Habitat at Home – Native Home Garden Plantings and Pollinators

“A garden is only as rich and beautiful as the integral health of the system; pollinators are essential to the system – make your home their home.”

— Derry MacBride
National Affairs and Legislation Chairwoman, Garden Club of America.

Gardeners have a wide array of plants to use when creating a home garden. Native plants, plants introduced from years of plant exploration from around the world, and plants developed by professional and amateur breeders can be found in garden centers, in catalogs, and on websites. Use your knowledge of pollinator needs to guide your choices when selecting native home garden plantings.

Native home garden plantings
Mountain Laurel bush in bloom.
  • Choose a variety of plants that will provide nectar and pollen throughout the growing season.
  • Resist the urge to have a totally manicured lawn and garden. Leave bare ground for ground-nesting bees. Leave areas of dead wood and leaf litter for other insects.
  • Strive to eliminate the use of all pesticides. 
  • Find local resources to help you in your efforts. Contact your local county extension agent or native plant society. Visit your regional botanic gardens and arboreta.

The scale of your plantings will vary but keep in mind, your home garden should provide connectivity to the landscape adjacent to your property. Don’t just look within your property boundaries. If your neighbor’s property provides an essential element, such as water, which can be utilized by pollinators visiting your land, you may be able to devote more space to habitat elements that are missing nearby. It is best to use native plants that have evolved to support the needs of specific native pollinators. Some pollinators, however, are generalists and visit many different plants, both native and non-native. Be sure that any non-native plants you choose to include in your home garden are not invasive.  Remember that specialized cultivars sometimes aren’t used by pollinators. Flowers that have been drastically altered, such as those that are double or a completely different color than the wild species, often prevent pollinators from finding and feeding on the flowers. In addition, some altered plants don’t contain the same nectar and pollen resources that attract pollinators to the wild types.

  • CAUTION: Take time to evaluate the source of your plant material. You want to ensure you get plants that are healthy and correctly identified. Your local native plant society can help you make informed decisions when searching for plants.


Habitat at Home - Native Home Garden Plantings and Pollinators


Courtesy of The Pollinator Partnership/ North American Pollinator Protection Campaign