Creating a pollinator garden in New England is a great way to support the local ecosystem and enjoy a vibrant, colorful outdoor space. By planting flowers, shrubs, and trees that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, you can help ensure the health and survival of these important species, as well as add beauty to your garden.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there are a few key tips to keep in mind when planning and planting your pollinator garden in New England.
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New England Pollinator Garden: A Few Tips To Get You Started
In this guide, I’ll show you some tips you need to create a buzzing habitat in your own backyard.
1. Choose The Right Plants
Unfortunately, pollinator populations are declining due to habitat loss and pesticide use.
One of the most important things you can do to attract pollinators is to choose the right plants.
Native plants are best, as they have evolved to thrive in your local environment and are more attractive to native pollinators.
Some great options for New England gardens include Milkweed, Coneflowers, Goldenrod, black-eyed Susan, and Bee Balm.
2. Provide Shelter
Pollinators need a safe place to rest and shelter from the elements. You can provide this by adding features such as birdhouses, bee hotels, and brush piles to your garden. These structures will give pollinators a safe place to rest and breed.
In my garden, I hung a pollinator house last year on the back of a raised bed with a trellis. Not only are they pollinator friendly they look really nice in your garden.
Pollinator Houses, Hummingbird Feeders, & Bird Baths
3. Avoid Pesticides
Pesticides are toxic to pollinators and can have a devastating impact on their populations. Instead of using pesticides, try using natural methods to control pests, such as companion planting, handpicking, and using insecticidal soaps.
In my garden, I do use companion planting. This is a method of planting certain plants together that will help to deter pests.
I will plant marigolds near tomatoes to keep aphids away. To try and keep cucumber beetles away I plant radishes under my cucumber trellis and just leave them to grow all season.
Some natural pesticides to try are neem oil, insecticidal soap, and garlic spray. It’s very easy to find them nowadays and they are stocked at the home improvement stores & even Walmart.
4. Create A Water Source
Pollinators need water to survive, so adding a water source to your garden is important. You can create a simple water source by filling a shallow dish with water and adding some rocks for insects to land on.
You don’t need a fancy bird bath either! In my herb bed, I flipped a terra cotta pot upside down and added a terra cotta saucer on top. In the saucer, I added a handful of glass stones to create resting spots for pollinators.
I have small water sources scattered throughout all my garden spaces with pollinators in mind.
5. Plant for Seasonal Blooms
Different pollinators are active at different times of the year, so it’s important to plant for seasonal blooms.
By choosing plants that bloom at different times, you can provide a constant source of food for pollinators throughout the growing season.
Here in New England, our growing season starts later than many parts of the country so most of our native pollinators won’t start flowering until mid-summer.
Later in the garden season, my zinnia beds are buzzing…literally! From sunrise to nightfall there are bees and butterflies hanging out here. Zinnias flower in New England from July until the first frost.
A fun pollinator in the garden is the hummingbird moth. They even sound like a hummingbird as they flutter about the plants sipping nectar. Have you ever seen one in your garden?
Naturalized Pollinator Plants for New England
Naturalized pollinator plants for New England are those that are native to the region and have adapted to the local climate and soils, making them excellent choices for attracting and supporting native pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Here are some examples of naturalized pollinator plants that are perfect for your New England garden and do well in our growing climate:
- Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca): This native plant is essential for monarch butterflies as it is the primary host plant for their caterpillars. Its flowers are also a source of nectar for adult butterflies.
- Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata): Another native milkweed, swamp milkweed provides nectar for adult monarchs and is an important host plant for their caterpillars.
- Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): A brightly colored, drought-tolerant native plant, butterfly weed is a great source of nectar for adult monarchs and other pollinators.
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): This cheerful native plant produces bright yellow flowers with dark centers that bloom from midsummer to early fall. It attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with its nectar and pollen.
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): This hardy native plant has showy purple-pink flowers that attract a variety of pollinators, including monarch butterflies.
- New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae): Late-blooming and drought-tolerant, this native plant produces vibrant purple-pink flowers that are a great source of nectar for adult monarchs.
- Goldenrod (Solidago spp.): Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod does not cause allergies, but it is an important late-season source of nectar for many pollinators, including monarch butterflies.
- Bee balm (Monarda): This native plant produces clusters of pink to lavender flowers that bloom from midsummer to early fall. It attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds with its nectar-rich blooms.
Two of my favorite New England sources for seeds are Johnny’s Seeds and Select Seeds has lots of native pollinator seeds available (I just ordered some!)
These are just a few examples of the many naturalized pollinator plants that are suitable for New England. By incorporating these plants into your garden or landscape, you can help support local pollinator populations while adding beauty to your surroundings.
Grow With Me Gardening Series
This is part of the Grow With Me Gardening Series here at Cottage On Bunker Hill. I want to teach you ways of starting, maintaining, and enjoying gardening. I will share all the tips & tricks that I have learned over the years growing both vegetable and flower gardens here in the Northeast.
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This is such great information. I’ve never thought about a water source. I plant marigolds next to my tomatoes. But I learned so much more from this post. Thank you for sharing.