Nothing says summer like masses of color and bloom that come from garden annuals. The Zoo has been planting our popular and extensive annual beds now for over a decade and plants more than 15,000 annuals of over 250 varieties throughout the Zoo every year.
A constant source of nectar and pollen is essential for the health of local populations of pollinators, which include not only such favorite insects as butterflies and moths but also numerous beneficial species of bees, wasps, and flies, many of which help to control pest insects. An ample and constant supply of pollen and nectar, a diverse landscape, a nearby source of water, and a policy of either no pesticide use or a very limited and targeted use of them are key ways to create a pollinator-friendly and healthy environment.
The Plant for Pollinators Challenge is a public engagement campaign to increase pollinator habitat in the Greater Cincinnati region and beyond. From butterflies and bees to hummingbirds and moths, pollinators are critical to the health of our environment. They’re also important in our food production systems, as they pollinate one-third of the world’s crops. However, their populations are declining. People can provide beautiful, vital habitat for pollinators by adding pollinator-friendly plants to their yards and landscapes while enjoying colorful blooms and butterflies all season long. If you plant pollinators in your garden, make sure to register your garden with our Plant for Pollinators Challenge!
Some excellent annuals high in nectar and pollen include ageratum, dahlia, lantana, milkweeds, nasturtium, pentas, phlox, salvia, verbena, and single forms of zinnia, and herbs such as basil, dill, and fennel!
When the annuals achieve enough growth and when the weather and soil is just right, the Zoo plants 25,000 – 30,000 annuals into its own gardens. These plants are labeled all around the Zoo and can be seen in the summer months. Throughout the season, horticulture specialists and Master Gardeners keep records of the annuals and create a list of “Zoo’s Best Annuals” from the year. Our yearly “best” lists help local gardeners identify plants that grow to their fullest and are reliable year after year.
Here are some of our favorite annuals this year:
Plant for Pollinators Sponsored by: