Melons, cucumbers, peaches, apples and most fruits require insects for pollination to stimulate the fruit production. European Honey Bees often get the credit for this work.
In Kansas, it is estimated that there are 200 native bees doing pollination. Pollination is also done by butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, birds, bats and the wind.
Other than the wind, a habitat that contains food, water and shelter is needed by the pollinators. I will be presenting on pollinator gardens at the Manhattan Public Library at 7 p.m. Jan. 30 in the second floor auditorium.
Providing water and shelter is straightforward. A shallow source of water is most beneficial. Shelter comes from plant material, actual structures in the landscape and debris. An untidy landscape is preferred by pollinators.
Food for the pollinators is where things get quarrelsome. Some believe that native plants are the only source for food. Some studies show that non-natives serve as food sources. I suggest planting what you like, and the pollinators are likely to come.
A strategy to aid in food for pollinators is to have flowers all season. A mixture of plants that bloom from April to October is best. Massing of plants is good. Try implementing an area of one large plant or many in a minimal area of three feet. Flowers of different color and fragrance on plants of varying heights will attract different pollinator species, as well as provide pollen and nectar throughout the season.
The pollinator garden can stretch throughout the whole landscape and not be limited to a corner of the yard. I’m teaching a class on home landscape design. Sign up through try.ufm.org. Class begins on Feb. 6 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Pollinators are experiencing significant population declines due to loss of habitat, loss of floral diversity, invasive plants, natural diseases and parasites. Landscaping for pollinators will help ward off further decline.
You can find out more information on this and other horticulture topics by going to the K-State Research and Extension website at www.ksre.ksu.edu.
You contact Gregg Eyestone at the Riley County office of K-State Research and Extension. Gregg may be contacted by calling 537-6350 or stopping by 110 Courthouse Plaza in Manhattan or e-mail: email@example.com.