Native Plants and Beneficial Insects

A Garden Full of Biodiversity will Support Beneficial Insects, Pollinators, Birds, other Wildlife an

From Night of the Round Tables - Garden Writers Symposium August 8, 2014

| Published 07/28/2014

For the first time ever the Garden Writers National Symposium will be hosting "The Nights of the Round Table". This is an opportunely to talk to experts about a wide range of gardening subjects face to face, in small groups. I have published the accompanying handout for my talk here for reference before and after the event.

Peggy Anne Montgomery

"The Nights of the Round Table"

GWA Creates a New Way for Garden Communicators to Connect!

A Garden Full of Biodiversity will Support Beneficial Insects, Pollinators, Birds, other Wildlife and You!

Native Plants and Beneficial Insects

A Garden Full of Biodiversity will Support Beneficial Insects, Pollinators, Birds, other Wildlife and You!

Garden Writers Symposium August 8, 2014

Night of the Round Tables

Presented by Peggy Anne Montgomery

American Beauties Native Plants®


1. What is Native?

At American Beauties we define natives as straight species and their cultivars, with cultivars being selections of straight species that have not been hybridized with other species. Confused? Let’s talk.

 2. Why Pollinators and Other Beneficial Insects Need You

“The tripling of herbicide use since the introduction of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans has eliminated milkweed and other native species and that’s caused monarch butterfly populations to crash.” - University of Kansas Ecologist, Orley Taylor

 The leading cause of species decline is habitat loss. Only 5-15% of land in the U.S. is protected and much of that land has multiple use clauses and is fragmented. Two million acres, an area the size of Yellowstone National Park, are lost to development each year. That is on par with deforestation in the Amazon. - The Nature Conservancy

Today it is more important than ever to create way stations and corridors for pollinators and other beneficial wildlife in our suburban landscapes. Their numbers are all decreasing and we can help appreciably by putting away the chemicals and planting things that beneficial wildlife need to survive. 

If you plant it, they will come.

3. Special Relationships Between Beneficial Insects and Plants

Fully 90% of plant-eating insects are considered specialists. That means native insects have evolved to eat/complete their development with certain native plants. They do not have a long enough history with European or Asian plants to use them as host plants successfully.

*The vast lawns of suburbia support very little biodiversity – that’s why your yard and your reader’s yards are so important.

4. How to Attract Beneficial Insects

Planting pollen and nectar plants, and providing protection for these beneficial insects, is the best way to create a healthy garden and a way to further increase the ecological diversity of your yard. Plant diversity is key. Create a layered garden with native trees, evergreens, shrubs and herbaceous plants. Aim for a wide variety of plants that will offer pollen and nectar all season long. Incorporate plants that provide seeds and berries to nourish birds and other wildlife in fall and winter. Don’t cut back your perennials. Many insects will spend the winter inside the hollow stems. Leave the leaf litter in place under trees and shrubs. Wildlife will find cover and food there. Build a pile of rocks or logs in a quiet spot in your garden for shelter and cover. Think about host plants like milkweed, that are necessary for the larval stage of butterflies and other insects. Provide a source of water.

* The use of pesticides is a major threat to beneficial insects and other wildlife – try hard not to use them.  

5. Meet the Team

Lady beetles prey on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. The adults will eat as many as 50 aphids per day.

Ground beetles are nocturnal hunters, rooting among leaf litter for insect eggs and larvae.

Lacewings are fiercely predacious in their larval stage. If you decide to introduce beneficial insects to your garden, lacewings are the most effective predators you can buy.

Hover flies visit flowers in search of pollen and nectar, and they lay their eggs near aphids or other soft-bodied insects. The eggs hatch into hungry larvae that eat up to 60 aphids per day.

Pirate bugs, ambush bugs and assassin bugs These bugs prey on many insects, including tomato hornworms, thrips, spider mites, many insects' eggs, leafhopper nymphs, corn earworms and other small caterpillars

Parasitic wasps
 comprise hundreds of species of wasps, including many that are so tiny you can barely see them. These mini-wasps often attack the eggs of pests, and are one of the most important insect groups that provide control of garden pests.

Spiders: All spiders feed on insects and are very important in preventing pest outbreaks.

*All insects play an important part in the food web and in a healthy garden will keep each other in check.

6. For the Birds

No bugs = No Baby Birds It’s really that simple. Almost all birds, 96% of terrestrial birds in North America need to feed insects to their young – thousands of them! They are superstars when it comes to pest control.

Creating a garden full of diversity benefits birds as well as insects. They also need shelter, food, a water source and a place to raise their young. Think about native plants that are not only beautiful but provide, fruit, nuts and berries.

Super Size it!

These common native plants provide birds with much needed fat to make it through the winter months.

Northern bayberry (Morella [Myrica] pensylvanica) - 50.3%

Southern arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum) - 41.3%

Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa) - 39.9%

Northern spicebush (Lindera benzoin) - 33.2%

American burningbush (Euonymus atropurpurea) - 31.2%

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) - 23.6%

*The percents show how much fat each type of berries provides

7. Award Winning Natives – Don’t just take our word for it!

At American Beauties we have chosen the best, the toughest, most beautiful native landscape plants for you. We only sell winners. Don’t just take our word for it, these winners were chosen by horticultural professionals from coast to coast. Check out the lists of regional plant awards and you’ll see they are filled with native plants. It makes sense that plants will do well in the environments they evolved in.

* We’ve done the work for you and highlighted the award winning native plants from each of these professional institutions.

GreatPlants for the Great Plains program is a joint effort between the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and the Nebraska Nursery & Landscape Association.

Great Plant Picks is an educational program committed to building a comprehensive palette of outstanding plants for maritime Pacific Northwest gardens.

Gold Medal Plant Award is a fabulous reference listing plants that have been thoroughly tested by nursery professionals in the Mid-Atlantic.

The Cary Award winners were selected by horticulturists from across New England to draw attention to unusual and underused plants to help consumers choose plants with proven records of success.

*Find the lists at: under “Press” and in our Blog at:

8. Just For Fun!

The Bee Smart App is from the Pollinator Partnership

•1000 Pollinator Friendly Native Plants

•Customizable by pollinator type, sun, soil, flower color etc.

•Plant lists by eco-region

•Star your favorites and bring to the garden center




Each Small Contribution Can Add Up to Immense Benefits for Our Entire Ecosystem

 Together We Can Make A Difference!

 Peggy Anne Montgomery

American Beauties Native Plants®

Direct Phone – 651.208.1749




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