Put Out the Welcome Mat for Bees and Butterflies

I’m learning how to grow food in my garden, but I’m also trying to create a full-service restaurant for pollinators. (By the way, it’s worth planting onions just to see the bees go ga-ga over the blossoms.) The National Gardening Bureau is encouraging all of us to do at least one thing to encourage bees and butterflies to visit our gardens.

•    Plant flowers with open petals and upright stamens like cosmos and coneflowers for easy access (this would be the equivalent of a fast food restaurant), or that are heavy pollen producers like dahlias and peonies.
•    Offer a long season of blooms to provide a food source for as long as possible, from very early spring (crocus) to late fall (asters).
•    Provide nesting spots (open ground for ground-nesters) and shelter such as standing grasses, flower stalks and shrubs.
•    Offer host plants for caterpillars (milkweed for Monarchs as an example) and sun-loving flowers (butterflies prefer sunny spots).
•    Provide shallow water for bees and butterflies to sip.
•    Encourage your neighbors to join you in creating food and habitat for pollinators.

I’m heading to the Hardy Plant Society sales in Portland and will be on the lookout for pollinator-friendly plants. What plants are most attractive to pollinators in your garden?

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