While some exotic or hybridized species supply perfectly good nectar so far as we know, our pollinators are literally starving for the plants they developed physical and chemical relations with over eons. The monarch butterfly’s relationship with milkweed is a perfect example. A monarch only lays her eggs on milkweed plants because they supply her growing caterpillars with the only baby food they wlll eat. They also supply her offspring with protective toxins that discourage would-be predators from eating them either as caterpillars or adult butterflies.
Plant wholesalers and retailers tend to grow mostly exotics, hybrids and named cultivars that may or may not provide the food and nesting sources our native pollinators must have to thrive. Furthermore, most of those plants are treated with pesticides, many of which harm pollinators.
We recommend supporting local native plant growers like:
Georgia Perimeter College Botanical Garden
3251 Panthersville Rd
Decatur, GA 30034
Beech Hollow Wildflower Farm
1575 Elberton Rd, Lexington, GA 30648
(frequently holds plant sales in Scottsdale)
NATIVE PLANT GROWERS
Non-native (“exotic”) plants dominate ornamental landscapes, largely because they tend to have fewer bugs. With good reason! Our native insects don’t generally recognize them as places to nest, especially moths and butterflies. Even about one-third of our native bee species specialize on the pollen of certain plant families for feeding their young.
Additionally, the horticulture industry has become very adept at “improving on” the species that were in America before it was first colonized in the 1600s to make their flowers larger, brighter, more suitable for cutting, etc. However, sometimes their pollen or nectar is lost altogether or its quality diminished in that process. Our native pollinators co-evolved with plants over millions of years, and now the plants and pollinators are mutually dependent for each other’s survival.
Register Your Garden!
Join the National Pollinator Garden Network's challenge of reaching one million registered pollinator gardens. Anyone and any size garden can join. Your garden might be number one million! Then add a photo of your garden or landscape to the MPGC/S.H.A.R.E map.