Celebrate Earth Day by Planting for Pollinators

Posted by National Honey Board on April 20, 2018

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April 22 is Earth Day, and to us, it feels like the official mark of the spring season, even though the first day of spring was technically in March. This time of year we get to see the return of our favorite pollinators in gardens and parks around the country. It is thanks to these bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and even beetles, that we get to enjoy beautiful floral landscapes and delicious fruits, vegetables and other pollinated treats we have grown accustomed to (coffee, anyone?).

There's no doubt that these pollinators are vital to our way of life. Did you know that nearly one-third of the U.S. diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and honey bees are responsible for 80% of that process? In fact, by doing what comes naturally to them, pollinators contribute billions of dollars to U.S. agriculture. It is thanks to these pollinators that we get to enjoy avocados, blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and almonds, just to neam a few, but in order to continue enjoying the fruits of their labors (see what we did there...?), we need to make sure we protect and help these pollinators, and we've got five easy ways to do just that, but today we want to talk specifically about planting pollinator-friendly gardens.

Just like us, it is important that pollinators have access to a varied diet of plants, pollen, and nectar. By planting a variety of flowering plants, you help our pollinators stay healthy and strong, but just as every ecosystem is different, so are the native plants that populate them. Today we are exploring eight different regions of the U.S. and the best pollinator-friendly plants to populate your garden.

Middle Rocky Mountain Steppe Province:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Bitterbrush, Thimbleberry, Elderberry
  • Perennial Flowers: Marsh Marigold, Parsnipflower Buckwheat, Bitterroot, Oregon Grape, Lewis' Monkeyflower, Butterweed

Outer Coastal Palin Mixed Province:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Sweet Pepperbrush, Titi- Leatherwood, Fothergilla, Sweet Bay, Dwarf Palmetto
  • Perennial Flowers: Eastern Horsemint, Stoke's Aster, Seaside Goldenrod

Lower Mississippi Riverine Forest:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Red Buckeye, Buttonbush, Sweetleaf
  • Perennial Flowers: Wild Onion, Butterfly Weed, Prickly Pear, Mountain Mint, Ironweed
  • Vines: Passion Flower, Trumpet-creeper

California Coastal Steppe:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Bigleaf Maple, Blue Blossom, Scouler's Willow
  • Perennial Flowers: Calypso Orchid, Beach Strawberry, Columbia Lily
  • Annual Flowers: Baby Blue Eyes, Bull Clover

Intermountain Semidesert & Desert:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Big Sagebrush, Fernbush, Apache Plume
  • Perennial Flowers: Prickly-Poppy, Umbrella Desert Buckwheat, Prickly Pear Cactus, Globemallow

Great Plains Steppe & Shrub:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Silver Maple, Chickasaw Plum, Black Willow
  • Perennial Flowers: Fringed Bluestar, Prairie Milkweed, Blue Wild Indigo, White Prairie Clover, Prairie Petunia, Missouri Goldenrod

Southwest Plateau Dry Steppe:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Velvet Mesquite, Chickasaw Plum, Bush's Blackberry
  • Perennial Flowers: Butterfly Milkweed, Purple Poppymallow, Bailey's Hedgehog Cactus, Missouri Goldenrod

Prairie Parkland, Temperate Province:

  • Trees & Shrubs: Blackberry, Raspberry, Willow, Hawthorn
  • Perennial Flowers: Wild Columbine, Swamp Milkweed, Prairie Clover, Sunflower, Goldenrod
  • Vines: Trumpet Vine or Creeper

Don't see your area listed? Don't worry. This is not an exhaustive list, so please check out more detailed Ecoregional Planting Guides provided by our friends at the Pollinator Partnership.

We want to hear from you! What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comments below.