When a flower opens, or at least when it produces nectar, is often timed with when its natural pollinators are active. For example, squash flowers open very early in the day and close by the middle of the day. That is because the native pollinator for squash, pumpkins, and gourds is the squash bee which is active in the early morning hours.
Another example is the common evening primrose whose flowers open in the late afternoon and close by mid-day the following morning. Moths, especially sphinx moths, and a late flying sweat bee are thought to be the primary pollinators of this native wildflower; however, other species of bees and butterflies may visit the flowers when they are open during the day.
Members of the Datura genus, including jimsonweed and moonflower, also bloom in the late evening and are primarily moth pollinated. Angel trumpet (Datura wrightii) is our native species of jimsonweed and multiple other species are sold as landscape plants. However, all members of this genus are extremely toxic so may not be appropriate for planting in many locations.
If you are just starting your pollinator gardens, concentrate on the basics – provide at least 3 things in bloom throughout the growing season and have a variety of flower shapes, sizes, and colors. This will get you started. You can also check out some of my other Tips for Attracting Pollinators & Wildlife for information related to providing overwintering sites, caterpillar host plants, what colors and flower shapes attract different types of pollinators, etc. If you already have a pollinator garden and want to try attracting other types of pollinators, try incorporating plants that bloom at different times of the day.
This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.
Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at www.backyardecology.net.