Pollinators are declining globally. One way to help maintain the local pollinator population is to plant native plants in your garden. Non-native plants don’t work as well because native insects and pollinators prefer native plants. Fortunately, there are plenty of plants to choose from: California has 7,000 native plant species. Landscape architect Juanita Salisbury shares some tips for planting your own pollinator garden. Juanita is the found of Primrose Way Pollinator Garden, a volunteer group that transforms local public spaces into pollinator and insect habitats. Learn more about the Primrose Way Pollinator Garden on Facebook and support them on their GoFundMe page.
What Plants to Use and Why
- Use local, native California plants to create your plant palette.
- Native plants and pollinators evolved together and these plants provide nutrients and compounds required for reproduction. Native insects won’t survive on non-native plants, which become “dead-ends” for transferring the sun’s energy into the ecosystem, with a resulting cascade effect on other species.
- Native plants are largely preferred over nonnative plants by pollinators.
- Nonnative plants can escape cultivation and infest natural areas, and/or bring in disease and exotic insects.
- Use at least 3 species of plants that bloom during each of the early, mid and late seasons (ie, 9 different species minimum).
- Pollinators emerge at different times, and providing overlapping bloom times will keep them foraging in the garden.
- Providing a diversity of bloms and plant resources will attract a diversity of pollinators.
- A garden with at least 20 different types of blooming plants is ideal for attracting a diversity of pollinators.
- Consider plants as a buffet… or a salad bar, with nectar and pollen for bees.
Also consider if that plant provides other vegetative resources (larval food). Helpful hint: check out the plant finder tool (beta version) at www.nwf.org.
- Plant in layers
Plant trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs. Think of these as layers that build in complexity.
- Start small
Start small, unless starting from scratch (less disruption). Add more plants over time as appropriate.
Plants Used at the Primrose Way, Arcadia Place, Island Drive and Guinda Street Gardens
Achillea millefolium californica
Arctostaphylos densiflora ‘Howard McMinn’
Brodiaea californica ‘Babylon’
Ceanothus maritimus ‘Valley Violet’
Ceanothus rigidus ‘Snowball’
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ‘skylart’
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
Eriogonum fasciculatum foliolosum
Eriogonum grande rubescens
Eschscholzia californica var. maritima
Frageria vesca californica
Grindelia stricta v. platyphylla
Malacothamnus palmeri var. lucianus
Monardella villosa ‘Russian River’
Philadelpus lewisii ‘Goose Creek’
Salvia ‘Bee’s Bliss’
Salvia apiana ‘compacta’
Soladago velutina californica
Verbena lilcina ‘de la Mina’
As well as various annuals…
Native Plant Sources
California Flora Nursery
Yerba Buena Nursery
Bay Natives Nursery
East Bay Wilds
Oaktown Native Nursery
Mostly Native Nursery
Klamath Siskiyou Native Seeds
Photos of the Primrose Way Pollinator Garden