Top pollinator-friendly plants – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Establishing a backyard pollinator garden is easy. There are many options, but some local garden experts have their favorites.
Tanya Finney, superintendent of South Coast Botanic Garden, said selections should be based on the type of pollinator gardeners are looking to attract. Perennial herbs, shrubs and trees are best for pollinators.
“The colorful flowers of bedding annuals are wonderful for people, but often don’t provide the pollinators with their pollen or nectar food, so they wouldn’t be considered a good choice for a pollinator garden,” she said.
But gardeners don’t have to sacrifice color.
“Bees will visit a wide range of plants for pollen as well as nectar,” Finney said. “The mint family provides a wide range of excellent pollinator plants including salvias, basils and mints. Tubular flowers will attract hummingbirds. And for a butterfly garden, the important food plant is to provide food for the caterpillars. Introducing just a few milkweed plants to your garden can provide habitat for butterfly caterpillars, which will become butterflies.
“California native plants are a great choice for pollinators since they are often the natural food of our local pollinators. Buckwheat, salvia and California fuchsia are some excellent garden choices with many varieties found locally throughout Southern California.”
Carol Bornstein, director of the native gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, agreed. She said California natives are accustomed to local climates and are more drought tolerant. Her top choices are all natives. They are Nassella cernua (nodding needlegrass); Bouteloua gracilis (blue grama); Eschscholzia californica (California poppy); Layia platyglossa (tidy tips); Clarkia amoena (farewell to spring); Nemophila menziesii (baby blue eyes); Penstemon heterophyllus (foothill penstemon); Aster chilensis (coast aster) ‘Purple Haze’; Sisyrinchium bellum (blue-eyed grass); and Eriogonum giganteum (St. Catherine’s lace).
Antonio Sanchez, production manager of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden, suggests California buckwheat (spring-summer flowers) for bees and butterflies; Encelia californica and Encelia farinosa, aka brittlebrush (spring-summer flowers) also for bees and butterflies; and Zauschneria californica, aka California fuchsias (summer-fall flowers) for hummingbirds.
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