Pollinators include bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other birds that assist plants with reproduction by pollinating. Pollinators also benefit gardens by eating harmful insects that otherwise threaten vegetables and fruit trees.
Growing flowers nearby or around your vegetable garden is one way to attract beneficial insects. Be sure to include blooming varieties from early spring until fall bloomers.
Plant Blue Flowers
Flowers provide vital food source for pollinators, and planting blue blooms near your vegetables helps attract them. Any sun-loving flower will work, but blue blossoms in particular attract bees and other pollinators due to their deep hue. Bees see deeper shades of blue than we humans do, leading them more frequently visit these blossoms and transfer pollen between blooms.
Choose flowers that bloom throughout the growing season to provide pollinators with food throughout their daily needs, with staggered blooming times making it easier for bees to find nutritious plants. In addition, choose perennial flowers known for attracting pollinators like Astilbe, Buddleia Butterfly Weed and Liatris (aka Blazing Star).
Avoid pesticide use in your vegetable garden whenever possible; if needed, spray only specific plants with an insecticidal product designed to address only specific insects rather than all. Also try not to spray at dusk when bees are most active and always read and follow all label instructions carefully before spraying anything with potentially hazardous ingredients.
Bees are attracted to various colors, with blue being particularly inviting. When planting, keep in mind that bees also seek specific shapes and sizes of flowers: single blooms as well as clustered ones should be included, along with tube-shaped ones and those featuring simple petals.
Other blue flowers to consider include delphiniums, skyblue daisies, violets, cleome and hydrangeas – all native varieties that pair beautifully with almost any vegetable or herb.
If you have the space, try planting a dedicated pollinator garden or simply adding flowers among your vegetable plants. Be sure that the soil provides healthy conditions for these plants to thrive; to maximize results use Miracle-Gro Raised Bed Soil or mix Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers into existing top layers in pots or in-ground planting beds for best results – both products feature premium-quality soil that’s designed to optimize vegetable gardening as well as attract pollinators!
Plant Native Plants
For pollinators to thrive in your vegetable garden, native plants should be planted. Native species and pollinators evolved together over time to meet the specific requirements of local growing seasons, soil types and climate. By choosing native varieties that have been tailored specifically to your garden environment, pollinators populations will easily find sustenance to feed on and reproduce in it.
Bumble bees are essential components of veggie gardens, as their pollinating ability allows for tightly bound pollen to be released more efficiently than other forms of pollination. Bumble bees can pollinate tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, squash watermelons and cucumbers efficiently as well as pollinating fruit trees such as apples pears and stone fruits; and they prefer sunny sheltered locations when foraging for food.
Bees favor sun-loving flowers and herbs rich in nectar for pollination purposes. When selecting flowers to plant in your vegetable garden, aim for variety in terms of colors, shapes and scent. Hummingbirds usually prefer tubular red flowers which are easy to access using their long tongues; butterflies prefer vibrant purple and blue hues. Bees and flies prefer shallow flowers which they can access easily using short mouthparts; whenever possible, select seasonal blooming ones for optimal pollinator activity.
As part of your vegetable garden design, consider planting both annual and perennial flowers to provide additional food sources for pollinators. Some attractive annuals for pollinators could include marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias and sunflowers while also adding herbs such as dill, parsley, basil or thyme to provide additional herbs to pollinators. Lupine, goldenrod or echinacea perennial flowers could be perfect additions.
Garden planning programs can be invaluable when it comes to choosing where and when to plant various flowers and vegetables in your yard. By using one, it will save both time and effort while making it easier to locate appropriate blooms to fill out your vegetable patch. Furthermore, using such programs allows you to create planting plans which include companion flowers for specific vegetables as well as those which attract pollinators most effectively.
Pollinators need food, water, shelter and somewhere safe to raise their young. A vegetable garden that serves as a pollinator habitat can offer all four. Select flowering plants that bloom throughout spring, summer and fall so pollinators always have food sources nearby. Staggering bloom times for different plants is another useful strategy: this way early pollinators have something blooming early while later pollinators will still have something blooming late into the season.
Plant an array of annuals and perennials throughout your garden and in and around vegetable beds to attract pollinators, with special attention given to your vegetable beds. If possible, create a flowering border around it in order to draw even more pollinators in. Groupings of plants attract more pollinators than individual ones, so combine alyssum with tomatoes and lettuce; calendula with zucchini; dill, basil, and nasturtiums with cucumbers; zinnias with corn squash carrots and sunflowers along with herbs like marigolds, chives or thyme which not only attract pollinators but can repel damaging insects as well.
If possible, when selecting plants it’s wise to opt for local varieties. Native species provide the most valuable food, water and other resources to pollinators populations in your region, because this is what they have evolved with over time.
Unless absolutely necessary, avoid broad spraying with pesticides; focus on specific bugs instead. Pesticides kill both good and bad bugs alike and could potentially harm or kill pollinating bees that visit your vegetable garden to provide pollination services. It is best to spray in the evening when bee activity has dropped off, spraying only foliage or flowers of plants which have yet to bloom fully.
Save stems of flowers and herbs, fallen tree twigs, shrub twigs, logs and snags as nesting sites for solitary bees; leave logs and snags as winter shelter for bees and wildlife alike. All of these features contribute to stronger ecosystems that help our planet weather climate change – not to mention more delicious vegetables from your garden or homemade zucchini bread made possible thanks to pollinators! Now go enjoy it all – thanks pollinators for making it possible!
Keep the Soil Moisture Levels High
Pollinators need food, water and shelter in order to survive and flourish – flowers and vegetables provide these necessities. By adding a variety of blooms to your vegetable garden, you can attract many different pollinators throughout the growing season. Stagger your plantings so flowering plants bloom throughout early spring, summer and fall instead of just one big burst in summer heat. Include perennials, hardy annuals, wildflowers and bulbs so pollinators have access to an ongoing source of pollen and nectar.
Pollinators can also be attracted to your garden through food and water sources besides plants alone. Hummingbirds love nectar-producing flowers like foxglove, trumpet vine and penstemon (aka beard tongue). Hummingbird feeders can also help bring these pollinators in while butterflies and bees love fresh fruit like ripe berries and melons for pollination purposes.
Bees need pollen in order to reproduce, so they move it between flowers by moving pollen from anthers of male flowers onto stigmas of female flowers. Pollinators are drawn to specific colors; so for maximum impactful pollinator attraction grow a rainbow of blooms to attract all types of pollinators; bees especially like yellow, blue and purple hues while hummingbirds favor red orange pink hues.
Be sure to create a garden that provides pollinators with shelter. Butterflies especially tend to love tall plants. Leave unmowed leaf piles, branches and bare areas un-mowed or mulched as bees and other ground-dwelling pollinators need places where they can retreat from being disturbed.
Bees and other ground-dwelling creatures will appreciate having a long-term home by creating or purchasing a bee house. Bees tend to be nearsighted; clusters of flowers will help guide them toward finding their new space.
Bumblebees make excellent pollinators of nightshades (tomatoes, eggplants) and other fruit plants because of their ability to “buzz pollinate”, or release tightly bound pollen by vibrating it loose. Bumblebees enjoy visiting flowers like tulips, sunflowers, lupine vetch clover tulips. Butterflies tend to gather at flowers such as liatris butterflyweed salvia coccinea and yarrow which attract them.