Plant a Habitat
Beyond national parks and other protected areas, pollinators are struggling due to landscape fragmentation: urban development, roads, forestry, industrial agriculture, and more can be damaging to wildlife habitats across Canada.
Your outdoor space has what it takes to make a difference! Typical yards and balconies have enormous potential to become “stepping stones” for pollinators as they move between parks and other protected areas.
Step one: Choose a site
Choose an area in your yard or designate a corner of your balcony for pollinator-friendly plants. If you don’t have space at home, look for a community garden in your neighbourhood, or suggest creating a garden at your workplace or school!
Wherever you decide to plant, take note of the site’s growing conditions: Is your chosen site sunny, shaded, or somewhere in between? Does the soil tend to be moist, or is it well-drained?
Understanding your site conditions will help you determine the best plant(s) for your space. Plants that are well-suited to their location will look beautiful, be healthier and require minimal maintenance.
Step two: Choose Native Plant(s)
The single best thing you can do to improve habitat for pollinators and other wildlife is to plant native plants!
What’s all the buzz about native plants?
A species is considered native if it occurs within a region or ecosystem without having been introduced by humans. The most important thing to understand is that native plants are interconnected to native pollinators and other wildlife.
Indigenous knowledge teaches us about the interconnectedness of all living and non-living things, and how everything in the universe has a purpose. This worldview is upheld by scientists who study the relationships between native plants and native pollinators.
For example, many native plants have evolved to attract specific species of native pollinators. In turn, these pollinators have evolved to emerge at the exact time these plants come into flower, and to provide the most efficient transfer of pollen for these plants. The match up between pollinator emergence and plant flowering time is just one example of interconnectedness and is a result of many years of co-evolution.
Losing even a single species in the web of interconnectedness can have enormous ripple effects on ecosystems that we are not yet able to fully understand or predict. For this reason, it is crucial for us to preserve the biodiversity of all native plants and animals!
Find out which plants are native to your region and would do well in your space’s growing conditions:
- Pollinator Partnership Canada has Eco-Regional Planting guides for different regions across North America. If your area is not yet featured, referencing a guide from a nearby region can still be helpful: https://www.pollinator.org/guides (Available in English only)
- There are some excellent books written specifically about gardening with native plants. Check with your local public library to see what’s available!
- Even if you only have room for one native plant – go for it! It will make a difference.
- Check out our list of Five Native Plants for Gardens in the Maritimes.
Although native plants are always preferable, planting a mix of native and non-native plants might make the most sense for your space. When considering planting non-native plants, research each species to make sure that they are not considered invasive in your area.
Step three: Get Digging and/or Potting!
It’s time to get to work! Spring and fall are generally recommended to be the best times for putting new plants in the ground.
- If your garden can accommodate a few different plants, endeavour to plant a variety of species that will bloom consecutively from early spring until late fall.
- Planting the same species in groups of three or more makes foraging more efficient and enables your garden to attract pollinators from a greater distance.
- Be sure to give your new plantings plenty of water directly after planting to help roots establish.
Step four: Enjoy the buzzing world you have created!
You will be amazed at the diversity of pollinators and songbirds who visit your native plant oasis!
In addition to supporting wildlife, gardening with native plants is a wonderful way to connect with nature everyday. Small daily interactions with nature have been shown to reduce stress, reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve focus, and much more!
For children, these small experiences often form the basis of a lifelong appreciation for the natural world. #Natureforall
Productive pollinator gardens come in every size, from a single pot on an urban balcony to a large planting on a rural acreage. Every native plant counts! Thank you for learning more about steps you can take to support pollinators at home and in your community.
Don’t forget to spread the word! We hope you encourage your friends, neighbours, workplaces, schools, and municipalities to plant native plants and adopt pollinator-friendly landscaping practices.