Photo: Xerces Society / Krystal Eldridge

plants

Purple and yellow flowers blooming in front of a large building with an awning.
Native purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea) and goldenrods (Solidago) blooming, with non-native lavender (Lavandula). Native flowering plants that bloom consistently throughout the growing season are the best choice for pollinator habitat. Credit: Matthew Shepherd.

Native pollinators coevolved with plants over millions of years, forming mutualisms in which plants and pollinators rely on each other for survival. In the United States, non-native (“exotic”) plants dominate ornamental landscapes, largely because they tend to attract fewer unwanted insects. The horticulture industry has become adept at “improving on” the species that were native to the United States to make their flowers larger, brighter, more suitable for cutting, etc. This process often leads to a reduction in the quality of pollen and nectar, or loss of pollen and nectar altogether. While some exotic or hybridized species supply adequate nectar, native pollinators primarily rely on native plant species. Plant wholesalers and retailers tend to grow mostly exotics, hybrids, and named cultivars that may or may not provide the food and nesting sources native pollinators rely on. These plants are often treated with pesticides, many of which harm pollinators.

Bee City USA and Bee Campus USA affiliates commit to create and enhance pollinator habitat by planting native species. To support this commitment, affiliates create a native plant list and native plant supplier list.

By creating a native plant supplier list you help your community locate businesses where they can purchase native plants, promote and support local plant suppliers, and ensure future supplies of locally native plants.

Aerial photo of city with a dashed trail, showing the flight of a bee. Photos of pollinator habitat are overlaid.

Abundant natural areas and wildflower landscaping in an area can help facilitate the movement of pollinators from one patch of habitat to another, and increase the likelihood that they will have enough food and nesting sites to build healthy populations. (Photographs by Nancy Lee Adamson [2]; Sarah Foltz Jordan [1, 3, 4, 5, 9]; Toni Genberg [6]; Emily May [7]; Sara Morris [cavity-nesting bee]; Matthew Shepherd [ground-nesting bee, 8]; Will Parson, Chesapeake Bay Program / flickr.) From Pollinator-Friendly Parks by Stephanie Frischie, Aimee Code, Matthew Shepherd, Scott Black, Sarah Hoyle, Sharon Selvaggio, Angela Laws, Rachel Dunham, and Mace Vaughan.

Explore resources: Creating pollinator habitat

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