How to Make a Pollinator Garden
Hosted by the New River Chapter of Virginia Native Plant Society
Pollinator gardens are one way to add native plants to your landscape and help restore some of the habitat loss that is driving extinctions of native wildlife. Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife, promote biodiversity, and require fewer resources because they are adapted to the climate and soil conditions where they naturally occur. They are also a calming influence in our busy lives and are aesthetically pleasing. Pollinators are needed to produce 35% of our food crops so they are very important too.
The Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS), founded in 1982 as the Virginia Wildflower Preservation Society, is a nonprofit organization of individuals who share an interest in Virginia’s native plants and habitats.
The society and its chapters seek to further the appreciation and conservation of this priceless heritage.
We are an organization that strives to have a positive impact on the future of the Commonwealth of Virginia. VNPS supports a variety of programs:
- The Wildflower of the Year spotlights a native plant and its habitat with a colorful and informative brochure.
- The Native Plant Site Registry of natural ecosystems is designed to recognize natural areas in Virginia that contain exemplary plant communities.
- Spring Wildflower Celebration coordinates events such as field trips, plant sales, and other programs.
- The Invasive Alien Plant Program seeks to educate individuals and control invasive species in partnership with Virginia’s Division of Natural Heritage.
Volunteers carry out the work of the society with the support of membership dues and contributions. To further its goals, VNPS cooperates in statewide and chapter programs with government agencies, developers, horticulturists, and other conservation groups that share our interests. Members occasionally receive legislative alerts and are encouraged to communicate with their elected representatives.
Our website offers information about society events, our mission and conservation statement, our programs, our chapters, and links to related organizations. Publications, such as brochures, checklists, nursery source information, and invasive plant lists, can be found on the website or requested from our office.
In everything it does, the Virginia Native Plant Society emphasizes respect for the natural environment.
The New River chapter of the VNPS covers the New River Valley counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski, and the independent city of Radford as well as the counties of Bland, Carroll, and Wythe. We meet once a month between September and April and have speakers talk about various topics on native plants. We also have various hikes, events, and volunteer with several projects. We hold an annual native plant sale in September which helps to fund grants to start pollinator gardens with local students.
During the pandemic, we meet via Zoom, and the projects we work on are socially distanced according to the current health guidelines. Our website is available at vnps.org/newriver/ where you will find our newsletters and current events. If you would like to join, visit the state website at vnps.org and fill out the application. If you do not want to join, but would still like to be aware of what we are doing, you may join our Google-groups list-serve by contacting our president, Brenda Graff, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Doug Tallamy has written a new book this year titled “Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.” His last book, “Bringing Nature Home,” was a best seller, and this one will be too.
Dr. Tallamy has been a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware for over 40 years and knows his field. This time, he has written detailed guidelines for getting started with native plants in your own backyard and has given solid reasons why you and your neighbors should do so now.
To see a book review, please visit the Virginia Native Plant Society's website at: vnps.org/book- review-natures-best-hope-by-doug-tallamy/
- The Monarch Butterfly: kidzone.ws/animals/monarch_butterfly.htm
- "Touch a Butterfly: Wildlife Gardening with Kids" by April Pulley Sayre, book first published in 2013.
- 21 Tips for Starting (or Improving) your School Butterfly Garden: monarchbutterflygarden.net/school-butterfly-garden-checklist-teachers/
- Children's Butterfly Site at: kidsbutterfly.org
Searchable Databases for Choosing Plants:
- Audubon's native plants database: audubon.org/native-plants
- Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Native Plant Finder: dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/native-plants-finder
- Chesapeake Bay Native Plant Center: nativeplantcenter.net
- Piedmont Native Plants database: albemarle.org/nativeplants/
- Digital Atlas of the Flora of Virginia: vaplantatlas.org
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: wildflower.org/plants/
- U.S. Department of Agriculture plant database: plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/java
- Virginia Native Plant Society - vnps.org Has a section on “Growing natives” which includes Regional Plant guides for Virginia, a list of local plant nurseries and an interactive plant finder
- Virginia state arboretum - blandy.virginia.edu/arboretum
- They have several lists of Virginia natives for attracting birds and butterflies at www.virginia.edu/blandy/blandy_web/arboretum/virginia_natives_for_birds.pdf
- Audubon - www.audubon.org/plantsforbirds
- One of their articles is titled “Ten plants for a bird friendly yard” at www.audubon.org/news/10-plants-bird-friendly-yard
- The Virginia Cooperative Extension Office has a brochure titled “For the Birds, Butterflies & Hummingbirds: Creating Inviting Habitats” at https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/HORT/HORT-59/HORT-59-PDF.pdf among many others.
- Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries – One of their many brochures is titled “Beyond the Bird Feeder – Attract and Support Birds with Native Plants” at dwr.virginia.gov/blog/beyond-the-bird-feeder-attract-and-support-birds-with-native-plants/
- Monarch Waystation – You can create a monarch butterfly habitat to help conserve their populations. For details go to: monarchwatch.org/waystations/
- National Wildlife Federation Certified Wildlife Habitats - Anyone can create a welcoming haven for local wildlife. For more information go to: www.nwf.org/Garden-for-Wildlife/Certify
- Xerces Society – Their goal is to protect pollinators. They have lots of information in their website at: xerces.org including lists of pollinator friendly plants and how to grow milkweeds for the monarch.
Some are available online. Others may be seen at your local public library under the heading “gardening to attract wildlife” or you can visit your local book store.
- An online book titled “Native alternatives to invasive plants” at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wp-content/uploads/native-alternatives-to-invasive-plants.pdf
- An online book titled “Native plants for the Small Yard” at lgnc.org/pdfdocs/brandes_book.pdf
- Attracting Native Pollinators by the Xerces Society, 2011.
- Bringing Nature Home: How you can sustain wildlife with native plants by Douglas W. Tallamy, 2009, updated and expanded. His newest book published this year is titled “Natures Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard” and tells you how you can help nature by planting native plants in your own yard to help restore the wildlife and ourselves.
- Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and identify pollinators and beneficial insects with Native Plants by Heather Holm, 2014. This comprehensive, essential book profiles over 65 perennial native plant species of the Midwest, Great Lakes region, Northeast and southern Canada plus the pollinators, beneficial insects and flower visitors the plants attract.
- Virginia Dept of Game and Inland Fisheries (VGIF) has the “Schoolyard habitat program” which is at www.dgif.virginia.gov/habitat/schools/
- VGIF also lists various on-line resources at the “Habitat for wildlife” at www.dgif.virginia.gov/habitat/
- “21 tips for starting (or improving) your school butterfly garden” at monarchbutterflygarden.net/school-butterfly-garden-checklist-teachers/
- “Butterfly plants for school gardens” at butterflygardening.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/butterfly- plants-for-school-gardens/
- “Less Expensive Sources of Plant Material, Amendments and Tools” at extension.uga.edu/publications/detail.cfm?number=C1027-6
- How to Start a Monarch Butterfly Garden that Brings Home the Butterflies…and Caterpillars at monarchbutterflygarden.net/how-to-start-monarch-butterfly-garden/
- Butterfly Garden Book for Monarchs- Instant Download at monarchbutterflygarden.net/bring-home-the-butterflies-ebook/
- Ten Commandments of Butterfly Gardening at tomterrific1.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/butterfly-gardening.pdf
- An organization called Pollinator Partnership has lots of ideas at www.pollinator.org/index.html
- Butterfly gardening teaching school at www.butterflyschool.org/teacher/teachgarden.html
- Pollinator Garden Campaign by Green Schools Alliance at www.greenschoolsalliance.org/program/campaigns/pollinator
- Why Every School should plant a pollinator garden at kidsgardening.org/why-every-school- should-plant-a-pollinator-garden/
- Pollinators: Why they are important and how schools can help at www.plt.org/educator-tips/pollinators-how-schools-can-help/
- Resources at Million Pollinator Gardens at millionpollinatorgardens.org/resources/
The Virginia Native Plant Society (VNPS), founded in 1982 as the Virginia Wildflower Preservation Society, is a nonprofit organization of individuals who share an interest in Virginia’s native plants and habitats. The society and its chapters seek to further the appreciation and conservation of this priceless heritage.