Earlier this year Wyoming’s Community Garden took root in its new location on Van Roberts Place, just north of Wyoming Avenue. Ever since it’s been buzzing—and not just with enthusiastic gardeners growing delicious fruits and veggies for their table, but also with industrious insects known as pollinators.
These bees, butterflies and other insects are intentionally attracted to a plot planted by Wyoming’s Urban Forestry and Beautification Commission (UFBC), because of the crucial role they play in the production of fruits and vegetables.
As pollinators feed on nectar, they unintentionally collect pollen on their bodies from the male part of the flower. When they visit other flowers of the same species, the pollen transfers to the female part of another flower and fertilizes the plant—the first step to producing fruits, vegetables and seeds.
There are many popular and common plants known to attract pollinators. The UFBC selected a variety of flower colors and shapes that are attractive to both humans and pollinators. Plants were also selected so there is continuous blooming throughout the fruit and vegetable growing season (there is a full list of the plants in the pollinator plot at the end of the article).
Annuals such as Zinnias and Marigolds do an exceptional job at drawing in pollinators with their vibrant flowers, which bloom throughout the summer. UFBC planted perennials, including Lavender, Purple Coneflower and Joe PyeWeed, which return year after year and bloom later in the season, from mid- and late-summer to fall.
The pollinator plot also includes herbs, like Parsley and Thyme, which bloom earlier in the season, from mid-spring to mid-summer. While these herbs provide a wonderful aroma in the garden and flavor in our food, they also attract and serve pollinators. For example, parsley is a host plant for swallowtail butterflies. The butterfly larva (youth stage) depends on the herb for both food and shelter. Having host plants as well as nectar plants in the garden helps to support all stages of a pollinator’s life cycle.
The UFBC encourages residents to include plants in their gardens that will benefit pollinators. These plants will add beauty and diversity to your garden. They will draw fun-to-watch butterflies, bees and birds. Best of all these plants will help support the pollinators, which are an essential link in the cycle of plant production.
- Dill Weed, Anethum graveolens
- Pineapple Sage, Salvia elegans
- Parsley, Petroselinum crispum
- Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis
- Thyme, Thymus vulgaris
- Purple Bean, Lablab purpureus
- Nasturtiums, Tropaeolum spp.
- Zinnias, Zinnia spp.
- Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa
- Catmint, Nepeta cataria
- Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium purpureum
- Lavender, Lavandula spp.
- Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea