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Podcast: Let's Argue About Plants

Episode 15: Plants for Pollinators

January 11, 2018

Awesome options for getting more beneficial insects into your garden 

By now we’re all familiar with the plight of the declining honey bee—but did you know that there has also been a worldwide decline in all pollinators? True, parasitic wasps and hover flies might not be as sexy as honey bees, but they still play a critical role in pollination. This episode offers up tons of plants that will attract scores of “good bugs” into your garden. Turns out some of these plants are not only attractive to beneficial insects, but also pretty good-looking additions to the landscape.

Expert guests: Jeff Gillman director of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte Botanical Gardens and Paula Gross, the assistant director.

Although common chives (Allium schoenoprasum, Zones 4-8) attract a plethora of pollinators, they have a tendency to reseed obnoxiously. The allium cultivar ‘Millenium’ (Allium ‘Millenium’, Zones 5-8) is better behaved, prettier, and attracts just as many beneficial insects.
Steve, like many pollinators, has seldom met a hyssop he didn’t like, including Acapulco® Salmon and Pink hyssop (Agastache ‘Salmon and Pink’, Zones 5-9).
Surprisingly, bugleweed (Ajuga spp. and cvs., Zones 3-9) attracts a fair number of helpful insects, although it is not generally thought of as a plant for pollinators. Its bright blue blossoms show up in early spring when there isn’t much else blooming to satisfy hungry beneficials.
Although it can be slightly thuggish, Paula Gross and Jeff Gillman at the UNC Botanical Gardens both tout short-toothed mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, Zones 4-8) as a homerun when it comes to plants for pollinators. The proof being this clearly excited bee that posed for the picture above.

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