Danelle Cutting: think about adding a pollinator garden

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 28, 2015

I love pollinators, and I am grateful that we have the demonstration gardens at the Agricultural Extension office that provide them a habitat.

This year has been tough for many gardeners, with the drought and high temperatures. Many crops and flowers did not do well, which caused less honey and dried up the food sources for our beneficial insects. Luckily, our office had a few plants survive to help out some of the insects in need.

Many gardeners are now turning to pollinator gardens, and some are discovering that they had a pollinator garden already. I like to tell people that if you have a flower garden, you pretty much have a pollinator one. It’s just that sometimes, they prefer certain plants instead of others.

If you would like to see a nice example of one, stop by our office and check out our version of a pollinator garden. If you get really inspired, you should take a day trip to visit the pollinator garden in Chatham County, near the Chatham Marketplace. They have numerous tours and pollinator programs through their Chatham Cooperative Extension.

When I have visitors to the office, many of them will look at the plants, take photos of the beneficial visitors, and sometimes count the caterpillars. Just this week, I counted 20 of the Eastern black swallowtail on some of our bronze fennel.

If you are interested in trying to introduce some plants for the pollinators, I suggest you try introducing a few species at a time. Always include them in bunches of three to five; this helps reduce energy that is wasted on the pollinators that are going from one area to the next.

If you would like a simple list of some of the best pollinator plants for our area, I would suggest agriculture agent Debbie Roos’ Top 25 pollinator plant publication by visiting: http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2012/08/Top-25-Bee-Plants-.pdf?fwd=no

If you would like a more extensive pollinator plant listing, visit this link: http://growingsmallfarms.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/9/2012/08/Pollinator-Garden-Plant-List-May-2015.pdf?fwd=no

Just this week, I have been amazed watching the pollinators in the garden, counting the caterpillars and chrysalis, and even spotting monarchs.

Every year, pollinators lose more and more habitat. If we could all have pollinator friendly areas, it would help them out and create a fun activity for the family. I know the families that have stopped by have sure enjoyed watching the pollinators’ life cycle.

If you would like more information on creating a pollinator habitat, call your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.