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by Julie Dees

The first thing that comes to mind when you mention planting a garden is “FOOD”. Even if you are only growing some herbs, ornamental flowers, or a few potted posies, you can still choose plants that are “food“. Food for the birds, bees, and butterflies, that is.

Planting gardens designed for birds and pollinating insects is not a new thing. For centuries, gardeners have known the importance and value of beneficial wildlife. They selected plants to attract and sustain these helpful little workers.

Feed the Birds, Bees, and Butterflies

Today we’ll highlight some common beauties that you, the birds, and the insects will all enjoy. This list is a small sampling of plants that will do double duty. They’ll look pretty while also feeding your new little garden friends.

Asters – Asters are part of a large family (Asteraceae) of unique, star-shaped flowers. They are as popular with the bees and the butterflies as they are with the people who plant them.

Bee Balm – Bee Balm, aka Monarda, is a member of the mint family – meaning it can be invasive and should be contained. It prefers full sun and is also a favorite of hummingbirds.

Borage – The nectar replenishes itself in a matter of minutes after a pollinator has taken a drink. This makes borage a bee magnet. A popular herb for centuries, the blue flowers are often used in drinks and salads.

Crocus – Crocus blooms are often the first food of the year for bees coming out of hibernation. They arrive in late winter to early spring. The plants are happy in pots or in the ground and are a great option for naturalizing a lawn or open area.

Dahlias – Dahlias are a lovely, tender plant that enjoy full sun and rich, moist soil. Plant lots of them as they make one of the best cut flowers as well as a generous buffet for the good bugs.

Fennel – The blooms of fennel benefit our insect friends while the seeds feed the birds. This versatile herb is also a human favorite that grows well in full sun in well-drained, moist soil.

Lavender – Depending on the variety, lavender comes in white, pink, and popular purple shades. This fragrant summer-blooming plant thrives in well-drained soil in full sun.

Roses – Roses need a hard pruning in late winter/early spring. Regular deadheading during flowering prolongs the blooming season. Rosehips are a nutritional treat for birds and people alike as they make a lovely tea.

Sunflowers – These recognizable giants of the garden are a triple threat. They provide beauty, nectar for the pollinators, and seeds for the birds. They are also one of the easiest plants to grow.

A Few Cautions

There are a lot of gardening practices that can be harmful to the very creatures we are trying to attract to our yards. Here are a few tips to help protect them:

Don’t use pesticides and herbicides. Pesticides are designed to kill bugs. Period. Even if the label states they won’t harm beneficial insects, birds, or wildlife – don’t trust it. Instead, try to garden naturally or use safer methods of deterring pests. Herbicides and fungicides can also be highly dangerous to insects and wildlife. Use caution.

Diatomaceous Earth is not a cure-all product just because it is natural. It is not a safe alternative to chemical pesticides. It IS a mechanical pesticide which means it will kill any insect it comes into contact with. It slowly dries their exoskeleton out until they die from dehydration. Don’t use it anywhere the birds, bees, or butterflies may come in contact with it.

If you’re buying started plants, be sure they weren’t grown or treated with any chemicals. Many big box or mega stores are selling potted plants that are full of possible poisons. These ingredients can kill beneficial insects and birds as well as make people sick. Read labels and ask lots of questions.

Provide a water source for your winged visitors. (While this isn’t a caution, it’s an important thing to remember.) They need something to drink after all that work pollinating your plants. A birdbath, shallow pan, or saucer filled with pebbles or marbles for them to land on is perfect. Be sure to refill it with fresh water every day.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, what do you think? Have we inspired you to add some lovely plants to your garden, just for the birds, bees, and butterflies? Do you have any favorite flowers you’d add to the list? Let us know!

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The Potted Garden: How To Save Money And Regrow These Foods

Planning a potted garden for your balcony or deck? Well consider this: there are some vegetables and herbs that will continue to grow as long as you don’t cut them completely. Lettuce, spinach, chard, kale… these grow nicely in pots and keep on giving for a long time. And here is a list of easy veggies that I re-grow because we apartment dwellers tend to forget that running off to the grocery store isn’t always the easiest thing to do.


This is a staple for quite a lot of dishes and I think it’s much cheaper to grow celery using scraps than buy more every time. Next time you buy a whole bunch of celery, cut off the bottom and place the base in a shallow dish. Add some water to the dish so that the part of the bottom is immersed. Leave the dish in sunlight until you begin to see the leaves getting thicker. Once this happens, move your growing celery stalk to some potting soil and water it regularly.


If you grow potatoes, then of course you know that you’ll always have seed to grow more. Cut off the section of the potato that has eyes on it. Choose a good section that has more than one eye and plant it four inches deep into the soil once you’ve left it out for a night to dry. Water it little by little until you see the plant start to form.


I use ginger a lot, especially during the winter months when colds and coughs are common. That’s why I prefer to grow a steady supply of it by planting a piece of the root into potting soil. You can observe new shoots sprouting a week after planting and this is usually when the root has formed. You can pull it out and save a piece to regrow your ginger.


Romaine lettuce tastes delicious and it’s one of the things I add to my salads on a daily basis. Just like with celery, I take the base and place it in a dish of water. Leave it under the sun and transplant it to a pot when the leaves begin to grow and you can see new roots appearing. You can repeat the process with cabbage and bok choy.

Garlic and Onions

Well, you can’t exactly regrow garlic and onions with scraps, but you can grow sprouts and spring onion. Simply take a garlic clove that’s beginning to sprout (green tip) and place it in a dish with water. The sprouts that it grows have a fairly mild taste compared to the root, which is much stronger, so you can use it in salads. It’s fairly simple to grow spring onion from a regular onion; just plant a few of them in a pot and you’ll begin to see new sprouts shoot up. Simply cut how much you need and leave some at the bottom so it grows back.

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