Planting for Pollinators: Butterflies and Bees Abound

There’s something pleasant about sitting on your deck, seeing butterflies flit through your garden or bees snuggling into the center of a flower. But besides their pretty appearance, these two pollinators are absolutely essential to our ecosystem. You can give them a hand with these simple tips, courtesy of the Bergen County, NJ organic landscaping experts at Borst Landscape and Design.

When it comes to designing a garden, there are several steps you can take to make sure your setup is friendly and accessible to important pollinators like bees and butterflies. Butterflies and bees don’t just work in the spring or summer, so incorporate a variety of plants that will bloom from early spring all the way into the fall. Planting them in clumps, instead of just a single plant or two, is also helpful. Avoid hybrid flowers that are mainly engineered to look pretty; frequently, the nectar, pollen and fragrance have been scientifically-removed, so they’re useless to pollinators.

Balancing the management of harmful pests with the preservation of helpful garden visitors can be a difficult balancing act. It may be tempting to use pesticides to keep unwanted bugs off of your blooms, but many formulas kill bees which are already facing an uphill battle in today’s environmental conditions. If you must use one, read the label carefully, and spray at night, when pollinators are taking a time out.

On that same note, butterflies spring from caterpillars, so include some plants that will host them. Considering that hungry caterpillars will eat them, plant those selections somewhere where their chewed-up appearance won’t bother you. Dead branches make a nice home for bees, so – assuming they’re not a safety hazard – leave a few of them untouched as well.

Like hummingbirds, pollinators are attracted to nectar. Make your own by mixing four parts water to one part table sugar (never use honey, fruit juice or artificial sweetener). Add something red to the feeder to get their attention. Besides sweet, butterflies and bees also love salty. Mix a little sea salt into damp soil, created by a dripping hose or bird bath, to give them an alternate treat.

Making your Bergen County garden pollinator-friendly not only boosts your own blooms, it contributes to the well-being of Mother Earth. If you need specific plant recommendations or other expert ways to nurture your northern New Jersey yard organically, the experts at Borst Landscape are happy to help.