The recently installed Pollinator Garden is one of three new areas at the Las Flores Learning Garden, a partnership between UC Master Gardeners of Napa County and the City of Napa. The Pollinator Garden transformed a weed-filled area into a pollinator-friendly home to nurture these necessary insects and other pollinating animals.
Fall is the best time to get your new ornamental plants settled in your landscape. However, due to various delays, the garden at Las Flores was planted in the heat of summer in June of 2022. Not the optimum time to install any new landscape plants, we chose to look at the experience as a perfect teaching opportunity. This flourishing garden is the result of careful monitoring and shows that, though it's not optimum, planting can be done in the summer. It just takes a much more hands-on effort to achieve.
• About 35% of the world's food crops and ¾ of the world's flowering plants need pollinators to reproduce.
• More than 3,500 native bee species increase crop yields pollinating as they gather food from flitting from flower to flower.
• Many scientists believe that one out of every three bites of food we consume is there because of animal pollinators.
• These are all pretty compelling reasons to encourage bees, butterflies and moths, birds and bats, and beetles and other insect pollinators in any landscape!
Here are some ideas:
Plant a continuous food supply. When choosing plants for a pollinator garden look at what plants attract which pollinator and the bloom times of those plants. Include plants that bloom at different times. This way there will always be something for pollinators to eat. Make sure to include early and late bloomers to feed the pollinators late in the year and early in the spring. If you plant each plant in multiple groupings you'll get more “bang for your buck.”
Include a diversity of plants. Mix it up and include plants with different flowers, sizes, shapes and colors as well as alternating bloom times. These differences will support multiple types of pollinators
Leave those pesky dandelions alone in the spring because these are often the first food source for bees emerging in the spring. The leaves make great salads for humans, too.
Avoid pesticide use. Pesticides are often non-specific killers of insects, killing even the good guys.
The Pollinator Garden at Las Flores has over fifty-four varieties of pollinator encouraging plants. Each plant was chosen because they attracted pollinators, either specialized or multiple varieties, and most have low water requirements. With bees buzzing, hummingbirds flitting about and several monarch butterfly sightings the question of why we need these gardens has been answered.
Weeds– An ongoing upkeep chore, an application of 1-2 inches of mulch and hand removal of weeds were suggested control methods. Make sure the mulch is at least 2 inches from the base of each plant to prevent root rot.
Pruning– Different plants have individual requirements for pruning needs. Research the cultural needs of your plants.
Deadheading– Removal of dead flowers rewards the effort with more blooms. Leaving spent blooms on the plants for the birds is also an option for some of these plants.
Soil health– Leaving the roots in the ground of the cut down annuals will contribute to soil health. Allow fallen leaves to remain on the ground when possible except in fire prone areas.
Napa Master Gardeners are available to answer garden questions by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. or phone at 707-253-4143. Volunteers will get back to you after they research answers to your questions.
Visit our website: napamg.ucanr.edu to find answers to all of your horticultural questions.
Photo credits: Laurie Budash
Las Flores Learning Garden Pollinator Plants list https://napamg.ucanr.edu/DemoGarden/g4/
UC ANR Best time to plant https://ucanr.edu/sites/ucmgplacer/files/171559.pdf
Encouraging Native Bees https://cagardenweb.ucanr.edu/General/Encouraging_Native_Bees_-_Other_Pollinators/
Make a Pollinator Garden https://ucanr.edu/sites/PollenNation/How_to_Join/Make_a_Pollinator_Garden/
How to attract and maintain pollinators in your garden https://anrcatalog.ucanr.edu/pdf/8498.pdf
UCMG statewide blog: Creating a Pollinator garden https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=18074
USDA The Importance of Pollinators https://www.usda.gov/peoples-garden/pollinators#:~:text=Pollinators%20by%20Numbers,bees%20help%20increase%20crop%20yields.