Plant a pollinator-friendly garden this spring: 5 things to know

With spring around the corner, green-thumbed Islanders might be looking for ways to attract pollinators to their home gardens.

Pollinators like hummingbirds, bees and butterflies are important in the process of fertilizing and producing fruits, seeds and plants on the Island.  

"A tremendous amount of our food crops are dependent upon pollinators. If we lose our pollinators we will be putting our food system into a very precarious situation," said Phil Ferraro, general manager at the P.E.I. Farm Centre in Charlottetown.

Here are a few things Ferraro says to keep in mind if you are looking to attract pollinators to your home garden this season.

1. Plan ahead

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"Pollinators start early in the spring. It's kind of important to have a succession of plants that will bloom throughout the season," said Ferraro.

Different plants bloom at different points in the season, he said. 

Plants like blueberries, haskap berries and crabapples provide early blooms for pollinators, especially honeybees, who emerge early in the spring, he said.

Lavender, sunflowers, blackberries and chives are great options to plant for mid-season, he said, while squash, coneflower and borage are excellent for the late summer and fall.

"In fall they to need to make enough honey to get through the winter, so borage is very good for that," Ferraro said.

2. Less-manicured lawn

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Keeping parts of your lawn or garden a little more on the wild side will help attract pollinators, Ferraro siad.

Planting Dutch clover in lawns and in the rows of your garden can also help draw in pollinators, he said.

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3. Butterflies love milkweed

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While all pollinators are important, there are some like butterflies that can help make for a pretty scenic backyard.

Planting milkweed is a great way to help make your garden a homey place for butterflies, Ferraro said. 

"Milkweed is probably the number one plant that attracts butterflies."

4. Water

Pollinators need a water supply handy to keep busy.

If you're lucky enough to have a stream running through your backyard — you're covered. If not, installing a bird bath is a great idea to help them replenish, Ferraro suggested — and keep the water fresh and clean.

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5. Attracting hummingbirds

Trumpet-shaped flowers such as honeysuckle make your garden more attractive to hummingbirds.

"Their long beak is well adapted to getting the pollens from trumpet-shaped flowers," Ferraro said.

Some other plants to keep in mind to help attract some hummingbirds to your garden party are red or purple hollyhock, pink or red coral bells and sage.  

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