Since June 17 – 23, 2019 is National Pollinator Week, here are a basics on why pollination is important to homeowners and few ideas on how to have a pollinator friendly garden.

What is a pollinator garden?

A pollinator garden is designed and planted with specific nectar and pollen producing plants that attracts pollinating birds, bees, butterflies, bats & insects.

What is pollination & Why is it important to you?

Pollination is a fertilization stage in the flowering plant life cycle. Pollen moved within a flower or one flower to another of the same species leads to fertilization. This transfer of pollen is necessary for reproduction of our agricultural ecosystem. Some is done by wind, but most is done by insects and vertebrate animals.

  • 75% of flowering plants need pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, flies, moths, ants, wasps and beetles, and vertebrate pollinators like birds, bats, and small mammals carry grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
  • One third of all foods and beverages producing $20 billion of products are delivered by pollinators.

What is the issue and What can homeowners do to help?

Colorado’s rapid urban development is reducing Colorado’s natural habit for our pollinators and wildlife. Homeowners can use our urban landscapes spaces to fill the gap by planting pollinator friendly plants that attract insects such as bees, butterflies, flies, moths, ants, wasps and beetles, and vertebrate pollinators like birds, bats, and small mammals. Pollinator-friendly native flowering plants supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes. Pollinators can lay their eggs on these nesting sites. When the eggs hatch, the leaves of the host plant are instant food.

Bottom Line – Local Gardeners Can Make a Difference to Help Protect Our Native Pollinators by Planting Pollinator Gardens!

What Are Native Pollinator-Friendly Plants?

The Colorado Native Plant Society is a great resource for learning about pollinator-friendly native plants that require little water. Listed below are their recommendations for Pollinator Gardens.

Herbs – If you like growing herbs for your the kitchen, plant rosemary, sage, thyme, basil, mint, and lavender.


Early Season Wildflowers – Nodding Onion, Sulphur Flower, Wallflower, Prairie Smoke, Firecracker Penstemon, Blue Mist Penstemon, Pasque Flower, Golden Banner.

Early Season Wildflowers

Mid-Season Wildflowers – Pearly Everlasting, Showy Milkweed, Harebells, Aspen Daisy, Blanket flower, Beebalm, Rocky Mtn. Penstemon, Black-eyed Susan

Mid-Season Wildflowers

Late-Season Wildflowers – Rocky Mtn. Bee Plant, Common Sunflower, Prairie Sunflower, Spotted Gayfeather, Tansy Aster, Goldenrod.

Late-Season Wildflowers

Shrubs – Rabbitbrush, Chokecherry, Golden Currant, Woods Rose, Boulder Raspberry

Pro Tips on Planning for Pollinator Gardens

Pollinator gardens are designed to be primarily planted with flowers and shrubs which provide nectar, pollen, and homes for pollinating insects. Here are some Pro Tips on planning your pollinator garden.

  1. Group shrubs flowers of the same kind in large groups.
    Many insects are attracted only to species of flowers. Have three of more species of flowering plants to increase a diversity of pollinators. Planting flowers in large groups of 3 or more makes it easier for pollinators to locate their preferred plant, and it means less work in moving pollen from one flower to another.
  2. Plan for a succession of flowers for season long color.
    Choose three species of plants from each season to provide food and shelter for pollinators and seasonal color all season long. Pollinators need pollen or nectar from early spring until autumn in order breed and reproduce to sustain their species.
  3. Choose a sunny site to plant your pollinator garden.
    Pollinating insects and flowering plants do better when in warm sunny environment rather than damp and shady areas in your landscape. Butterflies and bees attracted to sunny areas have more choices to pollinate flower and lay eggs on shrubs and trees. Leave areas of bare soil for ground nesting bees. They make up the most of Colorado’s native bee population.
  4. Utilize small spaces
    Hanging baskets, container gardens and windowsill baskets can provide a welcome stop for pollinators even in the smallest of spaces.
  5. Minimize pesticides.
    Pests are rarely a problem in nature friendly gardens because they are controlled by birds and other predators. If pests like aphids become a problem use an organic method to control them such as soapy water, Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and horticultural oils, or ladybugs. If insecticides are necessary, apply them when the pollinators are less active – at dawn or at dusk.

Pollinator Gardens – Design & Plants Selection Ideas

Below are 3 examples of Pollinator Garden and Plant Selection Ideas for attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

Design & Plants Selection Ideas

Bee Design

This plan includes plants that bloom from spring through fall, providing a season-long buffet for bees.

A. Chocolate Toe Pye weed.
B. Rozanne cranesbill Geranium hybrid.
C. Little Goldstar black-eyed Susan.
D. Cat’s Meow catmint.
E. Orange calendula (aka pot marigold).
F. Garden thyme.
G. Snow Princess sweet alyssum.

Bee Design

Butterfly Design

These colorful pollinator plants will attract butterflies all season long.

A. Kobold blazing star.
B. Purple Dome aster.
C. Butterfly weed.
D. Magnus purple coneflower.
E. Profusion Orange zinnia.
F. Peach Melba.
G. Snow Princess

Hummingbird Design

Hexagonal shape

can be configured in a variety of ways to suit your space.

Through raised beds

with a trellis is good against a wall.

Raised beds

Butterfly Design

Hummingbird Design.

Tube-shaped blooms in bright colors will attract hummingbirds all season 

A. Rocket’s Red Glare.
B. Raspberry Daiquiri hummingbird mint
C. Rubycunda beardtongue
D. May Night salvia (aka meadow sage)
E. Tassel™ Dark Salmon fuchsia
F. Empress of India nasturtium
G. Terra Cotta Million Bells®


The 2019 poster, Endangered Pollinators and their Habitats, features beautiful artwork by Carol Schwartz. This poster displays the numerous pollinator species that are at risk and listed as federally endangered or threatened including: 1 fly, 3 bats, 5 birds, 8 bees, and 24 butterflies and moths. Disturbances such as habitat loss, climate change, and application of agricultural pesticides contribute greatly to diminishing populations and disrupting ecological interactions. Extinction can lead to a crippling disaster for ecological resilience and economic interests.

By clicking the poster below, you will be taken to the Pollinator Partnership Poster Page where you can order posters.


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