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Five Pollinators You Should Plant Now

Summer is almost upon us and with that comes a multitude of bees, butterflies and other insect life. In order for these guests to thrive in your community, and to catch a glimpse of them try planting these pollinator plants to attract them to your home garden.

1. Borage

Long treated like a weed, this magical plant has a secret weapon, the ability to replenish it's flowers' nectar every twenty minutes. What does this mean? A never ending buffet for any local bee populations. This bluish purple flower will produce small half-inch sized blooms continuously for months on end once it is warm enough (over 60 degrees during the day). At the end of it's lifecycle it produces a multitude of seed but beware! It's spiny branches can be somewhat of a deterrent to harvest, and it can spread quickly throughout a yard over a few years.

2. Milkweed

A Monarch Butterfly favorite, Milkweed is a beautiful addition to any garden but it is especially welcoming to butterflies. This plant comes in many varieties throughout the US depending on region and is the main source of food for monarchs in their caterpillar stage. They lay their eggs on the plant so that when their caterpillar hatches, it is on it's main food source. After reaching a size of two inches, the caterpillars form bright green cocoons called chrysalis from which they hatch into fully grown monarch butterflies. It's always exciting to watch the life cycle happen in your yard over a few weeks.

3. Cilantro

This already familiar herb is a must-have in any culinary garden. It's fragrance and freshness adds to any dish you pair it with. However, it doesn't last long before bolting - a natural part of it's life cycle where it produces flowers that are pollinated and turned to seed. While this means you can no longer harvest the herb for your food, it does mean that with patience it will self-sow and hopefully continuously grow in your garden. This plant especially attracts ladybugs which eat aphids, as well as honeybees and other pest eating insects.

4. Lavender

Surprisingly a member of the mint family, this long time staple of gardens is especially great for local bee populations. With many varieties requiring less water than many other flowering plants, this herb produces blooms for many months and in some regions almost year round. It also attracts ladybugs and hummingbirds, both helpful in reducing pest populations of aphids.

5. Echinacea (a.k.a. coneflower)

A gorgeous show stopping bloom, you've likely already heard of this flower before, but in it's vitamin form. However, even before being processed this flower already adds so much to the landscape. It's a water-wise addition to any yard that attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and songbirds. It blooms repeatedly throughout summer and into the fall and in warmer climates comes back in the spring over multiple years. It can also be cut and added to floral arrangements or dried and used for tea or decoration.

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