Step 1: Plant your garden

It’s time to plant your I-Pollinate garden! By using a combination of annual ornamental flowers and milkweeds, you’ll create the perfect test site to contribute to research on the best annual plants for pollinators, as well as provide food for monarch butterfly larvae and track their survival.

We’re doing something a little different in 2021 as compared to previous years of I-Pollinate research. Our goal is to compare plants that fall within two categories: “Best-Selling” and “Pollinator-Friendly” plants. The idea behind this choice is to compare plants that are very common in gardens (best-sellers) and plants that are often touted as providing resources for pollinators (pollinator-friendly). Once you complete the online training module (coming soon!), you will receive an email with a list of plants you can choose from to establish your garden. Upon receiving your assigned garden type and list of appropriate plants, follow the steps below to establish your research garden!

  • Your bed should include a milkweed species (Asclepias incarnata) and your choice of six additional annual species from the list sent to you by the I-Pollinate team after you complete your training.
  • When purchasing annuals, select annuals of the color stated in your garden assignment. Flower color does influence pollinator visitation, so keeping the color constant across beds will help decrease the variation between I-Pollinate gardens.
  • Using a ~4ft by 6ft design, evenly place between 3 to 5 plants of each annual species and 4 milkweed plants within the bed.
  • Plant each species next to one another either in a cluster or a row within the bed.
  • Try to place milkweed plants on the periphery of the bed in order to make searching for monarch eggs and caterpillars easier.
  • Please do not put mulch in the bed or spray the flowers with pesticides, as this may influence pollinator visitation.

Below is an example of a potential bed layout, with color denoting annual species, circles representing plants, and M’s signifying milkweeds.



M- Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)