How to Grow a Pollinator Garden

A recent report from the Center for Biological Diversity reveals some staggering statistics: more than half of the 700 North American bee species are declining, and nearly a quarter of them are on the brink of extinction. This due not only to the use of pesticides, but also habitat loss.

Pollination is a crucial part of plant reproduction and thus the continuation of our food supply. It leads to the development of fruits, vegetables and seeds. Some researchers have even speculated that humans might starve if bees died out.

In an effort to draw attention to the importance of pollinators – insects, birds and small mammals that pollinate plants – Second Lady Karen Pence and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue installed a beehive at the Vice President’s residence.

Ordinary Americans can do their part to help by creating pollinator gardens. This can be achieved by planting flowers that attract bees and encourage pollination.

Here are just three of many plants that can thrive in Maryland:

Russian sage: This perennial prefers full sun and well-drained soil. If the beautiful bluish-purple flower looks familiar, it is likely due to the fact that you’ve seen it planted along Maryland’s highways where it blooms during hot summers. Often praised in gardening books for its usefulness in many landscaping projects, it can be used as a filler or accent feature.

Greek oregano: Talk about a beneficial two-for-one option; herbs attract pollinators and are useful plants in the kitchen. Greek oregano grows from six inches to two feet tall and can be planted in the ground or in pots. It has gray-green leaves and small white or purple flowers. Consider planting other herbs like thyme, dill and chives along with the oregano. Pollinators will love them and you can add freshness to your meals.

Sunflowers: These large flowers are nectar rich. Not only will bees love them, other pollinators will, too. To have a successful pollinator garden, remember to plant a variety of colors. Bees can’t “see” reddish flowers. This is why bright yellow sunflowers, as well as blue, purple and white flowers, attract them best. Native plants are also great choices because they are four times more likely to attract bees. Luckily, sunflowers are native to Maryland. When planting, remember to group sunflowers so bees can easily get from one bloom to another.

Ready to put the welcome mat out in your garden for pollinators? Our experts can help you find the best plants to invite them in.