butterflies

The Birds, The Bees, & The Butterflies

Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the stamen (male part of the flower) to the pistil (female part of the flower), which results in the formation of a seed.

Hybrids are created when the pollen from one kind of plant is used to pollinate and entirely different variety, resulting in a new plant altogether.

Did you know?

  • Ladybugs eat harmful pests such as aphids, mites and scale.
  • Mason bees pollinate up to 1500 blossoms per day!
  • Butterflies help gardens grow by pollinating native plants and are a sign of a healthy garden.

Here are some easy steps you can take to make your yard more pollinator-friendly:

1. Plant flowers & plants that attract pollinators!

As you may have guessed, planting plants and flowers that support pollination is a great place to start. If you’re already planting something, why not make them pollinators! Try Echinacea, Sunflowers, or Black-Eyed Susans from Hole's.

2. Plan your yard so you always have something in bloom

Do your research before planting and find out when different plants bloom. Always having at least one plant in bloom is a great way to attract pollinators AND it makes your yard look great too!

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3. Plant native plants

Native plants help native species pollinate. Many plant and animal species have adapted to environmental changes together, making them a great team. Let’s help them remain a great team! Consider a Lady’s Slipper in Alberta. When bees and other insects enter the pouch of the Lady Slipper, they can only exit through the back of the flower. This forces the insect to pass through pollen, which then spreads to the next plant the insect visits. Lady Slippers are perennials, blooming in May and June. Get yours at Hole’s!

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4. Pick up a Wildlife Habitat!

Your yard is already home to insects galore, so why not give bees a proper place to rest their wings? Wildlife Habitats, also called nests or houses, are a great way to attract pollinators to your family’s flower or vegetable garden.

Special Bee Hotels are places for solitary bees to make their nests. These bees live alone, not in hives. They do not make honey. Solitary bees are much less likely to sting than honeybees because they aren’t defending a hive.

Hole's carries specialty wildlife homes for ladybugs, butterflies, bees, & more!

Planting for Pollinators

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Cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins were vegetables that we always grew on the farm. We had two main strategies that we used to increase our chances of maximizing our yields:
 
First, we only planted these heat-loving crops near our shelterbelts. The trees in the shelterbelts reduced wind speeds and provided a warm microclimate that these vegetables loved. Open fields were always cooler than fields protected by shelterbelts; plus, delicate, heat-loving crops like cucumbers, squash, and pumpkins tended to get beat-up in windy spots.
 
Secondly, we always had local beekeepers place their hives adjacent to these crops to ensure that they would visit the flowers and pollinate the plants. These cucurbit crops (as they are referred to) must have their pollen transferred from male to female flowers in order to fruit andas we all knowbees are terrific at this task.
 
In our own urban yards, encouraging bees and other pollinators to visit is not difficult if you choose the flowers that they like. Plants like...

Sunflowers – During blooming season sunflowers offer a rich pollen and nectar source for foraging honey bees, native bees, and any other garden pollinators.


At maturity, when the centre disk florets have dried up, these black-seeded sunflowers provide particularly oil-rich kernels with somewhat softer shells than others, yielding an abundance of nutritious feasts for birds of all sorts.


Zinnias & Cosmos – These two types of flowers are favourites of butterflies. Butterflies are attracted to blossom shapes and colours, so plantings should be made in mass blocks rather than a few isolated plants here and there.


Planting these flowers behind each other produces an ideal combination of flowers at differing heights, offering your visitors a choice of where to feed and rest.


Scarlet Runner Beans & Nasturtiums – Low, mounding, Summer Charm nasturtiums and tall, climbing, Scarlet Runner Beans are a sure fit for hummingbirds’ nectar-seeking bills.


These flowers offer an ideal combination of different blossoms and vegetation at varying height levels, providing your intended visitors with a choice of where to feed, rest, and roost.


Hummingbirds expend an enormous amount of energy for their size, and require an enormous amount of food—you can’t have too many flowers! After locating convenient nectar sources, these intelligent little creatures follow a foraging routine in a relatively small area (despite their ability to roam) and will return for ongoing meals from your garden.


Finally, asclepias (or "milkweed") is a plant that we get a lot of questions about from people look for a butterfly-friendly flower. Most known as a nectar source for monarch butterflies (a rare sight in Edmonton), milkweed is a favourite of other pollinators as well.

The Butterfly Mixture from Aimers Seeds is a good mix of flowers that attracts butterflies as well.  This mix contains a bit of everything for pollinators, including: alyssum, African daisy, bachelor buttons, milkweed, candy tuft, columbine, purple and Prairie coneflowers, plains coreopsis, cosmos, flax, California poppy, and Siberian wallflower.

~Jim Hole