Posted 18th Sep 2014
More than 1,500 insect species are known to pollinate plants in the UK – including bumble bees, the honey bee, solitary bees, hoverflies, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies and moths – and almost any insect that visits flowers can aid pollination. We've teamed up with The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) to bring you tops tips for helping our pollinators
Letting gardens and allotments grow wilder will make them friendlier places for pollinators. Get started by designing and building a bug hotel – be as creative and experimental as you like! Then consider:
- Leaving perennial plants uncut over the winter as their hollow stems offer the perfect shelter for overwintering insects. Small log, leaf-litter and pebble piles provide great places for breeding and nesting insects too.
- Simply letting some weeds flourish, even if it’s just in the corner. One man’s weed is another man’s wildflower. Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees and cut grass less often.
- Thinking responsibly about using pesticides and be considerate to dandelions and nettles, which are crucial for many egg-laying pollinators.
- Feeding pollinators by planting a mixture of species to provide year-round food and grow plants that are rich in pollen and nectar. Consider foxglove, borage, blackberry and teasel and see our selection of 30 great varieties, which are rich in nectar and pollen to help you get started. Plant a good mixture to feed pollinators all year round. Gardeners can also get tips and advice on which plants are best for pollinators by referring to the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list by clicking here. Or download The Wildlife Trusts' pollinator booklet here.
- Evening primrose, tobacco plant and honeysuckle are often regarded as the best night-scented flowers to plant. Their long, tubular flowers are perfect for moths with long tongues which can reach inside to sip up their nectar.
- Check out The Wildlife Trusts' lists of things to do – depending on the time you have available or explained month by month – here.
Paul Wilkinson, The Wildlife Trusts’ Head of Living Landscape, said: 'Our pollinating insects need a helping hand this winter. The provision of nectar-rich flowers combined with equal effort to restore and create ‘home’ habitats – including food plants for caterpillars and undisturbed ground for hibernating bees – is a winning combination.
'Although the importance of bees is now widely recognised, let’s also give credit to and raise awareness of our lesser-known pollinators, including the peacock butterfly, hummingbird hawk moth and marmalade hoverfly. Ultimately, it’s looking after the ‘'small stuff” which helps to create a healthier bigger picture for wildlife and the natural environment. Collectively, our gardens make up the biggest nature reserve in the UK. Let’s make it the biggest and best it can be!'
Andrew Salisbury, RHS Senior Entomologist, said: 'Pollinators and other invertebrates need sheltered places to spend the cold winter months. By being a little less tidy, particularly around the base of hedges and in the garden border, creating bug hotels and log piles we can provide much needed overwintering sites which will give our pollinators a head start in the spring.'
For lots more information and ideas go to the Wild About Gardens website www.wildaboutgardensweek.org.uk
Images courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts: Amy Lewis, Emma Bradshaw