The Easy Way to buy pollinator-friendly plants

There are many organizations that package mixes of pollinator-friendly seeds for “one-stop-shopping”.  I’ve always leaned toward Fedco of Maine personally as I like their organic seed-saving philosophy and think that in this day of weather extremes, it might pay off to buy shorter season plants. This short listing is not meant to be complete. It is three places that I went to. Initially, I was perplexed that each vendor had a few flowers in common, but each mix was significantly different. As you will see at the end of this note, I think I now understand the differences.

Perennial wildflowers seed mix.   Xerces Society . This is one of the organizations looking to educate us about pollinators being stressed.  http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-seed/#Northeastern.  As with their reference material, the Xerces Society offers seeds tailored to a specific region of the USA.  http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/NortheasternPollinatorSeedMix_Ernst_specsheet_Nov2014.pdf

Fedco Seeds Beneficial Flowers mix.   http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/?item=5804   In this context, the word beneficial means “attracts beneficial pollinators”.  Previously, the Fedco seed catalog steered me toward planting Comfrey in with apple trees.  The more I read about Comfrey as a medicinal herb as well as a green manure, the more I’m attracted to Fedco’s organic style of gardening advice.

Gurneys,  A small package of wildflower seeds . The smallest, least expensive package I could find. http://www.gurneys.com/product/native_perennial_wildflower_mix/flower-mixes

One of the things that confounded me initially was how dissimilar these lists were.  Their focus of pollinator friendly is similar but the marketing focus of each list is different based on their markets. I’m stretching a bit here  but this is how I can account for the differences.

  1. The Xerces lists are regional and a mix of the” best for the pollinators” plants.
  2. The Fedco list is targeted at their customers, organic farmers, and a “best for the crops” plants.
  3. The Gurneys list is targeted at small home gardeners and soil restoration contractors.  I’m guessing that the consumers need more “eye-appeal-ing” flowers.

From this it should be clear that the best solution is one that fits the targeted task at hand and that there are a variety of one-size-fits-all solutions.  Each of these should be of some help to pollinators.

Year ago, as a young suburban gardener, Gurney’s mix likely would have appealed to me the most.  I believe this to be the list with the most “eye-candy” for humans.

More recently, as an organic vegetable gardener, I would favor Fedco’s list. Less eye-candy and more attractive to a range of vegetable-friendly beneficial insects.

However, now that I have evolved into a keeper of all bee varieties, the Xerces mix is my go-to choice.

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