With some pollinators being threatened by habitat loss, there is a renewed interest in creating beds and even whole gardens for them. There are several landscape plants can be used purely for there ornamental value but have the added benefit of drawing butterflies and bees as well. One of the best perennials is butterfly milkweed since it feeds the monarch caterpillar without being invasive and its orange blooms are also showy and a nectar source. Other milkweeds are also food sources for the monarch but should be located where their roots can be contained since they spread. Parsley and dill are also commonly grown for swallowtail caterpillars and can be used as herbs as well. Echinacea is also a showy flower that silvery sunspot caterpillars will feed on. If you’re willing to share your tomato plants, even tomato hornworms turn into the interesting sphinx moth. Shrubs such as butterfly bushes and the less know summersweets will attract a wide variety of adult butterflies and bees. Perennials such catmint and veronica also attract butterflies and bees, and if you want to dedicate an entire tree to pollinators, crabapples in the spring and Seven Son’s Flower in the fall are excellent.
Other ways to encourage pollinators include putting up a “bee box.” This box with holes drilled in it will give solitary bees nesting sites. You can also make a butterfly watering station by filling a shallow dish with fresh water and stones they can land on. Also, be sure to never use insecticides except for oils around your pollinator garden since both bees and caterpillars are sensitive to most pesticides. Only spraying in the early morning and late evening when the insects aren’t foraging also protects them.
Butterfly Milkweed – Asclepias tuberosa