Create a DIY Pollinator Container to welcome bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden with plants they love. An easy and fun way to celebrate Earth Day and brighten your patio or deck, while making a positive impact on the environment.
Happy Earth Day!
Earth Day comes around every year to remind us about the importance of conservation
so we can do our part to help our planet stay healthy!
If you’re a gardener, every day is Earth Day when you go out
to dig in the dirt, cultivate and care for nature’s gifts.
Never underestimate the power of your backyard to help the planet and pollinators!
Whether it’s tending a window box of flowers, a patio container of tomatoes,
or planting shrubs or trees, you’re nurturing plants that absorb carbon dioxide
as well as air pollutants, which in turn, produce clean oxygen that we all need to breathe.
Your garden can provide a safe haven for bees, butterflies, birds as well as
other pollinators who play crucial roles in maintaining the local ecosystem.
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Many pollinator populations are in decline attributed to a loss in feeding and nesting habitats.
Pollution, the misuse of chemicals and changes in climatic patterns
are all contributing factors in shrinking and shifting pollinator populations.
Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need pollinators.
Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species
and more than 1200 crops. That means that we should be grateful for pollinators,
as we have them to thank for 1 out of every 3 bites of food we eat.
Maintaining your landscape in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way
ensures that the soil, air, and water that native wildlife, pollinators
(and people!) rely upon, stay clean and healthy.
Welcome the bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden with plants they love. . .
the more pollinators that visit, the larger your harvest of veggies, fruit, and flowers!
Creating a DIY Pollinator Container is an easy and fun way to celebrate Earth Day
Here’s an easy recipe to build a container to attract pollinators!
Adjust this recipe to the plants available at your garden center,
the size of your container and your gardening zone; choosing the
plants of your choice that attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
You’ll need an area that gets 4 – 6 hours of sun a day (or
according to your plant tag recommendations), for the most blooms.
Start with a good quality potting mix.
I’ve had great success with Miracle-Gro Potting Mix, which feeds your container up to 6 months.
To conserve water, you may want to try a moisture control potting mix.
I tried Moisture Control Miracle-Gro a few years ago, but found it kept my plants too wet and caused root rot.
To help with drainage and to take up some space in the bottom of my planter,
I added some pinecones, which there is no shortage of thanks to an
Eastern white pine tree in our yard. :)
My container is 16 x 20 inches. I filled the bottom a quarter of the way up with pinecones.
Alternatively, reuse your empty plastic garden pots turned upside in the bottom of your container to help provide drainage and use less potting mix.
I selected some pollinator favorites and thrillers, fillers and spillers from the garden center:
Salvia ‘May Night’ (Meadow Sage) / thriller
Salvia ‘Red Lipstick’ / thriller
Lantana ‘Bandolist Mango’ / filler
‘Superbells Holy Smokes!’ Calibrachoa / spiller & filler
Asparagus Fern / spiller
I left some empty space in the center of the container for the plants to spread and grow.
Once your container is planted, water it thoroughly,
until you see water draining out of the bottom.
Let your potting mix dry to the touch between waterings.
I used a pot trivet /stand to elevate the pot for better drainage and to allow air circulation.
You can also use pot feet to elevate your container, which also helps protect the wood surface
of your deck or porch.
In the heat of the summer, my containers require daily watering.
If in doubt, use a 3-in-1 Soil Meter, that allows you to test for soil moisture level,
as well as pH value and sunlight levels.
Salvia ‘May Night’ (Meadow Sage) is a perennial.
After a season in the container, I’ll move it to the garden to join others we have planted.
It thrives in full sun with the deep purple flower spikes attract bees and butterflies and are deer resistant.
Deadheading and a little extra watering help ensure re-blooming.
Fun fact: Bees actually see color in the blue-violet spectrum better than other hues
so growing blue flowers is the best way to attract them.
Lantana is butterfly magnet!
Lantana blooms throughout summer, can take the heat and is drought-tolerant.
It comes in a variety of colors and also attracts hummingbirds.
Salvia is ideal source of nectar for hummingbirds with their tubular shape blooms.
Salvias with red, pink or orange flowers are particularly alluring to hummingbirds.
Hummingbirds eat every 10-15 minutes and have to consume 50% of their body weight
every day to keep up with their active metabolisms. With wings beating up to 80 times per second,
hummingbirds will visit between 1,000-2,000 flowers daily; from dawn until dusk.
Read more: Keep Calm and Hummingbird On: Fearless Flyers and Winged Beauties
Calibrachoas, also known as million bells, resemble mini-petunias.
The have a trailing growth habit, ideal for hanging baskets and containers.
and attract hummingbirds and bees.
They’re also available in a variety of colors.
If your calibrachoas start to get leggy as they tend do by mid-summer,
pinch them back to encourage branching and new flowers.
Do you have room in your landscape to sow seeds or a raised bed for planting flowers?
Consider planting a bee-friendly wildflower seed blend or Save the Bees Seed Mix,
an affordable way to provide food for bees.
‘Cut and Come Again’ Zinnias live up to their name. . .the more you cut, the more flowers they produce.
They don’t require any attention other than daily watering for the seeds to germinate
(and protecting the tender seedlings from hungry rabbits in your garden!)🐰
Growing zinnias from seed is *sow* easy!
Wait until the last frost has passed before directly sowing zinnia seeds outside.
Direct sow them into your soil following the package directions,
planting the seeds only about ¼-inch deep. You’ll see seedlings sprout in four to seven days.
Zinnias love the sun and heat, blooming until frost,
which November in our zone 7b garden . . .
They attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds . . . a pollinator trifecta!
Ways to Conserve Water in Your Garden:
🌱 Mulch planting beds with newspaper, leaves, bark, or wood chips.
Mulches retain soil moisture and improve soil quality.
🌱 Water your plantings with a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system.
Less water evaporates this way than with a sprinkler, and you target your watering.
🌱 Use a timing device with any watering system.
🌱 Use “wasted” water for your plants. A rain barrel or cistern that captures
rainfall from your roof is a great garden reservoir.
Avoid using harmful pesticides and herbicides that can harm pollinators
and the environment.
Instead, use natural alternatives such as neem oil,
soap sprays and beneficial bugs like ladybugs and praying mantises
to help deter pests.
Gardeners are encouraged to create pollinator-friendly habitats
that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, as well as host plants.
Select old-fashioned varieties of flowers whenever possible,
since breeding has caused some modern blooms to lose their fragrance
and/or the nectar/pollen needed to attract and feed pollinators.
🐝 Bee Kind to Pollinators:
🐝 Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides. If you must use them, use the most selective and least toxic ones and apply them at night
when most pollinators aren’t active.
🐝 Plant in clusters to create a “target” for pollinators to find.
🐝 Plant for continuous bloom throughout the growing season from spring to fall.
🐝 Select a site that has shelter from wind (by trees and shrubs), has at least partial sun, and can provide water.
🐝 Allow material from dead branches and logs remain as nesting sites; reduce mulch to allow patches of bare ground for ground-nesting bees to utilize; consider installing wood nesting blocks for wood-nesting natives.
Not only is gardening good for the environment, it’s good for your mental health!
Gardening can be a great stress reliever, especially during these uncertain times. . .
unplug, go outdoors and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.
Not only is the physical activity of gardening beneficial,
just being around nature can improve your mood and make you feel more at peace.
Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get flowers!
I hope this inspires you to plant a container or flowers for the pollinators.
Choose your favorite bloomers, dig in and have fun brightening your outdoor garden space!
Happy Gardening. ♥
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What a wonderful post, Mary, filled with helpful ideas to promote pollination and a beautiful garden! Happy Earth Day!
Thank you Ann! Happy Earth Day and weekend to you❣️🌎🌸🐝🦋
Beautiful as always! Happy Earth Day
Thank you Sandi, Happy Earth Day❣️🌎🌸🐝🦋
Happy Earth Day Mary! You are such a wonderful advocate for the importance of bees and gardens, thank you for sharing your vast knowledge and love of gardening. I love the quote about gardening being cheaper than therapy and you get flowers 🌺 Happy gardening!
Thanks so much Jenna! Happy weekend to you❣️🌎🌸🐝🦋
I’m so excited – I’ve followed you for years. But we recently followed our kids to the Charlotte area (we’re in Gastonia). So I don’t have to adjust your gardening suggestions at all, I can use them verbatim! Can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt with all your advice and plant suggestions!
How fun you’re close by and near your kids Jacki! And smart that you’re far enough away from Charlotte traffic. :) Happy planting and Earth Day to you❣️🌎🐝🦋🌸
Thanks Mary! Love all the tips and the beautiful potted plants. Enjoy your weekend. Clara❤️
Thank you Clara, Happy weekend to you! 🐝🌸🦋💕
Thank you for all your valuable information, Mary! I did plant some lantana and maybe hummingbirds will visit? They never would come to my feeders. Maybe I should plant some red salvia, too? Happy Earth Day to you and enjoy your therapy in your beautiful garden! ❤️
Hi Kitty, I bet they’d love salvia! Happy Earth Day and weekend to you! 🌎🦋🌸🐝💕
Happy Earth Day, Mary! Your containers look beautiful with all the pretty blooms. You have also gave us some wonderful tips for our gardening, I have been busy this week planting containers. I have also spied a few hummingbirds, butterflies, and bumblebees enjoying my blooms. Have a wonderful weekend!
Thank you Shannon! We’re still waiting for some hummingbird visitors here! Happy Earth Day and weekend to you 🌎🌱🦋🐝🌸💕
Mary, Happy Earth Day. Thankyou for reminding everyone about the importance of our pollinators and that everyone must do their part to make our earth healthier.
Just came back from a garden club plant Sale where I bought several plants to add to my pollinator garden. Now if these rain storms move past us I will go out and do some planning as to where to plant my newest additions. Have a good weekend.
Thank you for your visit and comment Kathy! We had a doozy of a storm move through today, complete with a tornado warning. Enjoy your planting, Happy Earth Day 🌎 🌱🐝🌸🦋
Hi Mary ~ thank you for giving me a beautiful project for this weekend. Can’t wait to go out and design my pollinator container! And a bonus for me…because it’s in a container, it’s Labrador safe ! Hugs, Dorinda
Hi Dorinda, that made me laugh! 🐾 Happy Earth Day to you, thank you for your visit! 🌎🌱🐝🌻🦋
Happy Earth Day Mary. Such a beautiful post with lots of gorgeous flowers. The importance of pollinators is crucial. You have so many tips for creating a lovely garden. Happy weekend.
Thank you Linda, I wish we had as many hummers visiting our feeders as you do. Happy Earth Day 🌎🌱🦋🌸🐝
Mary – Your photographs are delightful on this rainy day in Vermont. I am an artist and wonder if you’d mind if I used a couple of your photos here as inspiration?
Thank you Melody! You’re welcome to use some for inspiration! I’d love to see you’re artistic rendering when you’re finished! 🎨
What a wonderful idea and fun way to help our pollinators! I can’t wait to try this after our last freeze date in May. Thank you Mary for always inspiring us. 🌸🐝🦋
Have fun planting Kathy! 🪴Thank you for your visit and comment, Happy Earth Day 🌎 🌱🐝🌸🦋
Mary, I’m itching to get to garden center and pick up some flowers for the pollinators! I filled my hummingbird feeders this week as we usually see their return around mid April.
Thank you sharing your beautiful garden and creativity. Jerrie
I know what you mean Jerrie, I couldn’t wait to hit a couple of garden centers this week! Thank you for your visit and comment, Happy Earth Day 🌎 🌱🐝🌻🦋
Hooray for our pollinators, thanks for sharing all this info and for a way to take care of them!
Thank you for your visit and comment Sue! Happy Earth Day 🌎🌱🐝🌻🦋
I share your love for our pollinators Mary! Thanks for this excellent post and reminder. Happy Earth Day 🌎🌱🐝🌻🦋
Happy Earth Day Teresa, thank you for your visit and comment!🌎🌱🐝🌻🦋
You’re so right, every day is Earth Day if you’re a gardener! My husband and I have been gardening for 30 years and never used pesticides or herbicides. The bees are so important to our planet and food supply. Happy Gardening to you Mary. 🌸🌱🐝🪴
Happy Gardening and Earth Day to you Lisa! 🌎🌱🐝🌸🦋
BEAUTIFUL post! It’s good to be reminded of these things!!!! 🐝🦋🐛🐝🦋🐛
Thank you Ellen, Happy Weekend❣️🌎🐝🌸🦋
Well every day being Earth Day suits you and your beautiful botanical world perfectly. What a stunning post full of God’s beauty. You do it so very well, Mary. Thank you for the eye candy!!) And oh my word – using pinecones for drainage is so genius!!! We have sooooo many and that’s absolutely brilliant. Yay!!
Thank you for your sweet comment and visit Michele, you’re too kind! Happy Weekend❣️🌎🐝🦋🌱🌸
Mary, I so enjoyed all of your photos and important info. My RM planted a wildflower mix last year and it did well, but this spring it is amazing. The bees are loving it and I have
been cutting a few stems to enjoy indoors! Happy Sunday 💛
Thank you Pam, Happy Gardening to you❣️🌎🐝🌻🌱🦋
FABULOUS post, learned so much from bees and blues to metabolism rates! Gorgeous photos as always, thank you for sharing year after year, always a treat to visit!
Thank you! I know the pollinators love your garden and acres of flowers! 🌎🐝🌱🦋💕
What an absolutely beautiful post for Earth Day! I just love all the photos of your flowers with the butterflys, bees and ladybugs – picture perfect beauty! What is the silver spikey velvety plant that the bees love? Also what is the plant with the yellow flower that butterflies love and the ladybugs were enjoying? Is that a milkweed? I need to add those two plants to my collection…thank you Mary for taking care of our Mother Earth and sharing your stunning photos, quotes and tips. I so enjoy this!
Thank you Linda! The silver spikes are on lanb’s ear. It takes a couple of growing seasons before it blooms. The yellow plant is a “Hello Yellow” milkweed, there are several varieties. I just read that common milkweed and swamp milkweed are preferred by butterflies! Thank you for your visit and comment, Happy Weekend 🌎🐝🦋🌱💕
Your gardens and photography are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
Beautiful post Mary and what a lovely tribute to Earth Day! Your flowers are so gorgeous and it’s no wonder the pollinators cannot resist them. Wishing you a lovely week!
All beautiful.. Thank you for sharing your garden!
Thanks for all the information on pollinators. I love every photo on your blog.