Green Our Planet's Pollinator Garden Program
Southern Nevada used to be a pollinator haven with native plants cascading across the desert. Now, much of that area has been paved over and pollinators, like the monarch butterfly, struggle to find enough food. That's why Green Our Planet started the pollinator garden program back in 2017. Since then, we've installed approximately 45 pollinator gardens at schools across southern Nevada (see map).
Our pollinator gardens contain many native flowering plants. The plants use their flowers to attract pollinators like butterflies, flies, bees and hummingbirds. Most of these pollinators visit the plants to drink sugary nectar. While the pollinators drink, the plant’s pollen rubs off onto their bodies. Then, when a pollinator flies to another plant of the same species, the pollen falls off and fertilizes the embryos waiting within the flower.
These animals are accidental pollinators— they visit only for the nectar yet end up helping plants reproduce. The pollinators help the plants and the plants help the pollinators. That is called "symbiosis" and students can witness this multi-millions-of-years-old process right on their school yards.
A typical pollinator garden contains at least 10 milkweed plants (which allow schools to get nationally certified as "Monarch Way Stations") and six or more other species of native flowering plants. By installing these gardens on school grounds, students learn about habitat restoration, the importance of pollinators, and also about the Monarch Butterfly migration, which is the most miraculous insect migration on the planet. Las Vegas just happens to be on the flyway of Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains, which winter in California and need food (milkweed and other plants) for their journey. Essentially, by creating pollinator gardens, students are creating tiny oases where the Monarchs (and other pollinators) can rest, feed, and reproduce.
What's in a Pollinator Garden?
Stan Shebs [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
Did you know that...
- 75% of the world’s flowering plants and about 35% of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce?
- Many pollinators, like monarch butterflies and bee species, are decreasing in population due to pesticides and habitat loss?
- You can help these pollinators increase their numbers by planting native plants?
- Monarch butterflies west of the Rocky Mountains spend the winter in California and monarchs east of the Rockies spend their winter in Mexico?
- Monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed plants?