June is National Pollinator month, and it’s the perfect time to give bees, butterflies, and birds a little recognition. Pollinators are such an important part of getting our gardens to grow.
Did you know, Honeybees alone are directly responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat? They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another in exchange for food.
So how can we give back to the creatures that do so much for us? We’ve compiled a few easy ways you can celebrate pollinators in your garden:
1. Plant a pollinator-friendly garden with plants
To keep your garden beautiful, you can attract pollinators by planting nectar-rich flowers that appeal to them. Try adding native plants to an existing garden or creating a whole new garden specifically for pollinators. Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, providing long-term food and shelter. To keep blooms going, be sure to fertilize with Van Wilgen’s slow-release fertilizer and Bloom Booster.
Adding Echinaceas and Rudbeckias to the perennial border is one way to attract Swallowtails and Painted Ladies. Plus, providing host plants like parsley and dill is great to keep these two returning. The butterflies will use the herbs to lay their eggs and provide for young caterpillars, repeating the cycle.
Pollinators are also attracted to a wide variety of other perennials, annuals, and shrubs including Lantana, Verbena, Vermillionaire, buddleia, zinnia, Black-eyed Susan, Butterfly Weed, Nepeta, Yarrow, Foxglove, Lupine, and Lavender just to name a few. You could easily fill an entire garden with pollinator plants, so stop by the Garden Center for additional plant recommendations.
2. Build a bee hotel
Solitary bees, bees that live alone and not in hives, need a place to make their nests. Welcome these gentle bees to your garden by adding a bee hotel. Solitary bees don’t make honey and rarely sting. Females lay their eggs inside a small hollow tube and then they patch the door with mud. You can DIY or purchase a bee hotel here at the Garden Center to encourage pollinators to check in to your garden.
3. Create a butterfly-friendly space
In addition to nectar-rich plants, such as butterfly bush, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure butterflies pay you a visit year after year. Butterflies love warm sunny spots, so you can add a few big, flat rocks to sunny areas for butterflies to bask and sunbathe on. You can also add a butterfly house or hibernation box in your butterfly haven. Place it several feet above the ground in a lightly shaded area. Butterflies will seek refuge in the narrow openings of the house where predators can’t enter. A butterfly house also provides protection from wind and rain in summer storms. To be a good backyard host, place your butterfly house near nectar-rich plants.
Butterflies also love mud puddles on a sunny day (especially after a good rain) and drink the salt and minerals from the soil, which they later pass to females during mating. Salts and minerals greatly improve the health of a butterfly egg, ensuring generations to come. You can make your own at home, by adding sand and water to a saucer and placing it in your garden; you can even add a pinch of salt.
4. Increase feather pollinator population
Insects aren’t the only pollinators around town. Hummingbirds are also great pollinators. Hang a hummingbird feeder in your yard to encourage our feathered friends to stop by. The plants that are pollinated by Hummingbirds tend to produce more nectar than plants pollinated by insects, hanging a feeder will pay off in the long run.
Want to attract butterflies to your yard? In addition to nectar-rich plants, such as butterfly bush, here are some simple “extras” that you can include to ensure butterflies pay you a visit year after year:
Sun: When a beautiful butterfly emerges from its cocoon, it’s cold. It needs the sun to warm it up to pump blood into its veins and fly. Cut back branches of overhanging trees and shrubs so you have ample sunshine.
Basking: Butterflies love to bask in the sun. Provide them with a big, flat rock to sunbathe in your garden. Bring a cup of coffee outside and look to see butterflies basking in the cooler morning hours.
Butterfly House: A butterfly house or hibernation box is a wonderful garden accessory for your butterfly haven. Place it several feet above the ground in a lightly shaded area. Butterflies will seek refuge in the narrow openings of the house where predators can’t enter. A butterfly house also provides protection from wind and rain in summer storms. To be a good backyard host, place your butterfly house near nectar-rich plants.
Puddling: Male butterflies love to hang out by the water cooler and discuss their female counterparts—the only difference is their water cooler is usually a mud puddle! Males love mud puddles on a sunny day (especially after a good rain) and drink the salt and minerals from the soil, which they later pass to females during mating. Salts and minerals greatly improve the health of a butterfly egg, ensuring generations to come. You can make your own at home, by adding sand and water to a saucer and placing it in your garden; you can even add a pinch of salt.
Butterfly Attractant: Butterflies are pollinators that only drink liquids, and they love nectar. Place a homemade butterfly feeder in your garden and butterflies will be well-fed in their new haven. Butterflies love rotted fruit with a little fruit juice poured over to keep it from drying out—simply place it in a saucer and suspend in a shadier spot. We hope these extras help you attract more butterflies to your backyard and give you more opportunities for butterfly watching and picture taking!
Buddleia ‘Pugster Blue’
Full-sized flowers on a dwarf plant!
Meet Pugster Blue – it’s a whole new look for butterfly bush. This compact plant reaches just 2’/.6 m tall and wide but has the large, full flowers normally seen on a much larger plant. It blooms non-stop from early summer through frost with true-blue flowers, each with a tiny yellow-orange eye in the center. Thanks to thick, sturdy stems, the Pugster series offers vastly improved hardiness and winter survival over other types of dwarf butterfly bush.
Top three reasons to grow Pugster Blue butterfly bush:
1. Appealing true-blue flowers add hard-to-find color to any type of garden or landscape.
2. It produces full-sized flowers on a compact, dwarf frame.
3. Thick, sturdy stems ensure better winter hardiness in zone 5 than other dwarf butterfly bush.
Monarda ‘Pardon my Cerise’
Tuck this sweet and petite perennial into the front of your flower border where it will create a colorful edge of dark cherry pink flowers in high summer. Butterflies and hummingbirds adore it!
Salvia ‘Pink Dawn’
I BLOOM for your PLEASURE.
This colorful perennial produces cotton candy pink flower spikes atop the mounded, aromatic foliage. Lovely when planted in drifts. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds and resists deer and rabbits. Easy to grow in almost any climate in full sun. Drought tolerant but blooms better with average moisture. Cut back after flowering to promote rebloom.
Cupea ‘ Vermillionaire’
Abundant yellow-orange flowers all season long; loves the heat and loved by hummingbirds. Vermillionaire, like all Cuphea is a heat lover and will do best in warm gardens with bright light. Always keep this plant in full sun for best flowering and to avoid it stretching in the shade.
Don’t JUST keep up with the Joneses. LEAPFROG them.
Supertunia Vista petunias are very vigorous, with mounding habits that can reach up to 2 feet in height in the landscape and will trail over the edges of baskets and containers up to 4 feet by the end of the season. They are fantastic landscape plants and are great in large containers, where they function as both fillers and spillers. In garden beds, they will work either in the front or middle of the bed. They have medium-sized flowers.
I can go ALL summer.
Extremely heat tolerant; a brighter purple than Trailing Lavender.
If you are looking for a tough plant it’s hard to beat lantana. Lantana is heat tolerant, uses little to no supplemental water in the landscape, will tolerate less than ideal soils, and usually doesn’t need to be deadheaded. If you are looking for a plant that will thrive on neglect, lantana is the champ.
October has arrived and with it comes fall flavors. Pumpkin spice pops up practically wherever you go. And there’s nothing like a freshly picked apple or glass of apple cider.
Pollinators know it‘s fall too and they could use some help from your garden. This time of year is known as nectar flow, where many major nectar sources are blooming. They want their own fall fixes as they prepare to hibernate or migrate.
5 Fall Blooming Plants for Pollinators
All kinds of pollinators are attracted to this fall-blooming plant — bees, butterflies, native birds, and other insects. This double-duty plant will bring vibrant colors to your garden while providing nectar from summer into late fall. Asters are appealing to pollinators due to their friendly flower structure. They grow 2-3 feet tall and are happy in both sun and partial shade.
The fall color scape isn’t complete without the echinacea’s vibrant color. This easy-to-grow plant brings butterflies and bees to your garden. It grows well in full sun to part sun and blooms continually through the summer months. It is also deer resistant making it a great choice if you are challenged with deer problems.
Bring the fall colors to your garden with this deep purple plant. The flowers cluster at the top of a long slender stem, which butterflies and bees adore. Verbena responds better to late fall sowing as it likes cold temperatures. They grow 2-4 feet tall and are happy in full sun.
Joe Pye Weed
Joe Pye Weed is perfect for gardeners looking to add some height. It may be called a weed, but it brings the classic fall mauve to play with large dinner plate-sized blooms. They are loved by butterflies and will bloom late summer into the fall. They can grow up to 5 feet tall and are happy in full sun.
Autumn Joy Sedum
If you know the classic sedum for the large pink blooms, you will be in for a surprise with Autumn Joy. This variety offers burnt red blossoms on top of tall gray-green stalks. The vibrant fall color complements your garden this season. Butterflies are frequent visitors to this plant. It will last through the fall until the flowers dry in the winter. They grow 2 feet tall and are happy in full sun.
Be sure to keep fall blooms big and vibrant!
National Pollinator Week is a time to give bees, birds, and bats a little recognition. Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. Honeybees are directly responsible for pollinating one-third of the food we eat. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another in exchange for food.
This week, we’re helping to educate people on the purposes these pollinators serve. Keep reading for three ways to celebrate pollinators in your garden.
1. Plant a Pollinator-friendly Garden
To keep your garden beautiful, you can attract pollinators by planting flowers that appeal to them. Try adding native plants to an existing garden or creating a whole new garden specifically for pollinators. Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, providing long-term food and shelter. Follow this simple formula. Plant tall flowers 18-20” apart, medium flowers 12” apart and short flowers 8-10” apart, and then use Espoma’s Bloom! liquid plant food regularly for a boost.
Pollinators especially love these flowering plants:
- Bee balm
- Globe thistle
- Wild rose
2. Build a Bee Hotel
Solitary bees, bees that live alone and not in hives, need a place to make their nests. Welcome these gentle bees to your garden by adding a bee hotel. Solitary bees don’t make honey and rarely sting. Females lay their eggs inside a small hollow tube and then they patch the door with mud. DIY or purchase a bee hotel at your local independent garden center to encourage pollinators to check in to your garden.
3. Increase Feather Pollinator Population
Insects aren’t the only pollinators around town. Hummingbirds are also great pollinators. Build a Hummingbird feeder in your yard to encourage our furry friends to stop by. Ask kids to help to build a feeder that will attract these polite birds. The plants that are pollinated by Hummingbirds tend to produce more nectar than plants pollinated by insects, so penciling in some time to create a feeder will pay off in the long run.
This post is brought to you by Espoma
Butterflies like heat and bright light. If your garden is sunny, you’re halfway home! Butterflies are attracted to reds and purples and butterflies see the best in the bright sunny garden. The sun also provides warmth and heat, as butterflies need this energy for their metabolism. Focus your efforts on the sunny side.
Add herbs to your planting scheme! If you have an herb garden already, you’re on your way! Adding ‘umbelifers’ like parsley, cilantro, dill, and fennel are great plants that provide spice for you and food for caterpillars. Fennel and dill can be added to your vegetable beds and even added to your perennial borders. All of the oregano are great additions to your garden because their flowers provide nectar to many species of butterflies! The flowers of catnips and catmints also attract a wide range of butterflies! Be sure to plant extra for yourself and your caterpillars.
The simple addition of a Buddleia/butterfly bush will give your garden a “butterfly soda fountain!” Butterfly bushes produce three times more nectar than any other summer flower! With a Buddleia, you will get a summer’s worth of flowers and a magnet that will attract the greatest number of butterflies. There are many varieties to pick from, with different heights available, making Buddleias the perfect choice for every garden. All varieties are fabulous at attracting butterflies and other pollinators. Adding one to your herb garden will also direct butterflies to your host plants and give you that classic “colonial garden” look.
Everything’s pretty in pink!
Our flock of flamingos will grow as pink week gets into full swing this week, June 12th thru the 18th.
By now many of you know how important this week is to us here at Van Wilgen’s. Over the past few years with the help of all of you, we have given a check to Smillow cancer hospital, from the sales of the pink flamingos we sell here at the store. They are $10 dollars each and the whole $10 goes to Smillow.
Every year our check has been bigger than the year before. Let’s do it again!
We will also be donating an extra $1 for every pink plant that is bought this week. There will be a display of pink plants in trees and shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
Here are a few of our favorite annual pink picks.
- Guara belleza dark pink- Great thriller plant for your sun-loving containers, dark foliage with wispy bright pink flowers, sometimes looks like butterflies fluttering around the wind.
- Sofie cascade ivy pink geranium- One of our favorite ivy geraniums. This is a delicate-looking full sun plant that adds a punch of color to the planting you are doing around your home or business. Last year our baskets were blooming well into November!
- Lantana pink- Another sun-loving plant. I would use this plant as a filler. As with all lantana, this customer favorite is made up of large clusters of flowers, that fill out and make quite a statement with a nice show of color. Lantana pink starts out with a little bit of yellow that slowly turns pink making for a lovely two-toned cluster of flowers.
- Petunias- we have two favorites 1) is Bermuda beach Supertunia, 2) Bubble gum supertunia. The one you have seen along the road of our property is of course Bubble Gum, So I guess you can say that is by far the favorite.
Now for those of you that need some part sun picks.
- New Guinea impatiens- This year we have so many pink variations for you to choose from. Nothing like new guinea impatiens to brighten up your partially shaded areas. Big beautiful bold colors.
- Dragon wing begonias- This partial shade plant has quickly become a customer favorite over the last few years. Grows quickly and makes a great statement. Our hanging baskets have been known to triple in size by the end of the summer and into the fall.
Stop by and help out a great cause, and paint your garden pink.
Everything’s pretty in pink!
If you’re excited to see some butterflies at your home this year, I’m going to share one of my favorite (their favorite too) butterfly and hummingbird attracting container recipes.
1-4″ Van Wilgen’s Bloom Booster fertilizer, the more blooms the more butterflies!
Plant your Black n Blue Salvia in the center of your container for your thriller, then surround it with the 3 Lantana, our colorful fillers. Finish the pot off with some Verbena spillers, water it in, and you have yourself the ultimate hummingbird butterfly attraction! To keep your visitors happy all summer, always feed your container gardens, and pick off spent flowers to encourage more to come!