The Dirt Diva

Tailoring your garden to your needs!

Pollinators in Peril? Gardeners to the Rescue!


When I design a new perennial garden, I strive to create something that has a purpose other than being pretty. Specifically, I choose plants to serve as food sources for our silent food producers-the pollinators, many of whom are in grave danger. Since helping them includes planting certain species of flowers, grasses and shrubs (many of which are native and beautiful), while refraining from pesticides and herbicides, this is a win-win for me! Gardening for pollinators easily achieves more than looking pretty. Here is an example of a garden I take care of, (designed and planted by my client) to illustrate the point:

Pollinator Welcome Garden

Pollinator Welcome Garden

This swath of perennial flowers has replaced a large portion of the front lawn, and from spring-fall it is visited by bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, bats and other winged creatures in search of pollen, nectar and water.  Did the owner set out to create a garden specifically for pollinators? Not really. But he’s now got a gorgeous garden with righteous purpose!

Q.What are pollinators?

A.Pollination occurs when pollen is moved within or among flowers by pollinating animals such as birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, beetles, or by the wind.

Q. Why do pollinators matter?

Worldwide, roughly 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated in order to produce the goods on which we depend.  Apples, blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, potatoes, pumpkins, vanilla, almonds, and tequila are just some of the products we consume that are totally dependent on pollinators to produce fruit. In the United States alone, pollination by honey bees, native bees, and other insects produces $40 billion worth of products annually.

Q. Are pollinators really in trouble?

A. Unfortunately, they are in big trouble. Worldwide, there is disturbing evidence that pollinating animals have suffered greatly from loss of habitat, misuse of pesticides and herbicides, introduced and invasive plant and animal species, and diseases and parasites. Many pollinators are federally “listed species,” meaning that there is evidence of their disappearance in natural areas. The U.S. has lost over 50% of its managed honeybee colonies over the past 10 years. (Source

Recently I learned of a fabulous resource for educating how crucial pollinators are to our food source and how we gardeners can help improve pollinator’s perilous situation. Pollinator Partnership, at This link will take you directly to their downloadable planting guides, which they have spent painstaking hours to create for each region of the USA! The guides are thorough, and the real meat and potatoes is the pollinator-promoting plant list tailored specifically to your region. You can search by zipcode to find the appropriate guide for your region. Here is the direct link to the guide for our region, which they call Adirondack/New England Mixed Forest/Coniferous Forest/Alpine Meadow Province

Do you have an IPhone or Android device? The Pollinator Partnership has created the Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener App, which acts as a compact version of the guide, and helps you shop for the right plants for your specific needs.

Most likely you’ve heard of the plight of the honeybee, and colony collapse disorder, a dreadful fungal disease thought to have been caused by over-use of pesticides in commercial operations.

Monarch butterfly populations have also been severely impacted due to loss of habitat, as they lay their eggs exclusively on members of the Asclepias (ass-klee-pee-us) genus. The Asclepias genus include the Milkweeds and Butterfly Weeds. These plants serve as the sole source of food for the larvae. Monarchs are the only butterfly species that migrate in both directions, like birds do, travelling as much as 3,000 miles to and from their winter and summer homes. During that trip they depend on feeding areas of milkweed, many of which are gone now.

Monarchs on Buddleia

What can you do to promote and protect pollinators?

  • Plant for pollinators-Cultivate native plans, especially those that provide nectar and larval food for pollinators – (refer to Planting Guides mentioned above)
  • Plant drifts or clumps of the Asclepias genus wherever you can (the milkweeds and butterfly weeds)
  • Install houses for bats and native Mason bees, like this one
  • Supply salt or mineral licks for butterflies and water for all wildlife (like birdbaths)
  • Reduce pesticide and herbicide use, or better yet, eliminate them from your property.
  • Join the Pollinator Partnership.
  • Buy plants from Project Native to support their work.
  • Help your friends and family understand pollinator’s role in their lives.

Where can you buy flowering plants with pollinators in mind? Here are some excellent resources, specializing in native plants, pollinator plants and hard-to-find varieties. In addition to inquiring at your local nursery, visit:

New York:

Amanda’s Garden
8410 Harpers Ferry Rd., Springwater, NY 14560 Tel: 585/750-6288
E-mail: Web:
Native perennials, wildflowers. Plants are native to the northeast.

Catskill Native Nursery
607 Samsonville Rd. Kerhonksen, NYTel: 845/626-2758 Web:
Supply herbaceous perennials, grasses, ferns, groundcovers, shrubs and trees. Specialize in plants native to New York State but carry non native species as well for all your landscaping needs. Knowledgeable staff on site.

Fiddlehead Creek Native Plant Nursery
7381 State Route 40, Fort Ann, NY 12827 Tel: 518/632-5505
E-mail: Web:
We carry herbaceous perennials, grasses, ferns, groundcovers, and shrubs. We specialize in plants native to New York State and the Adirondack Park that can be used for stream and lake shore buffers as well as rain gardens. And of course our plants can also be used for regular landscaping purposes as well!

Fort Pond Native Plants, Inc.
26 S Embassy St., P.O. Box 5061, Montauk, NY 11954
Tel: 631/668-6452 Fax: 631/668-6439
E-mail: Web:
A native & ornamental plant nursery & garden center, devoted to promoting the use of natives in the landscape. We grow our own grasses, native perennials, ferns and shrubs in containers. We strive to offer local East coast maritime genotypes.

Native Landscapes & Garden Center
991 Rt. 22, Quaker Ridge Plaza, Pawling, NY 12564
Tel: 845/855-7050 Fax: 845/855-7016
E-mail: Web:
Native Plant & Garden Center are plant brokers of native perennials, shrubs and trees to zones 5 and 6, northeast United States.

The Plantsmen Nursery, LLC
482 Peruville Rd, Groton, NY 13073
Tel: 607/533-7193
E-mail: Web:
Native plants, including perennials, shrubs, ferns, grasses, trees and more, for beautiful, sustainable landscapes. Design and installation services available.

Seneca Hill Perennials
3712 County Route 57, Oswego, NY 13126 Tel: 315/342-5915 Fax: 315/342-5573
E-mail: Web:
Our main emphases are on unusual US natives (including asclepias and species clematis), hardy species from South Africa’s Drakensberg, hardy cyclamen, species peonies and hardy aroids. We propagate and grow virtually everything we sell, and make every effort to obtain collected seed with known provenance.

St. Lawrence Nurseries
325 St. Hwy. 345, Potsdam-Madrid Rd., Potsdam, NY 13676. Tel: 315/265-0778
E-mail: Web:
Edible ornamentals, including June berry, chokeberry (Aronia), elderberry, currants, and goose-berries, even true bog cranberries. Many hardy native nut trees: black walnut, oak, butternut, and hazel Bert. USDA Zone 3.

White Oak Nursery
801 W. Washington St, Geneva, NY 14456 Tel: 315.789.3509
E-mail: Web:
A complete list of native trees and shrubs of the eastern US. Specializing in small affordable potted plants that survive under harsh natural planting conditions. Web site has information on restoring native plant communities, natural landscaping and propagating native plants from seed.


American Native Nursery
Mark Brownlee, 2191 Hillcrest Road, Quakertown, PA 18951 Tel: 855/PLANT-NATIVE (855/752-6862) Fax: 855/PLANT-NATIVE (855/752-6862)
E-mail: Web:
US native plant nursery with operations spanning seed collection, propagation, and grow-out for wholesale and retail customers. Many hard-to-find landscape-quality native plants in sizes ranging from plugs to B&B.

Better Forest Tree Seeds
Chris Kiratzis, 13872 Alan Seeger Rd., Petersburg, PA 16669 Tel: 814/667-3666 Fax: 814/667-3134
E-mail: Web:
Conifer tree seeds.

Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve
P.O. Box 685, New Hope, PA 18938-0685 Tel: 215/862-2924 Fax: 215/862-1846
E-mail: Web:
Pennsylvania native trees, shrubs, vines, herbaceous material, seeds.

Doyle Farm Nursery
158 Norris Rd., Delta, PA 17314-9637 Tel: 717/862-3134
The native plants that the nursery offers are mostly seed-sown (seeds we collect regionally, or from native plant seed sources). Other plants (cultivars) we buy from native growers. We offer only herbaceous plants.

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery, LLC
2415 Route 100, Orefield, PA 18069 Tel: 610/395-2570 Fax: 610/395-3546
Container trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, ferns, and aquatic plants. Small scale garden/ landscape design and installation, small contract orders, plant sales. See website for details.

Ernst Conservation Seeds
9006 Mercer Pike, Meadville, PA 16335 Tel: 800/873-3321 Fax: 814/336-5191
E-mail: Web:

Flickingers Nursery
Tom Flickinger, PO Box 245, Sagamore, PA 16250 Tel: 800/368-7381 Fax: 724/783-6528
Bareroot pine, spruce, and fir seedlings at wholesale prices. Free catalog.

Gino’s Nursery
2237 Second Street Pike, Penns Park, PA 18943 Tel: 215/598-3992
We specialize in the growing and installation of native and edible plants that are best suited to the Mid-Atlantic region. We have a growing inventory dedicated to multi-use plants befitted to conservation management, environmental reclamation and permaculture.

Go Native Tree Farm
2310 Chestnut View Drive, Lancaster, PA 17603 Tel: 717/406-5267 Fax: 717/399-0195
E-mail: Web:
We offer containerized eastern US native trees and shrubs, including all fruit and nut trees. Volume grown hickories and other hard-to-find species for CREP type planting projects. Planting and environmental planning/consulting services available.

Heirloom Seed Project
Landis Valley Museum, 2451 Kissel Hill Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601 Tel: 717/569-0401 x202 Fax: 717/560-2147
Cultivated vegetable, herb, and ornamental seeds having historic significance from 1750-1940 in the S.E. PA region. Seeds are produced from open-pollinated, organically grown cultivars.

Heirloom Seeds
P.O. Box 245, West Elizabeth, PA 15088-0245 Tel: 412/384-0852 Fax: 412/384-0852
E-mail: mail@ Web:
Seeds only. Vegetable and flower seeds, herbs. Most originated in U.S. Place of origin is listed in catalog for many items.

Meadowood Native Plant Nursery
24 Meadowood Drive, Hummelstown, PA 17036 Tel: 717/566-9875
E-mail: Web:
We offer native perennials, grasses, vines, ferns, aquatics, shrubs and trees. All of our plants are container-grown and nursery-propagated from seed, cuttings or divisions; none are collected from the wild. We serve the region’s non-profit conservation community, and we also welcome home gardeners and other retail customers. Please visit our website for contact information.

Mid Atlantic Natives
12506 Susquehanna Trail South, New Freedom, PA 17349 Tel: 717/227-0924 Fas: 717-227-0653
E-mail: Web:
Mid Atlantic Natives is a segment of Superior Nursery that has specialized in propogating Northeast, Mid Atlantic (Chesapeake Bay Watershed region) native trees, shrubs, perennials, grasses, & herbaceous emergents since 1995. We specialize in growing and selling plants native to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Virginia & West Virginia. We also provide Native Landscape restoration, design and install services.

Musser Forests, Inc.
1880 Route 119 Hwy N., P.O. Box 340, Dept. 25-99, Indiana, PA 15701 Order: 800/643.8319 Tel: 724/465-5685 Fax: 724/465-9893
E-mail: Web:
Evergreen and deciduous tree seedlings native to N.A. for climatezones 2 to 6. Offer many species suitable for wetland plantings and wildlife food.

Northeast Native Perennials
1716 E. Sawmill Rd, Haycock Twp, Quakertown, PA 18951 Tel: 215/901-5552
E-mail: Web:
We are a small family-owned retail nursery offering native trees, shrubs and perennials, mostly native to the Northeastern U.S. We cater to the home gardener and are open mid-April through August, and by appointment after August 31st. Many of our plants are grown from seed or plug in our greenhouse or on our property.

Primrose Path
921 Scottsdale-Dawson Rd., Scottdale, PA 15683 Tel: 724/887-6756 Fax: 724/887-3077
E-mail: Web:
Woodland shade plants (mostly): specializing in our own hybrids and selections of Heuchera, Tiarella x Heucherella, Phlox, Primula and Asarum.

Sugarbush Nursery
4272 Morgantown Rd, Mohnton, PA 19540 Tel: 610/856-0998 Fax: 610/856-0998
E-mail: Web:
Herbaceous plants, grasses, ferns, and vines that are native to PA; organic fertilizers, pest and weed controls, bagged composts and composting supplies, manual and electric mowers and trimmers, heirloom tomatoes. Everything is grown and/or cared for organically.

Yellow Springs Farm Native Plant Nursery
Al and Catherine Renzi, 1165 Yellow Springs Rd., Chester Springs, PA 19425 Tel: 610/827-2014 Fax: 610/482-9311
E-mail: Web:
Specializing in wildflowers, ferns, grasses, shrubs and trees native to PA & the Mid-Atlantic area. We have a particular interest in land stewardship, education, & the roles of native plants in restoring and maintaining a diverse ecosystem. We ship plants!

 Want to comment? If you don’t see the comment box below, click on the title of this blog post and scroll to the bottom of the post.





Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.