Learn how to plant a bee-friendly garden and what to grow to attract pollinators
Bee populations are in decline around the world. Find out how you can plant for pollinators and make your garden bee-friendly.
Bees are really important for our ecosystem, so it's a good idea to give the little chaps a helping hand where we can!
Pollinators – including bees – help to carry pollen from one flower to another, which helps keep our gardens blooming.
Jenny Dixon, editor of The Flower Patch, says: "Any flowering plant that you add to a garden, whether it's an annual or a perennial, is really going to help attract pollinators. There are ones which are legendary for attracting pollinators like buddleia, but you have to be careful with plants like that because they can very easily get out of hand! They get very big pretty quickly."
Read on to discover Jenny's tips for planting a garden that will improve the environment for bees and other pollinators.
How to create a great garden for bees
Start a cutting patch
According to Jenny, this is a really effective way to help the local bee population. "Creating a cutting patch is something you can do really quickly and achieve it in a summer. Start with seeds – which there's still time to plant. It'll attract a lot more insects in general to your garden." She recommends planting a double-bed sized plot, but a smaller area is fine.
Choose some flowers that bees love
Jenny likes cosmos, which is easy to grow from seed. She says: "It'll give you enough flowers for the house and enough to leave in the garden as well." She's a big fan of dahlias too: "I've bought far too many this year and I don't actually know where I'm going to put them." The popular dahlia with florists at the moment is called cafe au lait – so keep an eye out for it!
Wait until after the last frost
Don't plant your seeds until after the end of May – this will help to protect against any late frosts. "You've only got to have a fight with the slugs and snails after that," Jenny adds.
Try to deter pests the natural way
Slugs and snails are the main threat to your beautiful flowerbeds. "A lot of the annuals are just delicious to slugs and snails," she says. Jenny recommends using traditional methods to keep pests at bay, including covering the flower bed with broken eggshells or putting down some rough mulch around your plants. Apparently, slugs and snails don't like the sensation of travelling over a rough surface (and who can blame them?).
Keep vulnerable plants in pots
You can put copper tape around the edge, which also helps to deter slugs and snails.
Use sacrificial plants
This sounds a bit creepy, but it just means putting plants that you don't care about in front of plants that you want to protect in the hope that the pests will eat those first.
Flowers to plant to attract bees
You can find some more great recommendations on the Gardeners' World website.
Photo by Thomas Jörn, Lindsay Moe and Hisu lee on Unsplash