Plant a Pollinator Garden

Resources to help you design and cultivate the perfect pollinator garden for your outdoor space.

Planning your pollinator garden
Plant a Pollinator Garden

How to Plant a Pollinator Garden

Like us, pollinators need food and shelter to survive and thrive. Creating and maintaining habitat is the best thing that most of us can do for pollinators. Flowering plants provide nutrition through nectar and pollen, and bare soil patches, stems, dead stalks, plant debris left on the ground, and wildlife trees provide valuable nesting and overwintering space for many native pollinators. Follow the guidelines below to create a garden that will support pollinators.

Prioritize Plants That Are Native to Your Region

Native plants have evolved with native pollinators to provide valuable pollen and nectar resources, and to thrive in your climate without the need for excessive watering and chemical inputs. Native plants will support the wonderful diversity of native pollinators that are indigenous to your area. If you don’t know which plants are native to your region, check out Pollinator Partnership Canada’s Ecoregional Planting Guides and Find Your Roots plant selection tool for some options, and our Native Plant Nursery Directory to find out where they can be purchased.

Incorporate a Range of Plants That Provide Food for Pollinators From Spring to Fall

Early spring and late fall can be difficult times for pollinators to find blooming plants, despite being critical periods in many pollinators’ lifecycles. For example, most bumble bee species emerge from hibernation in early spring and produce new queens in late fall, and therefore these are critical times in their lifecycle where they need floral resources in order to initiate colonies (spring) and produce reproductive bees (late summer and fall) that will initiate colonies the next year.

Include Pollinator Host Plants

Many pollinators have evolved specialized relationships with particular plant species, and depend on them to lay their eggs. A well known example of this is the reliance of monarch butterfly larvae on milkweed. But many other native flowers, trees, and grasses provide larval food for hundreds of other types of butterflies, like the tiger swallowtails.

Leave Bare Soil Patches, Stems, and Dead Stalks as Nesting Space

While managed honeybees live in human-made hives, the vast majority of bee species (>90%) nest underground, in plant stems, in old beetle burrows in wood, and in other natural cavities. Be inspired by nature to include some of these elements in your garden.

Avoid Insecticides

Some insecticides can harm pollinators when they come into contact with them. Always read pesticide labels, follow pesticide restrictions (it’s the law!), and look for warnings that they may be harmful to bees.

Native Plant Nurseries

Find Native Plants

A directory of native plant nurseries across Canada to help you find native plants, flowers, trees, shrubs and seeds for sale in your area.