You’d do well to have the bucolic bee, along with the hummingbird and a range of other cross-pollinating insects, perennially visit your garden during the cool months of autumn. What’s that you say? Bees and other pollinators are active during the fall? Yes, they absolutely are active during the fall, even if that throws your mind for the proverbial elliptical loop. (Most people envision pollinators as being strictly spring and summer animals.)
With its longer nights and varied rainfall patterns, the cool season of autumn tends to encourage plant growth in the roots rather than the above-ground stem and leaves. With fewer flowers blossoming in the fall, what can an amateur gardener do to attract pollinators such as the bumble bee during the late season of the year?
Here are some guidelines that throw light on this question:
Research the Life Cycles of Plants and Pollinators
In case you didn’t know, pollinators feed off pollen and nectar plant sources all year long. Nectar provides energy for adult bees, for example, while protein-packed pollen typically nourish and sustain their young. To attract bees and other pollinators to your autumn garden, plant a wide variety of plants that bloom during the different seasons of the year. According to the experts, a garden diversity pool of a minimum of 20 different plant types draws a good mix of different bee species.
However, if you keep a small garden, plant seedlings that will generate both pollen and nectar. Your goal should be to have pollinator-attracting blossoms swishing in your garden from February to October.
Incorporate Indigenous Plant Species
Native plants that are indigenous to your local soil and climate are more likely to draw in pollinators of local origin. By creating an ecosystem that is in tune with the floral idiosyncrasies of your region, you invite native birds and cross-pollinating insects to consistently frolic among your plants.
Keep in mind that native floral and pollinator species took millions of years to forge a seamless symbiotic relationship in your part of the world. Interrupting this by favoring non-native plant species will simply make for a “dead zone” of a garden to some native pollinators – something you definitely don’t want.
Structure Your Garden
To enhance the beauty of your garden to all viewers eyeing your landscape, cleverly plant your green things in such a way that makes it easy for humans to observe visiting pollinators feeding off your flowers. Plant your taller shrubs and plants in the back of the garden, while creating a space for smaller or shorter plants in the foreground. You can also designate garden space for “plant islands” to allow for easier viewing.
Keep Plants Out of the Shade
Bees, for example, tend to gravitate towards flowering plants that are in direct sunlight over those that mostly stay in the shade. Record exactly where and when the sunlight hits your garden space so that you can plant sun-loving plants, that attract pollinators, in the most illuminated areas of the yard.
On Annuals, Perennials and Shrubs
Honey bees like to harvest one variety or a few varieties of flowers per trip. To entice them, plant a larger group of one type of flower to make way for a more efficient foraging. Expert gardeners recommend creating minimum-sized patches of 3.5 ft x 3.5 ft of flowers of the same ilk.
Among the plants that look good all year long are Hydrangeas, Pagoda dogwood and Ninebarks.
Skip Pesticide Use
Pesticides wipe out all lovable insects that fly through your garden, besides the unwanted ones. Consider using natural or organic pest-busting methods and insecticides to check the spread of unwanted pests in your garden. Consult with local eco-gardening experts who know how to control pest populations while fostering the growth of your plants.
Gardening a pollinator-friendly garden may pose some challenges for the inexperienced gardener, but once you’ve done your research on what draws cross-pollinating insects and birds, and implemented the tips explained above, you will have created a pretty garden of toothsome nectar and pollen delights for your pollinator friends.