Plants for pollinators
It’s not just bees who play a role in pollinating – butterflies, moths and hoverflies (which look a bit like wasps) all deserve a bit of flowery food! The key is variety. Plant up your PlantBox with plants that flower early in March or April as well as some that flower later in the summer. This gives the bees and other insects a food source all year. Also try to choose varied flower shapes, because not all pollinators have the same shaped mouthparts! The other important factor is flower structure – avoid ‘double’ flowers, where the petals cover the pollen. The simpler ‘single’ flower types are the ones to go for.
Some of our favourite pollinator-friendly plants that work really well in a living wall are:
Be bumblebee friendly
Bumblebees are important native pollinating insects that need our help! Two species of bumblebee have already been declared extinct in the UK in recent decades, and another eight are listed as priority species for conservation. A PlantBox living wall is a great way of growing a selection of plants that will help to boost your local bumblebee population and provide a range of pollen and nectar rich flowers for the bees to feed on. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust recommends a mix of early and later flowering plants to give our bumblebees a source of food for their whole annual life cycle (March-October). Try these: hellebores, lavender, borage, chives and marjoram.
You could also create a bumblebee–friendly nesting spot somewhere near your living wall so the bees have somewhere to lay eggs. To learn more about bumblebee nests visit The Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
A Wildlife Garden
We tend to think of bees, butterflies and other insects just needing the pollen and nectar from flowers. But wildlife-friendly gardening goes much further than that. Kate Bradbury’s book ‘Wildlife Gardening’ (endorsed by the RHS and Wildlife Trusts) is particularly useful, with lots of practical ideas and advice. Listen to her podcast on the Wildlife Garden here.