It’s simply not a party on our planet without pollinators. Bees, butterflies, bats, and hummingbirds are responsible for half the green growth on Earth. But we don’t have to tell you that—heck, you read blogs about bees!
So say you want to do your part for the pollinators, buttttt your idea of green space revolves more around potted spider plants than sprawling gardens?
Never fear! You can still welcome visits from nature’s little gardeners and help nourish the planet.
Where do you plant when you don’t have a yard?
We’ve collected some tips to help you attract pollinators to your home (easy peasy) with no lawn required.
Start by trying a hanging feeder! These are fun, because they usually fit outside windows and doors where you can watch your visitors without disturbing them.
Fill colorful feeders with nectar-rich sugar water (one part sugar to four parts water) and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds flutter in for a sip. Bonus points for using feeders shaped like flowers or incorporating the feeders into DIY hanging gardens.
The best thing about hanging feeders is that they can go anywhere. Fastened to the outside of windows or just outside your door are perfect locations. But feeders can also go in the corner of stair wells, on balconies, or just about anywhere you have some property that comes in contact with fresh air.
Window planters are all the rage. They pair great with every abode, from classic white homes all the rage since 2019 to traditional brick dwellings and everything in between.
Plant vibrant window boxes overflowing with pollinator-friendly flowers like zinnias, cosmos, or even herbs like thyme and dill. Placing the planters in south-facing windows will get them the most sun, but even east or west will do.
Window planters look incredible. You add some flowers to your façade and you raise the value of the entire street. Plus they help pollinators. It’s a win-win.
Don’t underestimate the power of your balcony! Transform it into a pollinator paradise with potted perennials like lavender, catmint, or sedum. Add hanging baskets overflowing with trailing blooms, and create a tiny oasis buzzing with life.
You can find hanging baskets that clip effortlessly onto your hand rail or balustrade for a romantic balcony effect.
Pro tip: group planters together to create a larger visual impact and attract more visitors.
Raised planter boxes
Craving an elevated garden experience? Invest in a raised planter box! This space-saving option lets you grow a mini pollinator haven on your patio or rooftop. Fill it with a mix of native wildflowers, fruits, veggies and herbs, and watch the buzz begin.
Even a small stoop can be a pollinator pitstop. Plant colorful containers near your entryway with bee-loved blooms like sunflowers, coneflowers, or marigolds. You’ll be greeted by cheerful color and a chorus of happy pollinators every time you step outside.
Talk to your HOA about pollinator-friendly communal plants
Feeling limited by your HOA restrictions? Don’t fret! Advocate for pollinator-friendly changes to your community landscaping. Suggest planting native wildflowers in common areas, or offer to help maintain existing gardens with pollinator-friendly options. You might be surprised at the positive response!
Support local initiatives
Look for community gardens or rooftop farms that promote pollinator-friendly practices. Volunteer your time or donate to their cause.
When and what should you plant to best help pollinators?
Planting at strategic times of the year ensures a continuous buffet for our buzzing and fluttering friends, but which flowers reign supreme in each season?
Here’s a month-by-month breakdown of which flowers do well in which parts of the year and why:
- Early bloomers (pansies, violas, daffodils): These vibrant options wake up pollinators early, offering vital first bites after winter’s slumber.
- Mid-season marvels (coneflowers, poppies, catmint): As temperatures rise, these beauties provide longer bloom times and diverse pollen sources, catering to a wider range of pollinator needs.
- Herb haven (rosemary, thyme, dill): Don’t underestimate herbs! Many boast fragrant blooms and pollen, attracting early bees and butterflies while adding culinary value to your garden.
- Heat-tolerant heroes (sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos): These sun-loving champions provide abundant nectar and pollen throughout the hottest months, when resources can be scarce.
- Butterfly beauties (lantana, butterfly bush, milkweed): Their vibrant colors and specialized nectar compositions attract specific butterfly species, including crucial monarch butterflies who are reliant on milkweed for reproduction.
- Nectar necessities (feeders, water dishes): Remember, summer rains can wash away nectar. Replenish feeders regularly and offer shallow water dishes with pebbles for thirsty pollinators seeking hydration.
- Late-season legends (asters, goldenrod, sedum): These perennials bloom late, offering crucial sustenance for migrating monarchs and other butterflies preparing for winter. They also provide valuable pollen for late-flying bees.
- Winter berry wonders (winterberry, witch hazel): While not blooms per se, their vibrant berries attract birds (including pollinators like hummingbirds) even through colder months, offering a valuable winter food source.
- Habitat heroes (seed heads, stalks): Leaving remnants of your summer garden provides vital overwintering habitat and food sources for beneficial insects, including ladybugs and pollinators.
- Winter blooms (winterberry, witch hazel): These late bloomers provide a rare nectar source for overwintering hummingbirds, crucial for their survival in colder climates.
Beyond the list
Remember, this is just a starting point. Your local climate dictates specifics. Consult your local gardening center or native plant society for expert recommendations. They can suggest regionally appropriate native wildflowers and flowering shrubs that provide optimal bloom times and support local pollinator populations.
Choosing the right flowers:
There are some golden rules to follow when it comes to choosing the right flowers for your petite-sized pollinator garden:
Diversity is key: Plant a variety of flower shapes, sizes, and colors to attract a wider range of pollinators with different needs and preferences.
Choose flowers that feel at home: When possible, choose native plants. They’re adapted to your local climate, requiring less water and maintenance, and provide the best support for local pollinator populations.
Synchronize bloom times: Consider the bloom times of each plant to create a continuous flowering season, ensuring a consistent food source for pollinators throughout the year.
Feed 2 birds with 1 scone: Many herbs and vegetables also produce attractive flowers that benefit pollinators. Consider incorporating them into your garden design for maximum impact. And enjoy some fresh herbs in your cooking!
You don’t need a yard to support pollinators in your area!
By strategically planting based on bloom times, local recommendations, and these guiding principles, you can create a thriving pollinator haven that provides essential sustenance throughout the year.
Remember, every bloom you choose makes a difference, so get planting and let the buzzing commence!