Common Milkweed © Laura Ferraguto

Take 5: Native Plants that Pollinators Love

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the biodiversity of our entire ecosystem depends on pollinators. Animals like birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, and other insects feed on plants, and in doing so, help 80% of the world’s plant species reproduce.

Over the last few decades, pollinator populations have declined dramatically due to climate change, pesticide exposure, and loss of habitat and food sources. Fortunately, we can help. One major way to make a positive impact on pollinators—and beautify an outdoor space—is to plant a native pollinator garden.

Even small outdoor spaces can provide quality habitat and help us fight biodiversity loss. A pollinator garden can range from a decorative planter with native flowers to small flowerbeds or larger vegetable gardens interspersed with flowers. 

There are several ways you can learn more and start making a difference in your backyard or neighborhood:

Enjoy these five photos of pollinator-friendly native plants and let us know in the comments how you plan to support pollinators this year!

Joe Pye Weed by Martha Gach
Joe Pye Weed by Martha Gach
Buttonbush © Cristina Hartshorn
Buttonbush © Cristina Hartshorn
Cardinal Flower © Ed Anzures
Cardinal Flower © Ed Anzures
Common Milkweed © Laura Ferraguto
Common Milkweed © Laura Ferraguto
Cranberry Bush Viburnum © Laura Bryan
Cranberry Bush Viburnum © Laura Bryan

EDIT: An earlier version of this post included a photo of Echinacea purpurea (coneflower). While great for pollinators and native to the Midwest United States, it is not native to New England.

9 thoughts on “Take 5: Native Plants that Pollinators Love

  1. Kristine H Atkinson

    Echinacea purpurea is NOT native to this region (New England)! Please remove this suggestion as native. It is a midwest/prairie introduction, common in seed mixes purporting to be native.,

    Reply
  2. Sharon B Stichter

    And according to gobotany and other sources, V. opulus is NOT NATIVE. It may be useful and non-invasive, but don’t put it in an article on Native Plants. Also, cardinal flower is very hard to grow (overwinter) in most garden settings and there are more easily grown plants for hummingbirds, e.g. beebalm.

    Reply
    1. Ryan D. Post author

      Thank you for sharing your expertise, Sharon! There is a European variety of Viburnum opulus that is considered invasive (subspecies opulus) as well as a variety that is native (Viburnum opulus var. americanum, formerly known as Viburnum trilobum), although they are difficult to differentiate.

      Reply
    2. Jill Miller

      I have not had problems overwintering cardinal flower provided it is happy where it is planted. And, of course, it overwinters itself anywhere it is growing naturally. There is a large stand of it by Snake Brook in Wayland that gets flooded many years and yet still persists and expands. It has been there for 15 years that I’ve been noticing.). There is a good patch of it next to Rice Pond in Wayland that I’ve seen for at least 5 years. It does less well in a garden situation especially if mulched.

      Reply
  3. Janet

    It would be great to have pictures with native bees instead of nonnative honey bees. (At least that’s what they look like to me.) Honey bees push out native pollinators because they are generalists and so numerous. I’m sympathetic to farmers who need them to pollinate crops, but if we are growing native plants to support native pollinators, then we shouldn’t focus on honey bees.

    Reply
    1. Ryan D. Post author

      You’re right, Jill, good eye! We have corrected it from maple leaf viburnum to cranberry bush viburnum. Thanks for catching that!

      Reply

Leave a Reply to Kristine H Atkinson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *