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Plant Pollinators

Updated: Feb 13

If you are still in the midst of planting your summer garden or have some outdoor potted plants, consider adding some known pollinators.

Why is Pollination Important?

Virtually all the world’s seed plants need to be pollinated. This is just as true for cone-bearing plants, such as pine trees, as for the more colorful and familiar flowering plants. Pollen, looking like insignificant yellow dust, bears a plant’s male sex cells and is a vital link in the reproductive cycle.

Pollination occurs when birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, other animals, water, or the wind carries pollen from flower to flower or moved within flowers. The successful transfer of pollen in and between flowers of the same plant species leads to fertilization, successful seed development, and fruit production. (1)

With adequate pollination, wildflowers:

  • Reproduce and produce enough seeds for dispersal and propagation.

  • Maintain genetic diversity within a population.

  • Develop adequate fruits to entice seed dispersers.

One of my favorite summertime birds is the hummingbird. These small birds are fantastic pollinators and it always makes me joyful to see them. I prefer to use plants to attract hummingbirds rather than to put out the typical sugar water.

Hummingbirds are often a major source of pollination for a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees. In fact, according to the USDA Forest Service, “In the continental United States, hummingbirds are key in wildflower pollination.”

Brightly colored flowers that are tubular hold the most nectar and are particularly attractive to hummingbirds.

What types of flowers attract hummingbirds?

  • Tubular and have petals that are recurved to be out of the way.

  • Have tubes, funnels, and cups.

  • Strong support for perching.

  • Brightly colored: red, yellow, or orange.

  • Odorless (birds have a poor sense of smell).

  • Open during the day.

  • Prolific nectar producers with nectar deeply hidden.