What is a pollinator? A pollinator is an animal that spreads pollen from one part of a flower to another, enabling the plant to reproduce, Common pollinators are bees, butterflies, moths and other insects, although larger animals, like hummingbirds, can also be pollinators.
What is a pollinator plant? Pollinator plants are flowers, shrubs and trees that attract pollinators. The best pollinator plants are native species, that is, they have always grown here. They were not brought from Europe by the first colonists or imported from abroad by gardeners.
How do I get started? If you have a garden, you might already be growing pollinator plants. Some common native flowers are Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Cone flowers (Echinacia), and Bee Balm (Monarda). Plant a few more! In spite of its name, Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is not a weed, but an attractive pollinator plant for your garden. In the fall, New England Asters (Aster novae-angliae) are beautiful, especially combined with Goldenrod (Solidago). In the spring, Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is easy to grow and will share a shady spot with Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia Virginica). Don’t overlook Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)! Milkweed is often treated as a garden pest, but it is the only plant that the Monarch Butterfly uses for food and reproduction, so it deserves to have a place in your section of the pollinator pathway. For shrubs or small trees, consider Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) and With Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). For more suggestions on flowers, trees and shrubs, visit Pollinator Plant Resources, or consult the Little Gardens of Tarrytown Garden Club.
Where can I buy pollinator plants? Start with your local nursery or garden center, but if you don’t find what you’re looking for, the Internet gives you access to many fine nurseries that will deliver native plants to your door.
Where do I sign up? Fill out a Pollinator Pathways Pledge at a TEAC event.