Happy National Pollinator Month! June is the time to celebrate our very important garden helpers.
Pollination is the important process of moving pollen from one flower to another in order to fertilize the plant. Pollinators are the animals and insects including bees, butterflies, bats, and birds that move the pollen. They may be small in size, but their impact is tremendous.
Did you know that pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bits of food? If you’ve ever enjoyed a cup of coffee in the morning (and a shot of tequila during happy hour) or a handful of summer blueberries, thank a pollinator.
When pollinator populations are healthy, they can increase the size and quantity of crops, leading to increased production per acre. Honey bees alone are responsible for around $1.2 billion in agricultural productivity in the United States.
Unfortunately, pollinator populations are in decline. This is due to misuse of pesticides, loss of feeding and nesting habitats, climate change and other factors. In fact, the issue is so urgent that in 2007 the U.S. Senate designated a week in June as National Pollinator Week — this year, that is June 17-23. This month, do your part in your own garden to help our pollinators thrive.
Plant a Pollinator Garden
Take part in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge! Every little bit helps — you can do your part even if you have space for only a small window box. Your pollinator garden should:
- Include plants that provide sources of both nectar and pollen;
- Include a water source;
- Be in a sunny area with wind breaks;
- Include masses of native plants, and;
- Have continuous blooms throughout the growing season.
Try to use a very minimal amount of chemical pesticides, if you use any at all. Pesticides may be effective at getting rid of unwanted insects, but they also hurt pollinators.
Introduce beneficial insects into your garden instead, like praying mantises and ladybugs. Beneficial insects are the only 100 percent organic way to control pests without harming pollinators.
It’s important to use native plants in your garden because they sustain our native pollinators by providing food and nesting sites. A plant is considered “native” if it was here prior to the European settlement of America. Some of our favorite native plants include coreopsis, phlox, oakleaf hydrangeas, elderberries, river birch trees and red maple trees.
Include a variety of plants in your garden so that you have a continuous succession of blooms up until frost. Never dig up a plant from the wild and place it in your garden. Protect our natural habitat and get yours only from a responsible nursery or garden center.
You can learn more about Pollinator Week and the importance of pollinators through Pollinator Partnership at www.pollinators.org. Spread the word and celebrate our pollinators.
Jennifer Brown is the Marketing Coordinator for Martin’s Home & Garden. The family-owned full-service garden center has proudly served the Rutherford County community since 1982. Martin’s Home & Garden is located at 1020 NW Broad St. and can be reached by phone at (615) 867-7121.