How to Attract Pollinators
One of the best gifts of nature is the presence of beneficial organisms. Some of which are known as pollinators. The perpetuation of plant species basically happens with the aid of pollination which is an integral process for fruiting and eventually, seed production.
In the past, the abundance of pollinators was never a problem. However, due factors such as the industrialization and rampant use of pesticides, there has been a decline in the number of pollinators. If you’re having trouble attracting pollinators to your garden, here are some basic ways to solve the problem.
What Are Pollinators?
Pollinators are organisms that serve as instruments for the transfer of pollen from the male flower part to the female flower part. They can either be insects, birds, bats, and other animals that feed on flower nectar and transfer from one flower to another carrying with them the pollen grains.
The presence of pollinators help ensure the production of seeds in flowering plant species which aids their reproduction. With the help of pollinators, the diversity of genetic make up in the succeeding offspring produced is ensured. Crops produced for their fruits such as squash, cucumber, tomato and eggplant rely mostly on pollinators for fruit production.
Types of Pollinators
There are various types of pollinators. Some are specific to certain plant species while others can generally pollinate all flowers.
Hoverflies are insects that look like bees and wasps in appearance. They are, in fact, flies that love hovering on flower gardens to feed on flowers, seek shade and find a mate. They, too, can aid pollination and even help control aphid populations.
Bees are considered the most unique among pollinators because they are able to gather and transfer large amounts of pollen from one flower to another. Bees rely heavily on pollen for food especially for developing bee larvae.
Examples of bee species that pollinate are squash bees (Peponapis pruinosa), bumble bees, and honey bees.
Birds are another type of pollinators and the pollination carried out by them is called ornithophily. Examples of birds that pollinate are hummingbirds, sunbirds, honeyeaters and honeycreepers.
Butterflies and Moths
Butterflies and moths also love feeding on flower nectar making them good pollinators, too. They hover over flowers during their adult stage for food. As they move from one plant to another, they become carriers of pollen.
However, the young (caterpillars) of some of these butterflies and moths can decimate plants in a very short period as well so it is a good idea to have a plan on how to manage this. One simplest way to deal with caterpillars is by manually picking them from the garden and transferring them to your sacrificial plants or an open meadow where there are plenty of grasses they can chew on.
Bats are nocturnal and because they visit plants during the night, they are mostly attracted to flowers that have light colors and are usually open during evening. They are great pollinators of various plant species such as agave, cacti, banana, avocado, and cashews.
Ways to Attract Pollinators
There are times when natural pollination becomes a struggle especially that the population of pollinators is generally declining. Thus, some interventions are needed to encourage pollinators to visit your plants.
Plant a flower garden
Not only does a flower garden create additional aesthetics, it also helps attract more pollinators. The presence of colorful flower petals and bracts help draw in bees, butterflies, birds, and other pollinators. A flower garden that has diversified species planted is even more favorable and will cater to more types of pollinators than just a single flower species.
You may purchase flowering seeds from our collection.
Plant native plants
Some pollinators have developed a symbiotic relationship with its host plant that even their life cycles are in sync with the plant’s flowering pattern. Other pollinators also prefer native plants as their host so it will be better to provide native plants, too.
Leave some flowering weeds
Some weeds bear attractive flowers that can attract pollinators. Thus, you may leave flowering weeds growing in a particular area in your garden for this purpose. Examples of these are thistles, bristly ox tongue and dandelions. Just remember to cut them after they flower to prevent their seeds from proliferating.
The presence of water gardens would also help pollinators get hydrated. Honey bees, specifically, require water to survive so there’s a need to provide water if we want to keep them within the vicinity of our gardens.
Bird boxes, bat houses, bee boxes would help shelter the pollinators especially when they raise their young. Provision of such structures would help raise their population in the area. Trees, weeds, and shrubs also provide some form of shelter to these pollinators.
Other Ways to Pollinate
Aside from animal pollination or zoophily, there are other ways of pollination that happen naturally such as wind pollination (anemophily), and water pollination (hydrophily).
Hand pollination can also be done by means of human intervention. One way depending on the plant, is by picking the male flower and rubbing the anther to the female flower’s stigma.