Make your gardens come alive!


by guest contributor, Chelsea Campbell, writing on behalf North Creek Nurseries

Generally speaking,there are two broad categories of pollinators: Generalist & Specialist Pollinators.

Most pollinators are generalists, meaning they consume a wide range of pollen from different plant species. Specialist pollinators evolved a relationship with a few or even just one plant species. Specialist bees evolved to emerge from their nest at the same time as their host plant begins to flower (UC Berkely Urban Bee Lab).

Let’s take a look at the Eastern region of the US for some specific data. It is estimated that “roughly 25% of the ~770 species of bees native to the Eastern United States are pollen specialists. Pollen specialist bees coevolved a continuum of generic and specific associations with flowering host plants or pollenizers” (Jarrod Fowler).

According to Fowler, 23% of Delaware’s native bees are specialist pollinators with 51 species total, and 21% of species of Pennsylvania are specialists with 70 species. Knowing this makes it even more important to include plants in your project designs that can help support those local native pollinators. European honey bees aren’t the ones facing decline – our native pollinators are.

What to Plant

We’re challenging you to think deeper about supporting our local native pollinators. There are a few plant families that are known heavy-weights for supporting many species of pollinators, both generalist and specialist alike. According to Fowler’s research, by including these – among other – beautiful perennial favorites, you’ll be supporting a few hundred different species of specialist bees:

But if you want to get a bit more specific, here are some plants we grow that support specialist pollinators.

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