Plants for Pollinators: Native plants or garden flowers?

November 23rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Plants For Pollinators available from Mr F

It’s easy to think that to attract native pollinators to our gardens we need to plant native plants. But it turns out that this is not necessarily true, which is just as well because garden plants tend to be more colourful then natives.

The Royal Horticultural Society conducted some very diligent research, counting insect visitors to native and non-native plants in carefully controlled experimental plots.

These are their conclusions, and I’m going to quote their advice in full because it makes it very clear that to attract encourage pollinators we do not need to plant only native plant species.

The RHS says:

• In your garden the best strategy for gardeners wanting to support pollinating insects in gardens is to plant a mix of flowering plants from different parts of the world.

• As part of this mix aim to have more plants that are native to the UK and the northern hemisphere than the southern hemisphere. Exotic plants can be used to extend the season (especially late summer flowering) and provide nectar and pollen for some specific pollinators. Many gardeners in the UK already adopt this approach since native and northern hemisphere plants are usually very reliable in a UK climate and a smattering of more exotic plants helps provide flowers up to the first frosts and often introduces unusual flowers colours and shapes.

• Regardless of plant origin (native or non-native), the more flowers your garden can offer throughout the year, the greater the number of bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects it will attract and support.

Mr Fothergill’s highlights over two hundred plants as being attractive to pollinators and other insects. Start with these.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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