xerces Society and the NCRS (Natural Resources Conservation Service). It lists general resources about pollinators, biological controls, invasive plant removal, habitat management, conservation in urban areas, bee ID and monitoring, and specific resources by state.
If you are interested in a more technical, related topic, this illustrated article covers butterfly disease and prevention methods.
Visit the Pollinator Paradise at Chatham Mills
Check out The Pollinator Garden at Chatham Mills. It is amazing! This garden has over 225 species of perennials, trees, shrubs, vines, and grasses, and 85% of them are native to North Carolina.
Here is a list of all the plants in the garden so you can have them in your garden too.
If you'd like a starter list, this is a link to the top 25 plants in the garden.
You can find the garden at 480 Hillsboro St. Pittsboro, NC 27312.