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Attracting pollinators to the garden

Photo: Espace pour la vie (André Sarrazin)
Pollinator, hymenoptera
  • Pollinator, hymenoptera
  • Aquilegia canadensis
  • Monarda fistulosa

Attracting pollinators to the vegetable garden has benefits, both for them and for your plants. This allows pollinators such as butterflies and bees to feed on nectar and pollen. The flowers are in turn pollinated, thus promoting the production of vegetables and fruits.

Here’s some advice on how to invite pollinators to the vegetable garden:

  • Grown nectar-producing plants in your garden or along the edges.
  • Make sure you have a diversity of plants that will bloom at different times during the season.
  • Integrate, as much as possible, native species into your layout, because their blossoms are generally rich in nectar and pollen.
  • Avoid double- and triple-flower ornamental varieties. Their nectar and pollen are often produced in lesser quantities, or are less accessible to pollinators.
  • Plant some flowers in pots if you’re growing vegetables on your patio or balcony,.
  • Allow some herbs to come into flower.

Here are some annuals and perennials that are easily integrated into or around a kitchen garden to attract pollinating insects or butterflies:

Common name Latin name Québec
Perennial (P)
annual (A)
in pot
Common yarrow Achillea millefolium   P  
Blue giant hyssop Agastache foeniculum   P
Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima   A
Red columbine Aquilegia canadensis P
New England aster Symphyotrichum novae-angliae P  
Common borage Borago officinalis   A
Nasturtium Tropaeolum cvs.   A
Large-flowered tickseed Coreopsis grandiflora   P  
Common cosmos ou Garden cosmos Cosmos bipinnatus   A  
Eastern purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea   P  
Common heliotrope Heliotropium arborescens   A
Dense blazing-star and
Meadow blazing-star
Liatris spicata et
Liatris ligulistylis
Wild bergamot Monarda fistulosa P  
Showy stonecrop Hylotelephium spectabile   P
Star cluster Pentas lanceolata   A
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta   P
Sage Salvia farinacea,
S. coccinea,
S. elegans
Golden marigold Tagetes tenuifolia   A
Seaside goldenrod Solidago sempervirens P
Common zinnia Zinnia elegans   A

Note: Since it’s difficult to keep a perennial over the winter in a container, it’s generally grown as an annual.

Similarly, a number of herbs – dill, chives, coriander, fennel, lavender, lemon balm, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme – attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Some of them do well in pots. And some also serve as host plants for butterflies. But they have to be allowed to flower, and you have to put up with the presence of caterpillars!

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