ST. PAUL, Minn. — Is your garden pollinator-friendly? What about your neighbors?
“The good news is people are trying,” said Julie Weisenhorn, Extension horticulture educator. “People are being more careful when it comes to pesticides and the plants they chose to grow.”
To help gardeners, University of Minnesota Extension launched a pollinator landscape survey in 2017, the first university-based online tool of its kind. So far, more than 950 people have taken the five-minute survey.
The first year of the survey showed more gardeners stop and think before using pesticides. Nearly half never use them and more than a third reported they might use chemicals if they thought a plant was going to die from disease or insect damage.
“It shows that people are stopping and thinking about it before they’re reaching for the spray bottle,” Weisenhorn said. “In the past, people would say, ‘something is chewing on my leaves, I need to spray.’ Hopefully, they are first identifying what’s going on before assuming it’s a problem.”
Survey signals improvements–and ways to do better
The survey shows what gardeners are doing well and what they can improve, including:
Plant diversity helps pollinators. Eighty-six percent of respondents have both native and non-native plants and Weisenhorn believes there is room for both in our landscapes.
Only half the respondents planted blooms for spring (April-May) and fall (September and October). “The bees that become early active in the season and hang around in the fall all need healthy nectar and pollen,” she said. “Start thinking about what you’ll plant this fall.”
More education is needed on creating habitat for ground and stem-nesting native bees, which rely on leaves and flower stems. Leave some leaf litter and stems for cover and nesting.
Minnesotans can take the survey any time at www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/flowers-for-pollinators/#survey The survey also connects participants to more information on creating pollinator-friendly yards, gardens and fields.
More resources for gardeners
The Extension horticulture team offers a regular newsletter by email to provide Minnesotans research-based, practical information on yards and gardens. To subscribe, visit:z.umn.edu/YardGardenSubscribe
More on yard and garden is available at www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/.
— University of Minnesota Extension
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