Recent research promoted by UK online florist Michael Dark is hoping to encourage gardeners to plant flowers that are pollinator friendly. The decline of the bees is reaching truly catastrophic levels and this could have very serious negative effects on our environment and quality of life.
Gardens today are more important than people may understand. According to research promoted by Michael Dark, there is a significant decline of pollinators such as butterflies and bees. All of these feed on the pollen and nectar of specific flowers, and these flowers are in serious decline. The greatest decline is seen in the countryside.
Luckily, however, popular wildlife support is growing quickly. As a result, people are looking for ways to attract more insects to their gardens. They generally turn to a list of “pollinator friendly” plants. However, these list are often highly inaccurate, being based on experience and opinion rather than scientific fact.
The new study involved two summers of counting flower visiting insects. Some 32 popular garden plant varieties that flower in the summer were used. For the research, these were planted in a specific garden, including a generality checker. This was done to ensure the search findings would be scientifically accurate.
Out of the 33 plants, 13 were lavender varieties, which are widely believed to be attractive to bees. It also included four dahlias and 19 other species and hybrids. Some of these are native to Britain, others are exotic. All of these, however, flower between July and August and are widely and easily available in this country.
The main result that was uncovered was that flowers that may be attractive to the human eye may not necessarily be the right flowers for bees. It also found that the best plants turned out to be 100 times better than the worst plants, which shows how important it is to choose the right flowers and plants.
The research also showed that the most frequent visitors were bees (87%) and hoverflies (9%), followed by moths and butterflies (2%) and other insects (2%). Different varieties of plants attracted different types of insects as well. This means that choosing the right plant could really help in improving the overall population of pollinators in this country.
Other major findings included:
- Cultivated non-native flowers are usually seen as ornamental, but they are actually highly beneficial. Dahlias attract loads of bees, for instance. However, cactus dahlias and pompoms don’t, because it is hard for an insect to get to the nectar or pollen
Lavender was particularly attractive, particularly if it is a novel colour like pink or white.
Some of the best flowers to have in a garden include Bowles Mauve Everlasting Wallflower, borage, open-flowered dahlias, marjoram and lavender. Marjoram is the best of all, as it attracts all different types of bees, butterflies and hover flies. Borage attracts the greatest number of honey bees, while lavender and dahlias attract bumblebees. Bowles mauve attracts the most butterflies.
Pelagornium, a very popular garden flower, is the least attractive to insects.
Stachys, or lamb’s ear, is popular for wool carder bees, which are very uncommon. These bees build a patch and then chase other bees away. As such, it is recommended to not grow Stachys in too great a number.
“There is lots more research to be done”, says the spokesperson for Michael Dark. “However, this piece is absolutely fascinating, looking at some of the most common flowers in UK gardens. If people were to commit to getting flowers that attract bees and other insects, this could really make a massive difference. Since these flowers are easy to grow and very affordable, they truly are perfect.”
Do you have many insects in your garden? What do you do to encourage wildlife into your backyard?