Tips for supporting pollinators year-round

A carpenter bee on a Celosia flower.

If you’re like me and so much of your life revolves around gardening, you tend to take note of what’s growing in other people’s flower beds. This summer, I noticed beebalm. Lots of it. 

A relative of mint, beebalm (Monarda spp.) grows in tall, lush clumps with flowers that bloom in spiky crowns of pink, purple and red. Four species are native to New England, and with garden centers carrying cultivars like “Grape Gumball” and “Raspberry Wine,” beebalm has become an easy-to-find, easy-to-grow summer bloom. But something else drives this perennial’s recent surge in popularity — pollinators love it.

Pollinators like bees, wasps, flies, butterflies and hummingbirds play an essential role in our ecosystems. While sipping nectar from flowers, these animals become dusted with grains of pollen that they transport to the next flower as they forage. Pollen from one flower is dropped onto the reproductive parts of another, and with this, our world keeps turning. One out of every three bites of food we eat is made possible by a pollinator.

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