Garden Secrets episode 4 – Pollinator Power: Smithsonian’s gardening specialists help home gardeners like you create pollinator-friendly habitats. How can you turn your backyard into an urban oasis for pollinators?
If you think managing your garden is hard, try handling three thousand floral species in one tiny area. Join the horticulture experts of the Smithsonian Gardens as they design everything from tight, formal displays to English cottage gardens, and learn how their design secrets can make your own garden come to life.
Meet the experts who make the Smithsonian Gardens a stunning living museum year-round. See how our horticulturists work tirelessly to overcome urban conditions and freezing temperatures. Learn how all gardeners, from amateur to seasoned, can use their secrets to make their own gardens grow.
Garden Secrets episode 4 – Pollinator Power
A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains.
Insect pollinators include bees, (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees); pollen wasps (Masarinae); ants; flies including bee flies, hoverflies, blowflies and mosquitoes; lepidopterans, both butterflies and moths; and flower beetles. Vertebrates, mainly bats and birds, but also some non-bat mammals (monkeys, lemurs, possums, rodents) and some lizards pollinate certain plants. Among the pollinating birds are hummingbirds, honeyeaters and sunbirds with long beaks; they pollinate a number of deep-throated flowers. Humans may also carry out artificial pollination. A pollinator is different from a pollenizer, a plant that is a source of pollen for the pollination process.
Plants fall into pollination syndromes that reflect the type of pollinator being attracted. These are characteristics such as: overall flower size, the depth and width of the corolla, the color (including patterns called nectar guides that are visible only in ultraviolet light), the scent, amount of nectar, composition of nectar, etc. For example, birds visit red flowers with long, narrow tubes and much nectar, but are not as strongly attracted to wide flowers with little nectar and copious pollen, which are more attractive to beetles. When these characteristics are experimentally modified (altering colour, size, orientation), pollinator visitation may decline.