Most flowering plants depend on bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and other animals for pollination. Pollination is an essential part of plant reproduction, producing fertile seeds and, in some species,
fruit. In Alaska our pollinators include at least 95 bee species and 75 butterfly species. A lot of the bees won’t look like the typical honey or bumble bees we often visualize when we think of a bee. There are a lot of other insect pollinators such as types of wasps and the Syrphid Flies, also known as Flower Flies or Hover Flies. Pollinators are designed to be attracted to different flower shapes, colors, scents, etc. There are plants that grow native to Alaska that you can plant in hopes to attract more pollinators to your garden.
Wildflower mixes that are native are a popular and colorful way to attract pollinators to your garden. It is important to buy wildflowers that are adapted to this climate. Some of the commercial wildflower mixes at box stores will not fair as well as mixes designed to grow here. Look for flowers such as Arnica, Valerian, Northern Geranium, Monkshood, Yarrow, Violets, Indian Paintbrush, and Western Columbine. These colorful native species can provide nectar and pollen, are adapted to our climate, and require less care than garden exotics.
Plant groups of native plants versus single plants to better attract pollinators. Large patches of each plant species help pollinators forage more efficiently. Choose plants that will bloom sequentially from spring through late summer to provide nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season. Plant a variety of flower shapes and colors to attract different pollinators. This will help ensure all garden plants are being pollinated by attracting a variety of pollinators throughout the season.
Other plants to include in your garden for attracting pollinators include Lupines, Bluebells, Forget-Me-Not, Foxglove, Poppy, Columbine, Raspberry, and Blueberry Bushes. Some common landscape shrub perennials to plant include barberry bushes, primroses, and spirea.