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  • Sarah Gerhardt

How to attract pollinators to your garden

Updated: Apr 27

A bumblebee sitting on a clover flower
Bee on clover (Photo: Sarah Gerhardt)

Planting for pollinators

To attract pollinators it's important to choose a variety of plants that bloom at different times throughout the season (March to October). This ensures a steady food source for bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. They use the plant's nectar for energy and pollen for protein.

Some great choices for pollinator-friendly plants in Scotland include bluebells, foxgloves, and sedums. It is a good idea to plant native Scottish flowers as they usually provide some of the best food sources. When visiting an outdoor garden centre during the season observe which plants get the most visits from pollinators. Check if the plants are perennial as those are usually better sources of pollen and nectar than annual plants.

Avoid pesticides

When growing sustainably and supporting the pollinators in your garden it is important to avoid using pesticides and herbicides. These can be toxic to pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Instead, opt for natural pest control methods like companion planting in your vegetable plot. This involves planting certain species together to repel pests. This also shows you how to attract pollinators to your vegetable garden. 

Go wild

Keep some wild areas in your garden. This could be a wildflower meadow and you could reduce cutting your lawn to allow ‘weedy’ plants to flower such as daisies and dandelion. These native flowers are incredible food sources for bees and you should think about them when planting for pollinators. You can cut off the flower heads of dandelions after flowering to avoid them going to seed and spreading.

Provide nesting sites

Another great way to attract pollinators is to provide nesting sites in your garden. Stone walls with holes make ideal nesting sites for solitary bees. You can often find walls like these in Edinburgh tenement backgreens and gardens. Old wood logs serve the same purpose whereas bumblebees like to nest in long grass.

When you apply these pollinator garden ideas, your garden will attract plenty of pollinators and support a healthy ecosystem.

Take a look at this list of plant choices for planting for honey bees and other pollinators throughout the year.

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