Home Tip Tuesday: Five Garden Tips for Helping Bird & Insect Pollinators

Pollinators help plants to flower and fruit.

Pollinators help plants flower and fruit. Without them, we would have less foods to eat and a drab environment.  Many creatures -- from ants to wasps -- accidentally spread pollen, which fertilizes plants.  But the main pollinators in North America are honey bees, wild bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Their bodies accumulate and shed pollen as they travel from flower to flower searching for nectar.

So, how can we support these tiny workers and other insects that help make our world fruitful? Here are five tips for helping bird and insect pollinators.

Avoid Herbicides and Pesticides
Herbicides are chemicals that kill weeds. Pesticides attack insects we don't want in our gardens. The problem is that many of these substances also harm beneficial creatures, including pollinators.

The healthiest solution for removing weeds is hand weeding on a regular schedule. As to pests, observing plants daily for pests is the first step in controlling infestations. Many times all you need to do is to hose off plants. Oregon State University suggests a number of commonsense methods for minimizing weed and pests without chemicals.

Grow Lots of Flowers
Planting plentiful flowers of different types and colors creates a pollinator cafĂ©. Due to their long beaks, hummingbirds love deep, tubular flowers. Bees and butterflies prefer more open blossoms on which they can perch easily. Flies, many of which are fine pollinators,  prefer flowers that are pretty but smell unpleasant.

Seek lists of plants -- some native, some not -- that are particularly appealing to local pollinators. University extension services, botanic gardens, city governments and national wildlife organizations such as the Xerces Society and the Pollinator Partnership are good sources.

Plant Shrubs
Butterflies and hummingbirds need safe places to rest, get out of the rain or perch when predators are nearby. So, plant some shrubs near your flowerbeds.

Provide Water
Tiny wildlife can't easily access water from birdbaths. Hummingbirds like to fly through misters or rub their wings on wet shrubbery.

Butterflies like to splash in shallow mineral puddles that provide nutrients as well as water. To make one, mix soil, sand and a bit of fertilizer in a pie pan, then add water. Tuck it in a flowerbed.  

Jar lids filled with pebbles and water work well for bees.

Don't Be Too Tidy
Most wild bees are gentle ground dwellers that seldom sting. Leave some patches of soil uncultivated in your landscape, so they can build underground nests. It's entertaining to watch their takeoffs and landings.

If you have a spot where you have planted lots of flowers appealing to butterflies and moths (mostly nighttime pollinators), try to leave a small brush pile nearby. When it's cold or rainy, they take cover there.

Share Tips
Do you have advice about welcoming pollinators into your gardens? Please feel free to share it with us at Home Channel TV. For more tips and home tours, visit homechanneltv.com.

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