How To: Plant a Pollinator Paradise

By | March 1, 2017
From Xplor: March/April 2017

Biologists are worried because bee and butterfly numbers are dropping. Improper use of pesticides and loss of habitat are likely to blame. You can bring the buzz back by planting a patch of native flowers.

Pick a Planting Spot

  • Bee sunny. You’ll attract the widest variety of pollinators if you place your garden in a sunny spot. If a site receives six or more hours of sun, it’s sunny. If it gets less than that, it’s shady.
  • Bee near water. Choose a location with easy access to water. Baby plants need water every day until they adapt to their new surroundings.
  • Bee smart. You don’t want other plants to compete with your new flowers, so dig grass and weeds out of the area you plan to plant.

Pick Your Plants

  • Bee native. Choose native perennials for your pollinator paradise. “Perennials” are plants that come back year after year. “Native” means they’re from Missouri. Native plants are adapted to Missouri’s weather, they need less water, and they provide the best food for pollinators. To find a native plant nursery, visit
  • Bee diverse. Different pollinators like different flowers, so plant a variety of species.
  • Bee generous. Plan a mix of flowers so that something is in bloom from April to October.

Get Your Hands Dirty

  • Bee well read. Each seedling should come with planting instructions. Read them. They’ll tell you how to plant the seedling and how far away to space it from other seedlings.
  • Bee clumpy. Cluster the same type of flowers together instead of scattering them around. This way pollinators don’t have to work hard to find what’s blooming.
  • Bee mulchy. Mulch is a flower’s best friend. Spread some around your new plants. It will keep weeds at bay and hold water in the soil.
  • Bee chemical free. Pesticides and herbicides kill pollinators. Avoid using them.
  • Bee patient. It may take time for native plants to grow and for pollinators to find your flowers.

Power Flowers

Here are a few native plants that are guaranteed to make your backyard buzz. They look great, too!

  • Butterfly milkweed
  • Blue wild indigo
  • Aromatic aster
  • Wild bergamot
  • Eastern blazing star
  • Slender mountain mint
  • Cliff goldenrod
  • Purple coneflower

What’s All the Buzz About?

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are nearly as important as sunlight and water to a plant. As pollinators fly from plant to plant, they transfer pollen from one flower to another. Flowers use the pollen to make seeds, which grow into new plants. More than 150 crops in the United States depend on pollinators. Foods such as apples, strawberries, tomatoes, and almonds wouldn’t exist without these busy little flower farmers.

And More...

This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Karen Hudson
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Nichole LeClair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White