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Want to help our pollinators and butterflies?  Here’s how to start looking at your property so that you can support your pollinator family in your own backyard:

  1. Walk around your property. You can have a habitat in a pot/container on up.  What are you looking for?  Places that can be left alone once the season begins.  Pollinators love benign neglect – a place to find nectar, host plants, and to nest.
  2. Choose a place to start. Outline where your pollinator bed will be – will it be new?  In a flower bed you already have?  In containers?  Wherever you decide, it should get at least 5-6 hours of sun every day, and be protected from winds.  Take note of the type of soil – clay, loam, wet, dry.  There are plants which fit all types.
  3. Decide on plants. Simply google – pollinator plants for ____(fill in the blank) soil.  Choose at least 9 different species, and 3 plants of each.  Three to bloom each in spring, summer, and fall.  The more diversity you can have in plants, the better.

 Here are a few sites with lots of good choices of plants:

http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/MidwestPlantList_web.pdf

http://www.beefriend.org/documents/Planting%20Guide.pdf

http://www.monarchwatch.org/garden/plant-list-monarchwatch.pdf

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/native-plants-for-sustainable-landscapes/

  1. Prepare the bed/space. If a new bed, clear the ground by laying down plastic or using glysophate – ALWAYS follow directions and do not use extended control.  It is important to remove unwanted weeds/plants BEFORE introducing the pollinator plants.  If the bed is being converted, simply remove the unwanted plants and introduce the new plants in the spaces between.
  2. Plant.  Look up how to plant each type, but generally follow these steps.  Dig hole so the plant easily fits and has an inch to 2 inches of space on each side – fill in with loose soil directly around the plant roots.  Native plants should not need fertilizer.  Plant so that the roots and foliage are at the same height as in the pot.   Water well after planting.
  3. Maintain over season. For the first year or 2, the plants will need to be watered if they begin to droop.  Also, because the plants are little, be sure to clear away any weeds that grow higher than the plant.  Try to have some bare soil for nesting available for the bees.
  4. Remember – Minimize or eliminate all forms of pesticide. Leave the bed alone.  Add some dead wood and additional bare ground, and you have made a perfect place for bees and butterflies to live and thrive.
  5. FREE MILKWEED – If you would like to apply for free Milkweed Plugs to plant on your property – go to: monarchzones.com and scroll down to The Great Milkweed Give Away