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You're probably wondering what the big deal is about the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. Our pollinators are dying off from pesticides and destruction of habitat. According to millionpollinatorgardens.org, pollinators are responsible for every 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day.
Neither your garden or the pollinators can survive without the other. Nectar and pollen, which comes from flowers are food to pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. In return for the food, these critters will pollinate other flowers so that they can reproduce. Without them, flowers are unable to produce!
Pollinators are directly linked to our food supply. In fact, they pollinate more than 85% of the world's flowering plants and are ultimately responsible for the seed and fruits that humans, song birds, and even black bears consume. No pollinators mean no food.
There has been a rapid decline in pollinator insects, which has become a nationwide concern. There has been an unprecedented level of collaboration and efforts by national, regional, and local clubs and associations such as AmericanHort, the National Garden Bureau, and the American Public Gardens Association to create awareness for this issue.
STEP 1: Plant lots of nectar and pollen-rich flowers
Butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees are all about the colors! Also, plant as many flowers as you can that thrive in your region as possible. According to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the top eight most popular pollinator plants in Maine are Anise hyssop, butterfly milkweed, borage, white meadowsweet, summersweet, purple coneflower, white wood aster, and Greek oregano.
Also, be sure to choose a variety of plants in different shapes and sizes that will bloom at different times throughout the season.
STEP 2: Provide water
Pollinators such as butterflies will sip from shallow drinking pools, birdbaths, and mud puddles and bees and wasps use mud as a home-making material.
STEP 3: AVOID using pesticides and herbicides
Please, please, please don't use pesticides and herbicides. If it kills those bad bugs and weeds, imagine what it does to the good, pollinator insects. If you find you really need to eliminate pests, there are several natural remedies and alternatives out there that actually DO work!
STEP 4: Create a winter home for pollinators
Pollinators don't just magically appear in the spring when the flowers bloom. They need a warm, cozy place to hibernate when it turns cold. Leave cut plant stems exposed, turn pots that have drainage holes upside down, leave twigs and brush in small piles, create mud puddles, or put out pieces of string or other light fibers.