Any good gardener knows pollinators are a necessary part of successful gardening. Attracting pollinators is essential for getting your vegetables, fruits and flowers to grow. You can help pollinators stay healthy by getting rid of the stuff that kills them and planting native plants.
Nancy Berlin, a natural resource specialist with the Virginia Cooperative Extension – a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments – said pesticides meant to control unwanted pests will also kill plant-friendly insects that pollinate plants. "It's not just the honeybees that we're worried about. There are a lot of beneficial insects that are predators and parasitoids and pollinators. Using a broad-spectrum insecticide will kill the good guys too."
While many of the native plants that are beneficial to the pollinators are planted in the spring, fall is also a good time to plant, Berlin said. "Buying plugs – rather than planting seeds – is a good idea, especially in the fall." Berlin went on to say that young plants need about an inch of water a week. If it doesn't rain, people should water the plants.
For help deciding on a plant or plant combinations, contact the Extension Horticulture Help Desk at 703-792-7747. Tell the master gardener if the planting site is shady, wet, sunny or dry, and they will help you select a low maintenance, native tree, shrub or herbaceous plant. "We can help people think through what to put in a certain spot in their yard," Berlin said.
For an extensive list of plants native to Northern Virginia and information on how you can find them, visit Plant NOVA Natives. Also, to see native plants in action and take part in free classes, visit the Teaching Garden at the Benedictine Monastery at 9535 Linton Hall Road in Bristow.