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Attracting Pollinators to the Backyard Garden

We would not have many fruits or veggies without a lot of help from insects so it is important to start attracting pollinators to the backyard garden. While some crops are self-pollinating, most need a pollinator -- the agent that moves pollen from a male flower to a female flower resulting in fertilization and ultimately, fruit.

Kinds of Pollinators

Birds, humans, even the wind are pollinators, but by far the most productive pollinators are insects. Bees are the primary source of insect pollination, but others include butterflies, wasps, moths, and flies. Squash, cucumbers, apples, peppers, peaches, and melons require these guys to produce fruit.

How to Attract Pollinators

The way to attract pollinators is to plant what they like. This means plenty of plants with nectar and pollen.

To attract bees plant...
  • Sunflower
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Goldenrod
  • Sage
  • Black-eyed Susan
  • Comfrey 
  • Elderberry
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Borage
To attract other pollinators plant...
  • Passion Flower
  • Dill
  • Aster
  • Milkweed (This plant is also vital for attracting Monarchs)
  • Hollyhock
  • Spicebush

This is only a fraction of what can be planted and the Pollinator Partnership is a wonderful resource for selecting pollinator-friendly plants for your garden. After attracting pollinators to your garden, be sure to keep them around by providing a habitat.

The Effect of Pesticides on Pollinators

Pesticides are indiscriminate -- they kill every insect they come in contact with, good or bad. I strongly encourage you to never use pesticides in your garden, and instead opt for cultural and biological controls. If you feel you absolutely must, only use a pesticide derived directly from nature, like organic neem oil and never use it on or around blooms. Please exhaust every other possibility before resorting to pesticide use and learn alternative methods of pest control, including those I include on this website.

Attracting pollinators to the backyard garden is not only great for food production, but it also adds beauty! Select a few of these lovely blooms to add to your garden each year to increase your biodiversity and in turn, the overall health of your garden space.

What is your favorite bloom?


  1. This was very helpful! I've noticed a lack of bees this year despite not using insecticides. I have several of these flowers but may add more of your suggestions next year if I continue to notice the absence of bees.

  2. It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract pollinators. I've noticed that having a variety of different blooms really helps because it seems that different types of bees like different blooms. At my house the big bumblebees love my scarlet runner beans, while smaller bumbles like the borage. Honeybees love my elderberry and ladybugs flock to my yarrow.

  3. We have lived in Arkansas for about a year now! I love the variety of local businesses and farmers markets offer to help make shopping local easy and fun! I enjoy trying out all the delicious local produce that I can't grow myself. Farmers markets are a great place to find local made gifts like jewelry and pottery too!

  4. You are so right! You can really find some great handmade gift items. Last year for Mother's Day my husband and son got me an Arkansas-shaped cutting board which, naturally, I won't use because it's too pretty. :) It's one of my favorite gifts ever and it came from the local farmers market.


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