How To Plant A PollinatorFriendly Garden

Dated: 06/09/2018

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How to Plant a Pollinator-Friendly Garden

Help the National Pollinator Garden Network reach its goal of 1 million bee-friendly gardens—and get a pretty plot that blooms all summer long.

By this time, you’re most likely aware of the plight of the pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats, and other creatures that fertilize one-third of this country’s food crops while flying from plant to plant), whose habitats and populations have been decimated by development, parasites, and pesticides. But maybe you’re not exactly sure what you—and your Denver garden—can do about it.

Turns out, even the smallest pollinator-friendly garden can help increase species diversity across urban and suburban landscapes. This spring and summer, the National Pollinator Garden Network is spreading that message via its Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, an initiative designed to help people create more pollinator habitats by providing plant lists, hand-outs, lesson plans, training guides, and more. The goal: to reach 1 million registered “bee-friendly” gardens by National Pollinator Week, June 18–24. (Currently, there are about 700,000 registered pollinator gardens nationwide, with 419 in Denver, and 1,600 in the greater Denver area.)


It doesn’t take a lot of effort to add your garden to the list. Any habitat of any size counts, from a window box or garden plot to a golf course or school garden, so long as it meets these criteria:

  • Use plants that provide nectar and pollen sources.

  • Provide a water source.

  • Be situated in sunny areas with wind breaks.

  • Create large “pollinator targets” of native or non-invasive plants.

  • Establish continuous bloom throughout the growing season.

  • Eliminate or minimize the impact of pesticides.

Not sure what to plant? You can grab a packet of Bee Groceries, created by Carbondale-based contractor Bob Bailey, and get planting. Or, for a more personalized look, choose a mix of these spring and summer bloomers that are guaranteed to catch a pollinator’s eye (and yours!)

  • gaillardia
    GAILLARDIA Also known as blanket flower, these large, cheery blooms—we’re partial to those with yellow-tipped, red-orange petals—offer plenty of room for butterflies to perch. Leave the spent blooms for the birds, who love to snack on the seeds. Mike Bessler / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • aster
    ASTER Butterflies love this late-summer treat; you’ll love the daisy-like clusters of flowers in deep purples, lilacs, whites, and pinks. PeggyinMaine / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • butterfly weed
    BUTTERFLY WEED Monarch butterflies depend on this milkweed, which is also popular among other butterflies. The flat-topped clusters of vibrant orange flowers bloom in spring and summer. Mara Koenig/USFWS / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • lantana
    LANTANA These fast-growing, sun-loving annuals (or warm-climate shrubs) yield tight clusters of tiny, colorful summer flowers, and attract bees and butterflies for the entire growing season. Kevin Harber / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • bee balm
    BEE BALM In summer, these aromatic clusters of long-tubed flowers—in various shades of light and dark pink—attract bees, yes, but also hummingbirds. Stephanie Wallace / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • oregano
    OREGANO Let this perennial herb flower and you’ll attract a wide range of pollinators that feed on the nectar. Vicky Brock / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • sunflower
    SUNFLOWER Honeybees will make a, er, beeline to these bright, bold beacons that thrive in sunny spots. (Be sure to choose a pollen-bearing variety.) Kyle Garrity / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • penstemon
    PENSTEMON Also known as Beard Tongue, this perennial yields lots of trumpet-shaped flowers on tall spikes. The blooms range in color from pinks and purples to blues and reds—and hummingbirds love them all. Monkeystyle3000 / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • lavender
    LAVENDER You can cook and bake with these drought-tolerant plants that yield spikes of fragrant flowers in white and purple hues. Just leave some for the bees. Muhammad Ali / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • coneflower
    CONEFLOWER These perennials are a favorite among humans and butterflies for their large daisy-like blooms, cheerful colors, and easy-growing nature. Keith Ewing / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • yarrow
    YARROW Tall stems are topped by rounded clusters of tiny flowers in yellow (our favorite), red, white, lavender, and salmon. A favorite of butterflies and small, native bees. puritani35 / Flickr via Creative Commons
  • rm bee plant
    ROCKY MOUNTAIN BEE PLANT Also known as stinkweed, this showy pink wildflower does give off an unpleasant odor, but it’s irresistible to butterflies, hummingbirds, native bees, and honeybees. lostinfog / Flickr via Creative Commons
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    Sam Barnes

    We've been helping buyers and sellers make their dreams come true since 2003. Over the years we have been a part of over 1,000 sales, many of them being repeat deals with clients and referrals from cl....

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