honey bee gathering nectar from a lavender plant

Pollinator Paradise: Creating a Garden Haven for Bees, Butterflies, and Birds

Introduction: In the bustling world of a garden, there are unsung heroes that often go unnoticed – pollinators. Bees, butterflies, and birds play a crucial role in the ecosystem by pollinating flowers and ensuring the reproduction of plants. Creating a pollinator-friendly garden not only supports these vital creatures but also adds vibrancy and life to your outdoor space. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of pollinator-friendly gardening practices and provide tips for attracting bees, butterflies, and birds to your garden sanctuary.

The Importance of Pollinator-Friendly Gardening Practices: Pollinators are essential for the reproduction of many flowering plants, including those that produce fruits, vegetables, and seeds. Without pollinators, these plants would struggle to reproduce and ultimately decline in population. By creating a pollinator-friendly garden, you’re not only supporting the health of your local ecosystem but also ensuring a bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables for yourself and your community.

Tips for Attracting Bees, Butterflies, and Birds:

  1. Choose Native Plants: Native plants are adapted to your local climate and soil conditions, making them attractive and accessible to local pollinators. Research native plant species in your area and incorporate them into your garden design.

Examples include:

  • Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa): Also known as bee balm, this native perennial features clusters of pink to lavender flowers atop tall stems. It blooms from mid- to late summer and attracts a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): This cheerful native annual or short-lived perennial boasts bright yellow daisy-like flowers with dark brown centers. It blooms from mid-summer to early fall and is a favorite of bees and butterflies.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): This native perennial produces vibrant purple flowers with prominent orange centers. It blooms from mid-summer to early fall and is a favorite among bees and butterflies.

Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis): This native perennial produces tall spikes of blue to purple flowers in late spring to early summer. It is the primary host plant for the endangered Karner blue butterfly and attracts other pollinators as well.

  • Provide a Variety of Flowers: Different pollinators are attracted to different types of flowers, so aim to create a diverse range of blooms in your garden. Include flowers with varying colors, shapes, and bloom times to attract a wide array of pollinators throughout the growing season.
  • Spring Blooms: Dutch Crocus (Crocus vernus), Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)
  • Early Summer Blooms: Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Mid-Summer Blooms: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Late Summer to Fall Blooms: New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Sneezeweed (Helenium spp.)


Wild Columbine

Joe Pye Weed

  1. Plant in Clusters: Grouping flowers together in clusters makes it easier for pollinators to find and access them. Aim for large patches of the same flower species to create visual impact and maximize pollinator visits.
  2. Offer Shelter and Water: Provide shelter for pollinators in the form of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation where they can rest and seek refuge from predators. Additionally, include a shallow water source such as a birdbath or small pond to provide pollinators with access to clean drinking water.
  3. Avoid Pesticides: Pesticides can be harmful to pollinators, so opt for natural pest control methods whenever possible. Integrated pest management techniques, such as attracting natural predators or using insecticidal soaps, can help control pests without harming beneficial insects.
  4. Create Habitat Diversity: Incorporate a variety of habitats into your garden, including open spaces, meadows, and wooded areas, to attract a diverse range of pollinators. Consider leaving some areas of your garden wild to provide nesting sites for bees and other insects.

Conclusion: In a world where pollinators are facing increasing threats from habitat loss, climate change, and pesticide use, creating a pollinator-friendly garden is more important than ever. By following these tips and embracing pollinator-friendly gardening practices, you can transform your outdoor space into a haven for bees, butterflies, and birds while supporting the health of your local ecosystem. So, roll up your sleeves, dig in the dirt, and let’s create a pollinator paradise together!

liatris spicata marsh blazing star with purple blooms

Gardening with Minnesota Native Plants – Walk and Talk

  • MN Native Plants 8-25
     August 25, 2022
     5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
  • MN Native Plants
     April 1, 2023
     10:00 am - 11:00 am
  • MN Native Plants
     June 13, 2023
     6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
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Event Phone: 5073884877

Take a deeper look at Minnesota native plant varieties and learn how to incorporate them into your landscape and gardens.

wild blue phlox flowers

Pollinator Planting Guides

Support for pollinators is a joint effort a partnership.

As of July 2022 Monarchs are now at critically low populations. As a flagship pollinator one that attracts attention because of it’s beautiful colors and easier tracking methods this news is a wake up call that we are losing pollinators at a fast rate. We need to add pollinator plants to our landscapes every year.

What We Need to Do Now

  1. Add plants into our landscapes so there is a succession of blooms spring through fall. You can use pollinator friendly annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees to accomplish this.
  2. Reduce or eliminate the use of insecticides. Organic insecticides still kill beneficial insects. There are now studies that find that even if the plant isn’t blooming, pollinators will drink dew off of plant foliage. If it’s treated with insecticides it will kill them. If you do need to spray, avoid bloom time.
  3. Plant ecologically sound landscapes. Add a diverse mix of native plants into your landscape to bring in beneficial insects, birds, and pollinators. Predatory birds and insects are a great way to control damaging insects without the use of insecticides.

Plants to Add for Monarchs

Name – Bloom Time

Pale Purple Coneflower – Early-summer
Butterflyweed – Mid-summer
Milkweed – Mid-summer – Emphasis on Common Milkweed since they lay their eggs on it.
Black-eyed Susan – All summer
Joe Pye Weed – Late-summer
Blazing Star – Late-summer
Aster – Late-summer to fall
Monarda fistulosa – Late-summer to fall
Goldenrod – Late-summer to fall

Download image of Drummers “Plants that Attract Butterflies”

Pollinator Planting Guides

Click on a map to download the Ecoregional Planting Guide. Each guide will give you information on specific plant traits that pollinators prefer ( color, odor, pollen, nectar, flower shape ) as well as a list of plants to support pollinators in that region. There are many overlaps in plant varieties in these guides. We wanted to include specific regions because we have customers that are from nearby areas that may live in a different zone.

Mankato is zone 5a (was 4b) and in the Prairie Parkland Temperate Province.

Don’t have room for an in-ground pollinator garden? Check out the portable pollinator garden list from National Garden Bureau.

Prairie Parkland Temperate Province Ecoregional Pollinator Planting Guide Regional  Map
Eastern Broadleaf Forest Continental   Province Ecoregional Pollinator Planting Guide

Sources: Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Prairie Parkland, Temperate Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco

Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Eastern Broadleaf Forest, Continental Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, USA. https://www.pollinator.org/guides#about


“Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.

They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.

Without the actions of pollinators agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.”

Learn more

Mature blue false indigo in the display gardens at Drummers.

Top 10 Perennials 2019

Back in January of this year, the full-time staff went to the Northern Green Conference up in the Twin Cities for continuing education and to see what is new for this year in landscaping and gardening. One of the more popular sit downs was the Top 10 lists of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Since June is Perennial Gardening Month we thought we’d share the Top 10 Perennials of 2019 decided by Mike Heger. Mike has been in the horticultural industry for over 40 yrs and has even written a book on growing perennials in cold climates.  He of course prefaced the list with saying this was a very difficult list to make and was focusing more on natives and pollinators this year. Check out the quick list of his Top Ten Perennials!

Top Ten Perennials 2019

  1. Baptisia Lactea ‘ White False Indigo ‘. Tough, long-lived plant, and tolerates many different soils and light conditions. Great nectar plant. The Blue False Indigo, Baptista ‘ American Goldfinch ‘, and Baptisia Decadence Series are other Baptisia he mentioned.
  2. Calamintha nepeta ‘ Montrose White ‘ (Catmint). Clump forming mint with long bloom time. Great for bees and hummingbirds love it. Considered a zone 5 but could possibly survive our winters in the right spot.
  3. Clematis ‘ Arabella ‘. A rambling ground cover that can have flowers all summer long. Mike said his bloomed 14 weeks! Bees and Hummingbirds enjoy!
  4. Helianthus ‘ Lemon Queen ‘ (Hybrid Sunflower). Blooms late summer and fall and great for all kinds of pollinators. It’s a great tall, background plant. Blooms 2-2.5 months!
  5. Native Liatris ligulistylis ( Meadow Blazing Star ). It blooms from the top down and monarchs and butterflies love it. Tolerant of many soils and high light. Another good native option is Liatris Pycnostachya.
  6. Nepetax faasenii ‘ Purrsian Blue ‘ Catmint. A low maintenance clumping mint with 4-6 mths of color. The ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ is the shorter version with similar qualities. Will see butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds around it!
  7. Origanum ‘ Rosenkuppel ‘ (Ornamental Oregano). Burgundy blooms June-September and even past September at times. It prefers full sun and no wet feet. It is a zone 5 plant so may not survive winters in southern MN.
  8. Salvia nemorosa ‘ Blue Marvel ‘. This perennial sage has violet-blue blooms and the butterflies and bees flock to it. Other forms of Salvia have white, pinks, and purple blooms and there are plenty of varieties to choose from.
  9. Stachys monieri ‘ Hummelo ‘ Boteny. This is the 2019 Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. This perennial tolerates many different soil and full sun to light shade.
  10. Vernonia fasiculata ‘ Common Ironweed’. This native perennial can get up to 6′ tall and is a wonderful nectar plant. Painted lady butterflies love them and are a great plant in the back of the garden due to their height. Their blooms are a bright purple and bloom July, August, and September.