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Gardening for Pollinators

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Butterfly Milkweed; Asclepias tuberosa

 One of the best ways to attract pollinators is by creating a garden/yard with a variety of plants which provide pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, beetles, wasps and flies. They also need water, nesting sites and shelter.


  • Choose plants native to your area.  Plants native to your region are the best way to attract and support native pollinators, since they have a long evolutionary history together. Many modern hybrids may have lost their ability to produce nectar and pollen. 

    Colorado Native Plant Society Gardening with Native Plants

    Colorado State University Extension Native Plants 


  • Plant a variety of plants, such as bulbs, vines, annual, perennials, shrubs and trees that bloom from early spring to late fall. Pollinators need food throughout the growing season so it’s important to offer them a variety of colors, shapes, sizes and fragrances.

    Forest Service Attracting Pollinators

    Rockies Audubon Habitat Hero 


  • Plant in groups of 3 or more of one kind.  This makes it easier for pollinators to find their food sources. 


  • Provide nesting sites for native bees.  Xerces Society Native Bee Nesting 


  • Feed caterpillars. Without host plants for butterfly larvae (caterpillars) to eat, there will not be butterflies. Many butterfly larvae feed on only 1 or 2 specific host plants (i.e. monarch butterfly caterpillars only eat milkweed; black swallowtail caterpillars feed only on plants in the parsley family).

    Colorado State University Extension Butterfly Fact Sheet 


  • Avoid chemicals as much as possible; especially on or near a blooming plant. Expect some insect damage. Otherwise use non-poisonous strategies: hand-pick off plants, spray hard with water, use dormant oils and insecticidal soaps.

    People and Pollinators Action Network