How you can help pollinators
Understanding what pollinators need will give you an idea of how you can help. Pollinators are a diverse group and have a variety of needs.
- Flowers - a range of flowers is important. A mix of flowers with open structures and tubular flowers, but also ones that flower through winter as well as the main flowering season (March to October).
- Foodplants - plant vegetation to feed on such as native trees, shrubs, smaller plants and even the grasses in your lawn that grow during spring and summer. They also feed on the roots, bulbs and stems of plants.
- Breeding and nesting sites - water to drink, dead wood, rotting vegetation and longer grass are important for larvae.
- Overwintering sites - in winter, seed heads, leaf litter, crevices in bark, longer vegetation, hollow plant stems and other places are all needed for shelter.
What you can do
Varied habitats are key for pollinators. You cannot cater for all the many pollinator species, but if you use the advice and tips on this page it will help you provide a home to significant numbers. Even small pockets of plants or dead wood are all still valuable.
Plants for pollinators
There are many great plants available for pollinators. There are lots of non-native plants to provide nectar and pollen for pollinators and can be a great addition to your garden borders, but think about native species to provide leaves and other vegetation the larvae need to feed on during spring and summer.
- The Royal Horticultural Society website has a list of plants suitable for these insects.
- The Butterfly Conservation website has a list of foodplants for butterflies and foodplants for moths.
Let it grow
Allowing areas to grow during the spring and summer months provides opportunities for feeding and nesting pollinators. Try leaving some of your lawn to turn into a mini-meadow where butterflies can breed and the sound of grasshoppers can return.
- The Plantlife website has resources for a no mow zone.
- Kent Wildlife Trust website gives advice on how to grow a wild patch.
Places to nest and shelter
Providing bee hotels and bug mansions will encourage a range of pollinating insects. There are a lot of bee hotel designs out there. Choose or make one with holes between 2mm and 10mm that are blocked at one end. Log piles will also provide similar habitats and opportunities for beetles and flies. Here are some ideas of ones you can make:
- how to build a bee hotel on the RSPB website
- how to build a bug mansion on the Kent Wildlife trust website.
Bee banks and scrapes can be created in sunny areas for ground nesting bees and wasps. They also provide opportunities for overwintering sites for pollinators like bumblebees and are great basking spots for lizards.
Over the winter, places to shelter are key for pollinators so try not to deadhead all of the plants or rake up all of the leaves. Leave some in your borders, or in piles to give some refuges for these insects in the winter.
Go pesticide free
Some plants people consider 'weeds' and want to control with herbicides are often those pollinators will feed on. Think about if it is necessary to use these chemicals, or if you could hand weed them or, better still, leave them be.
Plants, bulbs and seeds from garden centres are often treated with insecticides and other pesticides, even those labelled as 'Plants for Pollinators'. Insecticides can be particularly harmful to pollinators, so it is always worth checking before you buy them. For tips on going pesticide free in your garden take a look at: