June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week, which brings awareness to pollinators and how we can continue to protect them. This international initiative celebrates the flourishing ecosystems that bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles provide.
You may not realize that pollinators and pollinator gardens are all around us in Harnett County. Cooperative Extension Agent, Selena McKoy, shares valuable tips on the benefits of pollinator gardens in our area.
A good pollinator garden will provide a range of species to visit and flowers that bloom throughout the year, but with summer heat and sun beating down on our doorsteps, we’ll take a closer look at the summertime favorites that are easy, hardy, and showy as all get out. Also keep in mind that it’s best to use plants that are from the true species when possible. Newer cultivars are fun and colorful, but they are bred for aesthetics, which can lead to a loss of pollinator-friendly characteristics such as the amount of nectar or pollen and access to what pollen and nectar is present. All of the plants we take a closer look at can be found that Harnett County Ag Center at 126 Alexander Street in Lillington.
Yarrow is a flower full of history: its scientific name alludes to its use for treating wounds, it’s been used in beer and other drinks, and it now resides happily in many a medicinal or pollinator garden. These flowers are pleased with most conditions and won’t hesitate to take over open spaces nearby, so consider using it in an area where nothing else will grow. Yarrow shows off in full sun and dry soils, but part shade may help limit its growth. Also, keep your eyes on this stunner during the summer- beneficial, predatory wasps will also visit yarrow, not just our bumbly bees and butterflies!
Echinacea is a classic pollinator plant. This simple charm of a giant cone surrounded by delicate purple petals has made a happy home in many of our gardens already. This flower also packs a powerful pollinator punch as it not self-pollinating and relies on bees and butterflies to get the job done. Often taken as a supplement or to relieve a cold, Echinacea is yet another pollinator favorite that has roots in medicine (see what I did there?). These sturdy plants can handle full sun, fluctuations in soil moisture, and drought. Echinacea is also quick to spread and will fill in open areas.
St. John’s Wort is a unique pollinator plant. Unlike the previous plants discussed, St. John’s Wort is a shrub that dies back every winter to come back out in spring. And it’s a knockout! The deep yellow flowers have a superabundance of stamens (that is to say, a lot) that pollinators can’t get enough of. Another plant packed full of history, St. John’s Wort is named for a religious feast day, and has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, from wounds to kidney stones. Also unlike our other plants, St. John’s is happy tucked away in a cool, damp area. Full sun may prove to be a little strong, but who needs full sun with a yellow bloom like that!
So this year, consider adding pollinator plants to your garden—you won’t be disappointed! For more questions on pollinators and pollinator plants call Selena McKoy at 910-893-7530 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.