What plants support bees and other pollinators?

Pinellas County has become an affiliate ‘Bee City’ under an initiative by the prominent pollinator conservation organization, the Xerces Society, https://beecityusa.org/apply-to-bee-city-usa/. What plants can people plant to support bees, other pollinators, and apply other conserving measures that can be taken?

Starting Points

Some good starting points to conserving pollinators is to support conservation and preservation of natural lands / habitats such as the West Klosterman Preserve. Another is to reduce or eliminate pesticide use and add appropriate native plants adapted to your site conditions that may include sun or shade, soil type (sandy or organic), drainage, and dry or moist.

There are many, if not most, locally native plants that people can plant to urgently support our dramatically diminishing pollinators that support all life. Member nurseries of the Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN) can be located at PlantRealFlorida.org as a great resource for these plants.

You can also contact your local University of Florida Extension Office, https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/pinellas/, as well as the local Florida Native Plant Society Chapter (Pinellas Chapter FNPS), https://pinellas.fnpschapters.org, and the Florida Wildflower Foundation, https://www.flawildflowers.org, for more information about ways to support pollinators.

Starter List of Native Plants

A short starter list of commonly available native plants that you may want to add to your landscape include native Hollies, Ilex, like Yaupon Holly, Ilex vomitoria, native Blueberries like Darrow’s Blueberry, Vaccinium darrowii, or Shiny Blueberry, Vaccinium myrsinites, Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, and Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboretum.

More shrubs or small trees to consider are native Bumelias, Sideroxylon spp., Simpson Stopper, Myrcianthes fragrans, Firebush, Hamelia patens, Grayleaf, Melochia tomentosa.

Wildflowers may include Dotted or Spotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata, Salt and Pepper, Melanthera nivea (there is a dwarf groundcover type), Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata, native asters, Symphyotrichum spp. (yes, there are many), Tropical Sage, Salvia coccinea, Rosinflower, Silphium astericus, and many, many more.

Start with a small number of species to build your success and confidence, but know that the more diversity you add, the more species you will attract. You may want to learn to identify some of the bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.

Be sure to refer to the resources listed above, happy planting and enjoy the show and dynamic of visitors to your plants.

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