With Ohioans spending more time at home than ever (keep up the good work!) it’s the perfect time to grow a garden. Gardening can be beneficial in a practical sense by providing food and herbs for us to eat, but it can also give us all some much needed stress-relief. I know that for me, it has been a great therapy and provides a sense of peace and calming (especially because I’m the mom to three young boys).
While it’s a tad early to plant all of the vegetables or flowers you may want to grow this year, it isn’t too early to start planning or to plant some cold-hardy flowers and veggies (like spinach or peas). And it’s the perfect time to plant a pollinator garden to help aid our bee, butterfly and hummingbird friends. Not only are pollinator gardens lovely to look at, but they provide a vital source of food and shelter to the pollinators who in turn are vital to the production of many food crops and are essential to the survival of many native plants here in Ohio. Here are some tips for planting your own!
Plan where your garden will go
The best location for a pollinator garden is a nice sunny spot. It can be as simple as a few containers on your patio or you can designate an area of your yard. You can plant a few simple pots or till up a whole area. Grouping plants together in sunny locations helps pollinators find and feed on desirable flowers while expending less energy in the search for plants. Choose an area that isn’t too windy, because pollinators won’t like those areas.
Map out which plants you will include
When choosing plants try to use a mix of colors and textures. That makes your garden more attractive to different pollinators as well as more pleasing to look at. Different pollinators are attracted to different colors. Bees like blue, purple, yellow and white. Butterflies prefer red, yellow, orange, pink and purple blooms. And birds like many of the same colors, like red, pink, orange, yellow and blue.
When planning your garden map out when they bloom, and fill in any gaps in timing. This will ensure pollinators always have something to eat. Different species of bees, butterflies and other pollinators are active in Ohio at different times of the year. Gardeners can help pollinators by planting flowers with a sequence of bloom throughout the growing season, from early spring through late fall. If you choose a variety of plants with different bloom seasons you can keep your garden lovely from spring through fall as well as assist your pollinators throughout those seasons.
Gantz Gardens, Grove City
Include Native Plants
Here is a list of some Ohio-native plants to consider including:
- White and Purple Asters
- Butterfly Weed
- Giant Milkweed
- Purple Star Thistle
- Giant Catmint
- Ohio Spiderwort
Some additional pollinator-friendly plants that aren’t necessarily Ohio-natives but are still great to consider are:
Coneflower (especially purple and yellow)
Blazing Star Liatris
Joe Pye Weed
Once you have your garden spot selected, the plants mapped out by blooming season, and have made sure to include some native options you are ready to get started. Nurseries are considered essential businesses in Ohio and many are allowing online or phone orders and curb-side pick-up. Try to keep your local nurseries and smaller businesses in mind when planning your gardens, especially this year. And don’t forget to get your kids involved in the planting! It will get them moving, get them outside, and help teach them where they’re food comes from (it definitely counts as science and math!).
Helping pollinators while supporting local businesses — what could be better than that? Happy planting, Ohio!