Help Wanted: A Million (and more) Pollinator Gardens

By Linda Wiggen Kraft,
Healthy Planet Green & Growing Editor

If bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators could put an advertisement out for the help they need, it would read: “help wanted – desperately needed pollinator gardens”. Pollinators need us now more than ever to help them thrive and survive. In response to this need, groups of individuals and organizations dedicated to the environment banded together in 2014 to create the “Million Pollinator Garden Challenge”. http://millionpollinatorgardens.org/ Although the goal of a million pollinator gardens was reached after a few years, the need is still there to have individuals, communities, schools, cities, public parks, botanical gardens and garden places create pollinator gardens throughout the United States and the world.

A pollinator garden is full of plants that offer pollen and food to the creatures who transfer pollen from one plant to another. This transfer of pollen allows plants to develop fruits, vegetables and create seeds. Without pollination this wouldn’t happen. One out of every three bites of food we take comes from a pollinated plant.

What to plant? Native plants are the first choice. These plants and pollinators have grown up together over long evolutionary time. Insects with certain body parts that fit exactly into the shape of the blossom itself have evolved so plant and pollinator survive together. Many other beneficial relationships have evolved between native plants and native pollinators.

Pollinator gardens for the Pollinator Challenge can be small or large. They must contain plants that provide nectar and pollen with blooms from spring through fall, have a water source, be in sunny areas and at best use no pesticides. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge website has many links to partners like the Xerxes Society and Monarch Watch that give tips on what to do to provide a habitat for monarchs and other pollinators.

The efforts of St. Louis City are recognized nationally as a place where monarch and pollinator gardens efforts are helping with the crisis of monarch butterflies. Monarchs need milkweed (asclepias) plants to survive their migration to Mexico.

Here are Milkweed for Monarchs criteria for a pollinator garden.

• Garden should contain 4 milkweed plants representing at least 2 different milkweed species (example: 2 Butterfly Weed plants and 2 Swamp Milkweed plants).

• Garden should contain 5 nectar plants representing at least 3 different species (example: 2 Purple Coneflower plants, 2 Goldenrod plants, and 1 Black-Eyed Susan plant).

• In total, garden should contain a minimum of 9 plants, covering at least one square meter (approximately 9 square feet).

There are many possibilities for creating a pollinator garden. The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge shows all the registered pollinator gardens of the challenge. Here is their website http://pollinator.org/mpgcmap/ . Although no longer registering gardens to show on the map, know that wherever your garden is, it is helping nurture and save our pollinators.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also an artist and creativity workshop leader. Here next Creativity & Mandala workshop is Oct 22. Find out more, subscribe to her blog and Instagram at website: www.creativityForTheSoul.com, Call her at 314 504-426.6