Pollinator & Wildlife Support
The garden provides food, habitat, and breeding grounds for bees, birds, and a variety of other pollinators and wildlife.
Pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species of pollinators. Most fruit, vegetable, other plants that provide fiber, medicines, and fuel are pollinated by animals. Many plants cannot reproduce without pollen carried to them by pollinators. It is estimated that 1/3 of the food we eat exists because of pollinators like bees, butterflies and moths, birds, bats, beetles and other insects.
Ornamental Grasses & Pollinator Meadow
Native Plants & Grasses
Landscaping choices have meaningful effects on the populations of birds and the insects they need to survive. Homeowners and landscapers can benefit birds and other wildlife by simply selecting native plants when making their landscaping decisions.
Native plants have evolved with the native wildlife and they are dependent upon each other for survival.
- They provide vital habitat for birds and other wildlife;
- provide nectar for pollinators;
- provide protective shelter for many mammals.
- Native nuts, seeds, and fruits produced by these plants offer essential foods for all forms of wildlife.
- Spring migrating and nesting birds rely on the insects in our lush forests to give them the energy to travel long distances and raise their young.
Choosing native plants for your lawn and landscape creates a safer and healthier place for you, your family, your community, and wildlife.
- Many Lawns and landscaped areas are notorious for requiring large amounts of artificial fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides.
- The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has 10x more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland.
- Native plants require less fertilization and pesticide use, making them a safer alternative.
- Native plants contribute to healthier outdoor living areas.
Native plants are the foundation of our natural ecosystems and protect biodiversity.
- They contribute to the health and restoration of an ecosystem;
- restore the character of the land and place fewer demands on resources;
- provide opportunities for people to experience and appreciate our natural heritage;
- are what make different regions unique;
- help connect people to nature;
- promote wise stewardship of the land and the conservation of our natural resources;
- inspire a "sense of place" and pride in our communities.
Once established, native plants generally require little maintenance.
- They are easier to grow;
- require less fertilization;
- are usually long-lived, with some plants living for decades;
- usually tolerate a wide range of light and moisture situations;
- usually require far less water;
- help prevent future invasive plant introductions.
- Many have developed their own natural defenses against many pests and diseases, and require less pesticide use.
- Some can help solve landscape problems
Grasses & Sedges
Native grasses and sedges are beautiful additions to our landscape and require very little care. They're great for water-wise gardening, called xeriscaping, in which we mimic nature with plants that need no irrigation or fertilizer once they're established. This approach is environmentally friendly and allows bees and other wildlife, especially birds, to use the plants for food, nesting and cover. There is a direct correlation between the decline of native grassland habitats and the decline of many species of butterflies, bees, and moths. By planting native species of wildflowers and grasses, we can help to reverse the population decline of these pollinators.
Pollen must be moved from one flower to another in order to fertilize a plant so that it can produce seeds necessary for the species to survive. The seeds in fruits and vegetables result from pollination. For some plants, wind, rain and gravity are enough to move their pollen. However, about 3/4 of the worlds flowering plants depend on insects and other pollinators to reproduce. About 1/3 of the food we eat exists because of these pollinators. Bees and butterflies are the most conspicuous pollinators in our gardens, but there are other insects that visit flowers in search of food.
- Insects and other animals are attracted to the bright colors of flowers and/or to odors emitted by the flowers.
- While collecting nectar, pollen sticks to legs and bodies of insects, and to the head, nose, and face of animals.
- As insects and animals move to another flower, the pollen is left on the new flower.
- This pollen fertilizes the flower's egg and a seed is produced.
How Flowers Attract Pollinators
Flowers that attract hummingbirds are:
- Tubular and have petals that are recurved to be out of the way
- Strong supports for perching
- Brightly colored: red, yellow, or orange
- Odorless (birds have a poor sense of smell)
- Open during the day
Flowers that attract beetles are:
- White, to dull white or green
- Strongly fruity
- Open during the day
- May be large solitary flowers (magnolias); or clusters of small flowers (goldenrod)
Flowers that attract moths are:
- In clusters and provide landing platforms
- White or dull colors
- Open late afternoon or night
- Ample nectar producers, with nectar deeply hidden, such as morning glory, tobacco, yucca, and gardenia.
Flowers that attract bats are:
- Open at night
- Large in size (1- 3.5 inches)
- Pale or white in color
- Very fragrant - fermenting or fruit-like odor
Flowers that attract flies are:
- Pale and dull to dark brown or purple
- Sometimes flecked with translucent patches
- Have a putrid odor, like rotting meat, carrion, dung, humus, sap and blood
- Flowers are funnel like or complex traps
Approximately one third of all the food Americans eat is directly or indirectly derived from honey bee pollination. As honey bees gather pollen and nectar for their survival, they pollinate crops such as apples, cranberries, melons and broccoli. Some crops, including blueberries and cherries, are 90% dependent on honey bee pollination; one crop, almonds, depends entirely on the honey bee for pollination at bloom time.
This area has been certified as a Monarch Waystation.
Butterfly Garden Plants
There are dozens of great flowers for a butterfly garden. The key to a good butterfly garden is to select types of flowers that produce a lot of nectar. These plants also attract many native pollinators, which is good for all of our plants. Here are just a few that we have tried in the Greensboro Arboretum that have attracted lots of beautiful butterflies.
Butterfly Host Plants: Food for Baby Butterflies
It's exciting to think that the beautiful butterflies we see visiting the Greensboro Arboretum Butterfly Garden may have been born here! A butterfly's life begins when the female lays her eggs on just the right food plant that will serve as the host for her babies when they hatch. The babies that emerge from the eggs are tiny caterpillars that grow much larger as they eat some of the buds and leaves of their host plant.
Each species of butterfly has its own type of plants to use as the caterpillar hosts. The Greensboro Arboretum has lots of different plants for many types of butterfly caterpillars.
Monarch Waystation: The Life Cycle of the Monarch Butterfly
The lives of adult monarch butterflies are short. Most that are seen in spring and summer in eastern and central North America are the descendants of monarchs that spent the last winter in large communal roosts in central Mexico. They travel north, mating, laying eggs, and continuing to migrate until they die within two to six weeks -- EXCEPT that the 4th