Native plants are crucial to ecosystems that help animals and insects get food and shelter. Even the smallest of gardens can help keep ecosystems thriving by planting native pollinating plants.

There are a wide variety of trees and shrubs that are common pollinators in the Northeast. They include birches (yellow, cherry, and paper), flowering dogwoods, New Jersey tea, Northern Spicebush, and dogwoods.

There are also several perennials that attract pollinators, including white snakeroot, red columbine, swamp and butterfly milkweed, and purple angelica.

Native plant communities provide a number of necessities for insects, including:

Food: Native flowering plants provide nectar and pollen.

Shelter: If plants are clustered together, they offer shelter from predators.

Places to Raise Young: Host plants attract butterflies and let them produce the next generation. In addition, many native bees are solitary and lay eggs in tiny tunnels in dead trees, fallen. branches, hollow stems, or in sandy soil. Leave standing dead trees, fallen logs, and bare patches of sandy soil. You can even put out a bee house filled with nesting tubes.

Attract hummingbirds by planting dense shrubs for nesting.

Once you’ve planted your native plants, you need to make sure they stay healthy, so that they can aid insects. Here’s how:

Avoid Using Pesticides: Native plants attract ladybugs, wasps and other enemies of garden pests. These insects make for a healthy garden, and act as a food source for birds. Instead of spraying pesticides, hand-pick pests or wash them off with water from a hose.

If you must spray, only use organic or natural pest deterrents such as soap, garlic and chili pepper. Spray at night, when flowers are not blooming. Only use products that target specific pests.

Provide Clean Water: Be sure pollinating species have water by filling a shallow birdbath with gravel or creating a muddy patch in a corner of your yard.

Want to know more about what native plants will work best in your garden? Call Hufnagel Landscape Design and Construction today at 201-869-5680 to get started.