Wildscaping for pollinators

 

You might not want to coax a bumblebee onto your finger like you would a ladybug - but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invite Mrs. Bumblebee into your yard.

rabbitbrushAfter all, we would have nothing to eat without our pollinating wildlife, which includes hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, some wasps, etc. That’s why it’s important to do our part to make the urban environment healthy and productive by putting out the welcome mat for pollinators.

Our landscapes can offer pollinators and other wildlife a habitat that provides food, shelter and materials for nesting. Even small pockets of wildscape in our yards will attract a diversity of pollinators--and songbirds, too.

Wildscapes vary greatly, but they share key design and maintenance principles. Here are the basics for creating a pollinator-friendly yard:

  • Offer diverse layers and shelter like Mother Nature does--plant life provides this as well as stumps, rocks, walls and other landscape features.
  • Provide nourishing, natural food using a diversity of plants. Use plants that appeal to a wide range of pollinators and use an assortment of plants that collectively span the entire time wildlife may be active.
  • Provide water for drinking and bathing via ponds, drippers and bird baths.
  • Conserve resources by using plants that are native or adapted to our climate.

PlantSelectColorado’s own Plant Select® offers many excellent plants that attract pollinators. Because these plants are well-suited to our altitude and often harsh growing conditions, they should be at the top of our list of plants to consider. Below are top choices that are well-suited to the Front Range and higher elevations.

Colorado Gold® gazania 
Size: 8-10” tall, 8-10” wide
Conditions: Moderate to dry; full sun
Care: Easy care; may self-seed but is “well-behaved”
Why grow it: Starts blooming early, then continues nearly all summer long
Attracts: bees & butterflies
Altitude limit: to 7,000’ but may self-seed as an annual plant at higher altitudes

Little Trudy® catmint
Size: 8-10” tall x 12-16” wide
Conditions: Moderate to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun
Care: Trimming off old blooms will encourage re-blooming and fuller plants
Why grow it: Long-blooming, easy care, sterile (doesn’t self-seed), stays compact
Attracts: butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds
Altitude limit: to 8,000’

Winecups
Size: 5-8” tall x 30+” wide
Conditions: Dry to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun
Care: Cut back to base in spring. Can trim back after first flush of flowers to encourage bushier growth.
Why grow it: Easy to grow, extremely drought-tolerant, and covers a large area of space
Attracts: butterflies, bees, moths
Altitude limit: to 8,000’

Penstemon x Mexicali (Red Rocks®, Pike’s Peak Purple®, Shadow Mountain® or Carolyn’s Hope)
Size: 15” tall x 12-15” wide
Conditions: Moderate water; full sun
Care: Cut back in spring. Can also cut back after first flush of flowers to encourage re-blooming.
Why grow them: Easy to grow, long-blooming, glossy foliage, flowers come in a wide range of colors (pink, lavender, red, purple)
Attracts: butterflies, bees, moths, hummingbirds
Altitude limit: to 7,000’

Baby blue rabbitbrush
Size: 16-28” tall x 20-30” wide
Conditions: Moderate to xeric (little to no additional water once established); full sun
Care: Shape in spring for bushier growth
Why grow it: Dwarf form with silvery-blue leaves, beautiful in and out of bloom.
Attracts: butterflies, bees, moths
Altitude limit: to 8,000’

For more information, visit:
Be a Habitat Hero

To learn more about choosing plants for your pollinator garden, click here.  

Need help with your pollinator garden? Visit www.alcc.com/find-a-landscape-pro to find a member company near you.

 
 
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