Habitat & Conservation  |  05/12/2023

Plants for Pollinators


Good pollinator habitat is good upland bird habitat

By Charlie Holtz

Pollinator plants and insects are crucial to our environment on many levels. Not only do pollinators support the global food production chain, but they provide food sources for our favorite birds and insects while capturing carbon, purifying water and holding soil in place. Planting pollinator habitat at all scales help support this crucial ecological cycle. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever recognizes that good pollinator habitat is good upland bird habitat, which drives our support of pollinator conservation. 

Diverse, native wildflower habitat attracts insects, a crucial food source for upland birds — particularly for broods that need high protein insects to gain the weight needed to survive into adolescence and adulthood. The decline of many pollinator insects, particularly the monarch butterfly, add to the importance of planting pollinator habitat.  

Planting a diversity of native wildflowers that bloom throughout the growing season, including milkweed species, provides excellent pollinator habitat for insects. An important pillar for the life cycle of birds, flying and crawling insects are attracted to flowering plants which pass along reproductive cells through pollen while also providing food for birds.  

One way to create or enhance pollinator habitat is by planting live plants into gardens, lawns or larger habitat projects. Small pollinator plant kits are great ways to get started on small projects. Native pollinator plants are available through Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Habitat Store. Selecting multiple species that bloom throughout the growing season will produce excellent pollinator habitat. Since the monarch butterfly only lays eggs on milkweeds, planting at least 6 milkweed plants per small plot will provide food for several monarch caterpillars since one caterpillar eats about one mature milkweed plant. Tall and short grasses are also beneficial in pollinator plots, which provide cover and nesting sites for pollinator insects.  

Site preparation is key for any planting or seeding: Don’t skip this important step. Make sure weeds are reduced, otherwise they will compete for water, nutrients, space and light … all critical for your plants to establish. Once you are ready to plant, dig holes a foot or more apart that are wider and as deep, or slightly deeper, than the plants root system. Use the soil you dug to fill the hole and start watering and make provisions to water until plant is established. Mulch, composted leave, and wood chips can be added to help keep moisture in soil around planting area. You can also create a lip with the soil or mulch to allow the water to stay long enough to filter down to the plant’s roots.   

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever works to conserve pollinator habitat through many facets of our organization. The Seed Program provides regional pollinator plant kits and state seed mixes for all regions of the United States at the PF Habitat Store. Native Pollinator Plant Kits consist of multiple species that bloom through the growing season, including milkweed, and are located on our Promotional Page. Individual milkweed and grass plant trays are also available to further enhance your pollinator plot. Our Education and Outreach Programs, such as Milkweed in the Classroom and Pollinator Habitat Outreach, help promote the importance of pollinators to future generations of conservationists.

Help promote pollinator habitat by utilizing Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever’s pollinator kits and seed mixes through our Habitat Store. And as always… Think Habitat!

Charlie Holtz is the Western Conservation Specialist with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever.