Sometimes our good intentions backfire. Scientific research, like insect-plant relationships, is highly specific. But researchers are beginning to fill in the dearth of data and come up with some pretty good clues to answer the big question: Are native plant cultivars - "nativars" - and hybrids good for pollinators and other beneficial insects?
Research on wildlife value of every single native plant species and cultivar in every genus in every region simply has not been done, but we have lots of clues and resources. And we can keep looking and learning.
Fertile, self-sowing, open-pollinated plants are full of genetic diversity and food for pollinators. They often charmingly appear in places we’d never think to plant them.
How do we support resilient local food webs? Entomologist Doug Tallamy notes that caterpillars transfer energy into the food web better than anything else, so we need to increase their numbers. Dr. Tallamy's research shows that some native plants are more ecologically productive too, that 5% of our native plants make 75% of the food that drives food webs.
If you can’t please yourself in your own garden, where can you? Why put up with plants that just sit there without speaking to each other - or to you? If a home landscape conveys all the charm and originality of a heavily mulched McDonald’s parking lot (minus cigarette butts), it’s time to fill in with more plants, more color and more contrast to make it more personal and exciting.
Because we have diverse bee species (long-tongue and short-tongue bees, big ones and small ones, specialists and generalists) with different needs and life cycles, we need diverse kinds of plants - with different sizes, shapes, bloom times, scents, markings, reproductive structures. Read about what's blooming in May and special plants for specialist bees...
Willows are unsung heroes when it comes to year-round wildlife support and thoughtful plant selection.
Microclimates are areas of slight climactic difference within a region. We can take advantage of the microclimates in our own yards.
How do we make gardens that still look like gardens in the winter? It’s worth scoping out what perennial foliage still looks good in your garden in cold weather. Gather these "foul weather friends" together for winter garden beauty.
Spotting Invasive plants when leaves are green can be tricky. But invasives with a longer growing season than native plants are easy to see in fall. Their leaves remain green or display bright autumn color long after natives have lost their leaves for the winter.