What are pollinators?
It’s in the name! Pollinators help flowers to carry pollen from the stigma to the stamen. Aiding in sexual reproduction of the plant.
Whilst some plants are self-pollinating, most have developed ways to ensure cross-pollination between its species to ensure genetic diversity which creates stronger, adaptable and flexible plants.
Note, plants have different ways to reproduce, not just sexual reproduction. Think about strawberries and their leaders they send off with little baby plants on the ends. These can take root and create more plants without the seed production. But we still need pollinators to ensure good fruit production, so we can have plenty of tasty strawberries.
Who is a pollinator?
Pollinators can be insects including beetles, flies, wasps, thrips, butterflies and of course bees, aswell as birds and mammals (bats). Wind is also used by many plants to cross-pollinate.
Relationships between pollinators and flowers
Some plants have developed very specialised approaches to attracting certain pollinators. For example certain varieties of orchids or figs have a special relationship with particular wasps and can only be pollinated by the one type.
Plant families such as grevilleas, prefer cross-pollination by nectar loving birds as they can disperse the pollen further. Lots of grevilleas have fine hairs that prevent insect pollination. Other plants have a trapping mechanism that temporarily captures the insect, coats them in pollen and then releases the insect.
Pollinator Syndrome Traits
Providing shelter and water resources
When planning our plantings, it’s also important to create balance and think about providing not only food sources (polen & nectar), but shelter and water as well.
Shelter for birds can take different forms, some need open patches of grass close to low shrubs they can quickly hide from predators in. It can include fallen trees, branches and hollows for nesting. Shelter for insects might include shade spots, decaying branches and leaf litter. Bug hotels have become very popular, but they need to be placed in a cool shady spot, near water and food sources.
However, butterflies need warmth and sun to be active, so placing rocks in the sun is a great idea. They also need to be shelter from winds. Check plants for butterfly eggs before pruning away old foliage.
Providing cool clean water is important in a garden. Make sure it’s accessible! Create shallow dishes for insects and bees, with rocks to rest on. Birds love to socialise at water sources, give them room to dip, play around & clean.
To protect biodiversity in your garden, avoid using pesticides and herbicides as these will knock out ‘good pests’ as well as those we don’t like. Building diversity and keeping plants healthy is the best was to avoid large infestations of pests.
Be careful with non-indigenous plant species as these can easily become weeds.
Avoid garden escapes with these tips:
- Think indigenous plants first! Check out your local indigenous plant nursery, Gardens for Wildlife Vic and CERES for more information.
- Keep rhizome plants such as mint in a pot to keep in contained.
- Look beyond where you are planting, are you near areas where seed can easily disperse itself, waterways or disused land such as railway lines. Are you near areas of rich indigenous biodiversity- check with your council if unsure.
- Dead head easily spread seeds before they form- have a management plan with reminders
- Urban Agriculture Urban Agriculture Month 2023 | Yarra City Council
- Food Growing Trail Self-Guided Tour – Yarra’s Circular Economy Map | Yarra City Council
- Gardens for Wildlife Yarra City Council – Biodiversity and wildlife in Yarra | Yarra City Council
- Australian Museum – Pollination – The Australian Museum
- Indigenous and Native Plants at Rushall Community Garden – Indigenous and Native Plants at Rushall Garden | RUSHALL GARDEN
- CERES – CERES Nursery & Bookstore – CERES Community Environment Park
- Victorina Indigenous Nursery Co-op – www.vinc.net.au
- Adams, George ‘Birdscaping Australian Gardens’
- Crawford, Dennis ‘Garden Pests, Disease & Good Bugs