My family has been in the flower business for more than 66 years, now in our fourth generation. We take pride on being good stewards of the land and its resources. Planting, growing and selling plants and flowers that not only beautify, but also benefit the environment and its creatures.

MPGC-FINAL-315x315By now, most of you have heard there may be a global problem with some of our most trusted winged friends — the bees, the butterflies, hummingbirds and bats. They are responsible for one out of three bites of food we take, and we are at a critical point in their survival. The reasons we find ourselves in this predicament are numerous. Some man-made and other things we can’t control. Our duty is to find a way to help in any way we can. Habitat loss, degradation and climate change are major concerns, with others being parasites, non-native species and diseases. Pollution and pesticides account for some of the decline, and we have to get better at understanding these effects. Education is critical; it’s the key in how we all move forward to make a better future for our pollinators. We need to identify the problems, work together for positive results and in turn Mother Nature will thrive and benefit from our efforts.

I support the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a nationwide call to action to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that help revive the health of the pollinators. I’m going to share with you some advice on how you can plant gardens that benefit pollinators.

You don’t have to have an acre to help — a simple window box or patio pot does the trick. Small urban garden beds help, too. Choose nectar and pollen-rich plants like wildflowers and old-fashioned varieties of bloomers for your garden. A wave of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season is vital.

Be educated about using chemicals. Never spray flowers that might attract pollinators when the flowers are in bloom. And watch for new research that will help us know which plants and flowers are attractive to pollinators. The Pollinator Partnership website, www.pollinatorpartnership.org, has some beginning lists.

LafayetteFlorist-SavethePollinatorsListed below are specifics for planting a pollinator garden:

  • Choose plants that provide nectar and pollen sources. Here are suggestions:
    • Bees are attracted and benefit from allium, blanket flower, borage, flax, geraniums, hyssop, lupine, mint, poppies, thyme, verbena and of course, bee balm.
    • Butterflies are attracted to alyssum, aster, cosmos, daylily, lavender, liatris, marigolds, shasta daisies, yarrow, zinnia and of course, butterfly bush. Their larvae like fennel, milkweed and thistle.
    • Hummingbirds love bleeding hearts, canna, columbines, cleomes, delphiniums, fuchsias, foxgloves, hollyhocks, petunias, salvias, scabiosa and yucca.
    • Bats seek out Japanese quince, apple and crabapple trees, calendulas, cornflowers, sunflowers, climbing hydrangea, jasmine, night scented stock, evening primrose and rudbeckia.
  • Provide a water source. Install a water garden, birdbath or basin for rainwater.
  • Add special feeders for hummingbirds and butterflies, and provide shelters such as bat boxes.
  • Take care of your plants and flowers with proper fertilizer, and plant the right plant, in the right place.

Don’t be shy — ask your local garden center for plant and floral recommendations for your area.

It’s up to all of us to make a better environment for our pollinators and ourselves. Let’s work together to get their health and numbers up. So please, plant a pollinator garden, support pollinator friendly businesses and plant sustainably.

For more information and to get involved with the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, visit www.millionpollinatorgardens.org. And for even more information, go to www.endowment.org and www.growwise.org.