January 18, 2022

Invite pollinators to your garden

The Hoosier Gardener shares pro tips

INDIANAPOLIS — There are many ways to make your garden an inviting home to pollinators.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, known as the Hoosier Gardener, discussed pollinators at a webinar hosted by Bethany Community Gardens.

If you want to do just one thing, Sharp said, provide water — and pollinators will come.

Reducing or eliminating pesticides is also a good idea. Growers can also give pollinators a home by not being a neatnik after harvest.

“A lot of our native pollinators hang out in the winter time in the stems of plants, in leaf litter on the ground,” Sharp said. “I know it’s a tug and a pull whether we should clean up the garden or wait until spring.

“It’s a personal thing to decide. But if you can leave a few things standing, it’s not going to hurt anything.”

Annuals that are good for pollinators include cosmos, Cyprus vine, lantana, flowering tobacco, geranium, sunflower, Brazilian verbena, petunia, salvia, Mexican sunflower, zinnia, crocus, bee and Virginia bluebells and daffodils.

Herbs are probably one of the better plants for pollinators, Sharp said. Examples include dill, fennel, parsley, borage and mint.

Perennials that pollinators like include yarrow, butterfly weed, milkweed, columbine, purple coneflower, coral bell, hostas, blazing star, honeysuckle, black-eyed Susans, sedum, New England aster and monarda.

Trees and shrubs are also good for pollinators.

“If you only had to plant one tree in your garden to support wildlife, white oak would be it,” Sharp said. “The white oak supports more than 400 different species of caterpillars.”

If you want to make sure that bees have sustenance after winter, look for early blooming native plants, Sharp said. That’s where the pollinators will get their nutrition.

Follow the Hoosier Gardener at www.hoosiergardener.com.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor