Wallaces Garden Center-Bettendorf-Iowa-Pollinator Week-butterflies on aster flowers

It’s Pollinator Week! Here’s How to Plant Pollinator-Friendly Gardens in Iowa

June 17th marks the beginning of Pollinator Week, and there's no better way to celebrate the bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators that tirelessly contribute to our ecosystem than by transforming our backyards into pollinator-friendly gardens! Embracing sustainable gardening practices not only beautifies our yards but also supports local biodiversity, so let's explore how we can make our gardens more welcoming to these vital creatures with the best tips and plant choices for Iowa to keep them buzzing all season long!


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Why Pollinator-Friendly Gardens Matter

Pollinators play a crucial role in ecosystems and food production, helping plants reproduce by transferring pollen from one flower to another. Without their efforts, our gardens and farms would struggle to produce the abundance we often take for granted. In fact, many of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts we enjoy wouldn't exist without them, and about one out of every three bites of food we take is made possible by these industrious creatures! By filling our gardens with some of the best plants for pollinators, we contribute to the health of our planet and support local biodiversity, which in turn benefits our communities here in Bettendorf and throughout the Quad Cities.

Best Perennials and Annuals for Iowa Gardens

To create a pollinator paradise anywhere in your landscape and attract bees and butterflies to your Bettendorf backyard, focus on planting annual and perennial species that thrive in Iowa's climate and soil conditions. Here are some of our top choices for a buzzing backyard this summer:


Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): Known for its striking purple petals and central cone, the purple coneflower blooms from late spring to early fall, attracting bees and butterflies. It also can provide shelter during the cold months for out native insects if you leave the tall stalks overwinter.

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta): With its bright yellow petals and dark center, this hardy flower blooms from mid-summer to early fall, providing a steady food source for pollinators.


Wallaces Garden Center-Bettendorf-Iowa-Pollinator Week-bee and hummingbird pollinating flowersBee Balm (Monarda fistulosa): The bee balm's tubular flowers are a favorite among bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, blooming from mid-summer to early fall.

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa): Butterfly weed is a native species of milkweed in Iowa, and is an essential host plant for monarch butterflies. Its bright orange flowers bloom from late spring to early summer.

Salvia (Salvia spp.): Known for its vibrant spikes of flowers, salvia is a hardy and long-blooming favorite of bees and hummingbirds.

Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans): This vigorous climber produces trumpet-shaped flowers that are perfect for hummingbirds. They typically bloom from summer to fall.


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Zinnias (Zinnia spp.): These vibrant flowers bloom from late spring until the first frost, providing a long-lasting nectar source for bees and butterflies.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus): Not only do sunflowers add height and drama to your garden, but their large, pollen-rich blooms are also irresistible to bees! Leaving the sunflowers in place over winter will not only provide food for animals, but also important shelter for native pollinators.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus): These delicate flowers come in various colors and bloom from summer to fall, attracting a wide range of pollinators.

Salvia (Salvia guaranitica) Towering spikes of trumpet shaped flowers in bright shades of red, purple and blue. Hummingbird magnets that add height and interest 

When planning your garden, use a variety of plants that bloom at different times to ensure a continuous food supply for pollinators throughout the growing season. Arrange your plants in clusters to make it easier for pollinators to find them, and include a mix of flower shapes and colors to attract different types of pollinators.


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How to Keep Pollinators Buzzing All Season Long

Maintaining a pollinator-friendly garden goes beyond just planting the right flowers. Here are some practical tips to keep your garden buzzing:


Avoid Pesticides: Pesticides are harmful to pollinators, so to protect these beneficial creatures, opt for organic gardening methods and natural pest control solutions.


Provide Water Sources: Like all living creatures, pollinators need water to survive. Place shallow dishes of water throughout your garden with pebbles or marbles for bees and butterflies to rest on while they drink, and include some shallow bird baths or misters for hummingbirds.


Create Nesting Habitats: Different pollinators have different nesting needs. Native bees, for example, often use hollow stems or bare patches of soil to build their nests. Leave some areas of your garden undisturbed to accommodate them.


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Observe and Learn: Spend time in your garden observing your visiting pollinators at work. Not only is it a relaxing activity, but it also helps you better understand their needs. It is also important to remember that although bees and butterflies are great pollinators, many other insects fit this description. Hoverflies, moths, and even wasps all play their role. Understanding and encouraging the ecosystem in your garden is essential! 


As Pollinator Week reminds us of the invaluable role pollinators play, it's the perfect time to take action. Creating pollinator-friendly gardens is a simple yet impactful way to support these vital creatures and contribute to our community's ecological health. By choosing the right plants and maintaining eco-friendly yards, we can ensure our essential pollinators continue to thrive. To celebrate pollinators even more, check out the Butterfly Pergola Garden at the Quad City Botanical Center this summer to see pollinator-friendly plants work their magic first-hand. 


To get started on your own pollinator friendly gardens, come see us at Wallace's today! We have pollinator plants in bloom right now, along with everything else you'll need to bring in those bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds all summer long!


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