How To: Plant a Pollinator Pot

By MDC | March 1, 2022
From Xplor: March/April 2022

Biologists are worried because bee and butterfly numbers are dropping. Loss of habitat is a big reason why. It doesn’t take a ton of space to bring back the buzz. You can help by planting a pot of native wildflowers.

Pick Power Flowers

Native wildflowers grow naturally in Missouri’s prairies, forests, and other wild areas. You should use natives because they’re adapted to Missouri’s weather and they provide the best food for bees and butterflies. To find a garden center that sells native plants, visit

Find a Large, Deep Pot

Native wildflowers have deep roots and need more space than nonnative flowers. A pot that’s 18 inches across will hold about three wildflowers. If you have smaller pots, you can plant one wildflower in each pot and group them together.

Add Soil

Fill your pot with potting soil, leaving an inch of free space below the lip of the pot so dirt won’t run off when you water. Don’t add fertilizer! It will make natives grow too tall and floppy.

Plant Your Flowers

Space each seedling about 6 inches away from other plants in the pot. Water the soil regularly but don’t drown the baby plants. Natives are adapted to Missouri’s dry summers.

Planting Recipes

The plants in these “recipes” were chosen because they don’t mind tight spaces, look nice together, and bloom from spring to fall. It’s best to buy seedlings (baby plants) because they bloom faster than seeds.

  • Full sun (at least 8 hours of sun a day)
  • Purple coneflower, lanceleaf coreopsis, swamp or purple milkweed
  • Partial sun (4 to 6 hours of sun a day)
  • Star tickseed, Indian pink, sand phlox
  • Shade (Less than 4 hours of sun a day)
  • Celandine poppy, Jacob’s ladder, columbine

Flower Farmers

Bees, butterflies, and other pollinators are nearly as important as sunlight and water to a plant. When 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, and tomatoes wouldn’t exist without these busy flower farmers.


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