I guess the main message we like to get across is that true North American native plants are needed to sustain North American native insects.” – Becky Klukas-Brewer – Prairie Moon Nursery.
Many of you gardeners have noted fewer pollinators buzzing around for the past few years. Not just honeybees, but all pollinators. Your garden is still productive, but you might be wondering if it would be a good idea to plant your own pollinator garden. It would include flowers and grasses, and if well planned, flowers would be in bloom from spring to fall. Once you get the pollinators’ attention, you would like to be sure to have something to offer them all season.
You are in luck. Prairie Moon Nursery is offering, not just native wildflower seeds, but Pollinator Garden Kits as plants. If you order now, they will ship it directly to you in the spring. They sell in three sizes of 18, 38 or 50 plants, with a diversity of native wildflowers and grasses. For each variety they send, they include two or three of those plants and then to make it extra easy, they offer a layout suggestion, for where to place them. They also suggest how much space each plant needs and how large a space total you need to prepare. Most of their kits grow best in full sun; however, they also offer plant kits for a prairie garden, a rain garden and for planting in the partial shade. Now the big decision: where do you have a spot that is big enough?
None of the kits are the same, but most include a butterfly weed, coreopsis, coneflower and aster. For the prairie, there’s a wild quinine, goldenrod and vervain. The rain garden includes a sedge, lobelia, iris and wild indigo. In the semi-shade: columbine, bottlebrush grass, Joe Pye weed, and foxglove. Check out their Power Packs of nine plants. The monarch pack includes common milkweed, for laying eggs and hungry caterpillars; meadow blazing star, for nectar in August; goldenrod, another late season nectar source. These folks know their stuff.
I had some questions, so contacted Becky Klukas Brewer at Prairie Moon. They want you purists to know these are all native plants, not from Asia or Europe and not flashy new cultivars. They are not annuals and not invasive. Each kit is recommended for USDA zones 3-8. And if you would rather plant seeds, they offer seed mixes: from deer resistant to shady woodland and even a tallgrass exposed clay subsoil seed mix.
Local pollinator expert, Nan Vance, wants to remind us that many of our vegetable plants are non-native, but they get pollinated. Our popular honeybee is non-native and is happy to pollinate all kinds of plants, both native and non-native. Nan specifies there are some bees and wasps that are fairly specific to which plant they can or will pollinate. Prairie Moon will help you in attracting some of those. Nan adds that “if you have diversity in your garden, with a mix of plants both native and non-native, odds are pretty good you will attract a greater diversity of insects.”