This time of year I start daydreaming about plants I want to purchase in the upcoming growing season. Because of my passion for insects, I have a long wish list of flowering plants that attract pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Our pollinator insects are faced with a shortage of flowers (their main food source) on our landscape, due to habitat loss. Anything we can do to add flowering plants helps pollinators by helping make sure they are at least fed. Anything helps – increasing pollinator habitat can start with small efforts. Even one more flowering plant in your yard helps; it’s better than nothing!

Luckily, there are numerous ways to incorporate pollinator food and habitat onto our properties. There are many species and varieties of flowering plants you can add to your landscape. While selecting the plants you’d like to establish for pollinators, aim for plant diversity. Try to incorporate flowers of different sizes, shapes, and colors. To ensure that you’re providing flowering food for pollinators throughout the year, consider planting a mix of species so that some flowers bloom in the spring, some throughout the summer, and then some in the fall. Having staggered bloom times also provides curb appeal by ensuring flowers throughout the year!

There are several strategies you can use to plant pollinator-friendly areas on your property. You can plant a bee lawn, a pollinator garden, or a native prairie-type planting. Even flowering trees or shrubs can be good flowering resources. The University of Minnesota Bee Lab has lists of plants that benefit bees. Visit their website at: beelab.umn.edu/plant-bee-flowers.

One place you can purchase native plants for pollinators is through your local Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). The Rice SWCD and Steele SWCD native plant sales are now open for 2022. Both SWCDs typically distribute their plants in early June. Check out their websites for more information.

Rice County SWCD

Website: riceswcd.org

Number of seeding plants/flat: 48

Price/flat: $70

As you are making your plans for purchasing plants, you may be wondering about opportunities for funding. The Minnesota Lawns to Legumes program through the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) has a cost-share program which help homeowners pay for establishing pollinator habitat in their yards. All Minnesota residents are eligible to apply for individual support grants, which reimburse gardeners for up to $300. You can apply online at bluethumb.org. Applications will be accepted through February 15, 2022. Funding decisions and all notifications will be emailed in March 2022 and then grant recipients have until Dec. 15, 2022 to install their projects.

If you’d like more information about how you can help encourage pollinator insects, check out Extension’s upcoming webinar series, “How can I help pollinators? Honey bees, native bees, or both?” Register at: z.umn.edu/BeeSeries.

Have fun planning your landscapes during this frigid weather and dream of warm, summer days ahead!


Claire LaCanne is the agricultural extension educator for Rice and Steele counties. Reach her at lacanne@umn.edu, or at 507-332-6165 (Rice County) or 507-444-7691 (Steele County).

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