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Be a friend to pollinators -- it's mutually beneficial

Pollinator Week celebrates and supports these crucial workers

Purple coneflowers produce both pollen and nectar, making them a favorite with bees, such as this furrow bee, part of the species of sweat bees.

Purple coneflowers produce both pollen and nectar, making them a favorite with bees, such as this furrow bee, part of the species of sweat bees.

Kathy Morrison

What's your favorite pollinator?

If you said "bee," here's the perfect time to get specific. It's International Pollinator Week, through Sunday, celebrating and supporting pollinator health.

Honeybees are pollinators, of course, but they're not native to the Uniated States. California has more than 1,600 identified bee species -- all but a handful are native. Then of course there are flies, wasps, butterflies, bats, beetles, moths and birds that do the important work of pollinating plants and crops.

I'm fond of the little green sweat bees, but don't see them as often as I do the big lumbering carpenter bees that frequent my 'Hot Lips' salvia plant.

Whatever your favorite, pollinators are important to us. They provide one of every three bites of food we eat, according to the Pollinator Partnership, but they are threatened by urban growth, climate change and loss of habitat.

Here is the Partnership's guide for helping pollinators:

-- Plant a range of flowering plants, especially natives. (Pollinators need food through the seasons, so successful pollinator gardens always have something blooming.)
-- Reduce or eliminate your contribution to the use of pesticides. (Psst: Eliminate it! Pesticides too easily hurt the good bugs, too.)
-- Reach out to others -- inform and inspire! (Get the neighbors to plant for pollinators, too.)
-- Support local bees and beekeepers.
-- Conserve all of our resources. Use less and reduce your impact. (That organic waste bucket is being used, right?)
-- Support the work of groups promoting science-based practical efforts for pollinators.

For more information and inspiration, explore the resources at the UC Davis Bee Haven website, the Insect Connect website (part of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources) or the Pollinator Partnership at


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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