Why you should focus on adding plants native to Michigan to your garden

Pollinators need your help

Michigan is host to 465 bee species.

DETROIT – Michigan is host to 465 bee species.

The bees are specialists, depending on what they’re pollinating, part of the divine design of Mother Nature is to help put food on the dinner table.

When it comes to birds, bees and butterflies -- what we feed them, helps feed people. When people plant gardens to attract pollinators, they often think about what’s pretty or matches their decor. They might also think about how to include native species of flowers that help the bees.

Tim Travis of Goldner Walsh Garden and Home in Pontiac doesn’t just sell plants, he knows them.

“The reason for the native plants is they tend to be much better,” Travis said. “Nectar producers.”

When people think about starting their gardens this year, plants native to Michigan should be in the mix. The key to success is diversity.

While there is a lot of focus on honey bees, and there should be, honey bees are not native to Michigan. While we need honey bees to get healthy crops, we also need to make sure that we are taking care of the native pollinators.

“Native plants provide a lot of benefits in that they are adapted to our environment,” Dr. Rufus Issacs, an entomologist at Michigan State University, said. “Giving them the food they need.”

Michigan State University has made it easy to find out what’s a native plant and what’s not. Click here to visit Michigan State University’s Michigan Pollinator Initiative page.

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About the Author:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.