8 free resources for growing native pollinator plants
April is Earth Month, and we’ve been celebrating by giving special thanks to our pollinators. Did you know that pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food you eat? Over 75% of all flowering plants and almost 75% of crops are pollinated by animals, allowing the plants to produce fruit and seeds that we need to keep our ecosystems and food supply strong. Without pollinators, we wouldn’t have foods like vanilla, strawberries, chocolate, coffee, or squash!
In British Columbia, pollination is mostly done by our 450+ native bee species, with other animals like moths, butterflies, beetles, flies, wasps, bats, and birds also playing an important role. Unfortunately, our pollinators are in trouble – agricultural activity, pollutant exposure, destruction of undisturbed vegetation, urbanization, and climate change have all led to a steep decline in population.
The best way to help support our pollinators is to plant native plants. Native plants are adapted to our climate and don’t require fertilizer, pesticides, nor daily watering. They have evolved over thousands of years in partnership with our local pollinators, thereby supporting biodiversity. In Greater Victoria we’re lucky to live in a rare Garry oak ecosystem, which contains the highest plant diversity of any terrestrial ecosystem in coastal BC. Less than 5% of Garry oak ecosystems in Canada remain in near-natural condition, so it’s more important than ever to restore this habitat by planting native plants.
There are tons of free resources to help you plant your very own backyard (or balcony, or rooftop, or boulevard) native plant garden. Here are some of our favourite guides for Southern Vancouver Island:
The Garry Oak Gardener’s Handbook was developed by the Garry Oak Ecosystems Recovery Team and provides guidance on establishing, enhancing, and caring for Garry oak habitat. Their planting designs can be used in any setting, from containers to meadows.
This comprehensive guide from the Washington State University Extension Native Plant Salvage Project includes how to choose and acquire native plants as well as descriptions of over 80 native plants.
This quick reference guide from Habitat Acquisition Trust has a handy plant table and checklists that allow you to easily create a naturescape on your property.
Pollinator Partnership’s ecoregional planting guide provides region-specific information about native plants and which local pollinators they attract. They also include some garden flowers and crops that grow well in the area.
This toolkit, inspired by Seattle-based designer Sarah Bergmann, is a starter guide to connecting green spaces within cities, thereby reducing land fragmentation. This toolkit is more appropriate for community-wide projects.
Habitat Acquisition Trust’s container gardening guide provides tips and considerations for growing native plants in containers, from balconies and patios to doorways.
This short guide from Habitat Acquisition Trust provides general information on creating a pollinator-friendly garden, including how to create pollinator habitat.