Bees play a vital role in our food chain. Not only do they pollinate the fruits and vegetables we eat, but they also pollinate the clover and alfalfa consumed by dairy and market animals. Due to the loss of habitat and use of pesticides though, there is a worldwide decline in bee populations.
Planting nectar-rich flowers is one way to help bees and you don't need wide open spaces to do this. Anyone with an outside balcony or patio space can grow container plants for bees.
How to Grow a Potted Bee Garden
Growing a container pollinator garden is not difficult. If you're familiar with any type of container gardening, cultivating a bee garden in pots is as simple as switching to pollinator friendly container plants. If this is your first experience with container gardening, follow these easy steps to create a potted bee garden:
- Choose a planter or two – The bigger the pot, the bigger the price tag. Don't let that discourage you from purchasing a large planter though. Evaporation and nutrient exhaustion are inversely related to planter size. Novice gardeners may find success with one big planter than with several small flowerpots.
- Provide adequate drainage – Excess moisture leads to root rot and disease. If your planter didn't come with drainage holes, use a sharp knife or drill to make several holes in the bottom of the pot.
- Use quality potting soil – Purchase bags of commercial flower potting soil to provide the nutrients your pollinator friendly container plants need to grow strong and bloom vigorously.
- Choose nectar-rich varieties of flowers – Select several types of flowers which bloom at different times so your potted bee garden will provide season-long nectar for the bees. Use the below list for suggested pollinator friendly container plants.
- Carefully plant your bee garden in pots or containers – Begin by placing newspaper, coir liners, or landscape fabric in the bottom of the planter to prevent soil from escaping. Some gardeners prefer to add a layer of gravel or charcoal to the bottom of the pot. Next, fill the planter to within 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.) from the top with potting soil. Place the plants according to mature height with taller plants in the back or middle of the container. Top off the planter with potting soil and water regularly.
- Place the container pollinator garden in full sun – Bees prefer to feed in direct sunlight. Try locating the planter where it will receive at least six hours of morning or evening sun per day. A spot with afternoon shade and a wind block will make it easier to maintain your bee garden in pots.
Pollinator Friendly Container Plants
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Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.