Create Habitat to Encourage Biodiversity 

Create Habitat to Encourage Biodiversity 

Lotusland nurtures the garden as a biodiverse ecological system. The plants in our Insectary Garden and perimeter insectaries, as well as many other plants in our collection, attract insects, birds and other wildlife — kick-starting robust ecology that benefits garden health. Plants that provide pollen and nectar draw in predatory insects (those that feed on other insects, including pests), as well as pollinator species, including butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds.  These organisms are the base of the food chain – their presence brings in birds, reptiles, and mammals. A diverse abundance of predators and prey keeps populations in balance, eliminating the need for insecticides.  

When selecting plants for your garden, try to plant with at least 1/3 plants native to your area, both annuals and perennials, to provide the types of pollen and nectar that native insects have evolved to survive on; 1/3 popular exotic plants that attract insects; and 1/3 favorite exotic plants regardless of their habitat potential, as the other two-thirds will provide enough habitat. This plan provides an ideal minimum amount of habitat while still leaving space for your favorite ornamentals –  if you’d like to go 100% native, there’s no harm in that.  Specific plant recommendations will depend on your location. See Lotusland’s Favorite Insectary Plants for the Santa Barbara Region (link), UC Davis’s Bee Haven, and UC Berkeley’s Best Bee Plants for California for suggestions. 

To create habitat for desirable insects, as well as for birds, spiders, and other beneficial critters, consider the following factors:  

  • Flower size. Flower size limits what creatures can access its pollen and nectar. Generally, insects are attracted to small-flowered plants from which their small mouths can easily obtain pollen and nectar. 
  • Flower structure. Many insects are attracted to plants which have a composite floral structure composed of many small flowers. A diversity of floral structures provides resources to insects of different shapes and sizes.  
  • Flower color. Insects are attracted to blue and ultraviolet coloration. Hummingbirds like red flowers. 
  • Blooming times. Select plants that have staggered blooming times, so that pollen and nectar are available throughout the year. 
  • Groupings of multiples of the same plant.  To provide adequate foraging ground for insects, plant multiples of the same plant. Avoid small, single specimens where insects will have a hard time finding the flowers.  
  • A mixture of annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees.  A mixture of plant types will provide a variety of heights and habitat structures. For example, height is important for spiders and bird nesting sites. 
  • A mixture of natives and non-natives. To attract insects, native plants are the best choice. There are also a good number of non-native ornamental plants that provide ideal pollen and nectar.  

Create Habitat to Encourage Biodiversity Resources 
UC Berkeley Best Bee Plants for California
UC Davis Bee Haven

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Aloe Lutescens