A pollinator garden is a garden that is largely populated by flowering plants that provide pollen and nectar to a wide range of pollinators. They include host plants which are specific native plants that pollinators need to survive such as milkweed for the monarch butterfly. A pollinator is an insect that transfers pollen from one plant to another and facilitates fertilization. Some examples include butterflies, birds, and bees. Pollinators allow plants to reproduce and continue growing season after season.
Building a Pollinator Garden
Building your own pollinator garden does not have to be intimidating, and you don't even need a lot of space! A pollinator garden can be as big or as small as you would like. You can even plant pollinator plants in pots and place them outside if you aren't able to create a traditional garden in your yard.
Check out the resources below for guidance on creating a pollinator garden at your home.
Choose a site in your yard where you would like your garden to go. Below are some characteristics of your site that you may choose to take into consideration:
- Most pollinator friendly plants prefer sites with full sun exposure, however it is still possible to create a pollinator garden in a shady area
- Pollinators enjoy sheltered areas protected from winds
- If you don't have enough space for a garden, or you don't have a yard at all, consider planting pollinator-friendly plants in pots and placing them on your front porch, balcony, or in your backyard
- For more information on the placement of your pollinator garden, check out this resource on Native Plants for Pollinators provided by Cornell University.
The plants you choose to plant are largely up to your preferences and the space you have chosen for your garden. However, plants you choose should be native to your region (Maryland falls within the Mid-Atlantic region). Below are resources you may explore to find more details on pollinator-friendly plants to help build your garden.
- Plants for Native Pollinators (Environmental Concern)
- Pollinator Plants for the Mid-Atlantic Region (Xerxes Society)
- Plants for the Monarch Butterfly (USDA)
- Plants for Native Bees (DDA and USDA - NRCS)
- Plant Database (Homegrown National Park)
For purchasing your plants, check out this resource created by the Maryland Native Plant Society. Here you can find some local retailers and a guide on how to ensure you are purchasing quality plants.
During the first year, since most plants will be perennials, there won't be much happening above ground as plants are working on creating a root system below ground. Make sure to keep weeds out of the area. During the second year, remove weeds before the plants flower. During the third year and beyond, pruning and weeding is all you need to do! For more information, check out this resource created by Cornell University and Cornell Botanical Gardens.
Once your pollinator garden is complete, you may considering officially certifying as a Certified Wildlife Habitat through the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). To qualify, you must confirm your garden has the following elements: food, water, shelter, a place to raise young, and sustainable practices.
If you are interested in specifically catering your garden to the monarch butterfly, your garden may qualify as a Monarch Waystation. Check out more information on requirements and the certification process on their webpage.
If you have a pollinator garden in your yard that you'd like to share, send a picture to the Sustainability Planner!
The Green Team maintains four pollinator gardens around the City. There is one at the Senior Center, City Hall, Belair Meadows, and the Kenhill Center. These gardens are open to the public. Please feel free to visit them to see how a pollinator garden looks in action or visit the Nature and Wildlife page for details.
If you need help creating a pollinator garden in your yard, the Prince George's Audubon Society will come out to your home to assist you at no cost. You can contact them by email. The Sustainability Planner can also help get you connected with resources.