top of page

Pollinator Gardens & The Monarch Project:

Bringing Back the (Humming) Birds,The Bees, and The Monarchs

How to Create a Pollinator Garden

Create a flower-filled pollinator garden thriving with life! You CAN find drought-tolerant, low water-use flowering plants that will thrive in Sonoma County and attract and feed butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Consider replacing or downsizing your lawn with pollinator-friendly plantings.

Here's how to create your own Pollinator Garden at home.

First Steps


  • Use products certified by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).

  • Use organic methods to control pests in your garden rather than chemical pesticides. (RoundUp, etc.) This is huge! Pesticides damage pollinator nervous systems and are not good for little humans, big humans and pets to be exposed to either! Check the labels on your pesticides to see if they contain "neonicatinoids" or "glyophosate." If they do, treat them as hazardous materials and dispose of them.

  • To find out whether an insecticide you see on the shelf of your hardware, pest control supply or garden center is a neonicotinoid, look on the list of active ingredients. These chemicals are neonicotinoids: 
    Acetamiprid, Clothianidin, Dinotefuran, Imidacloprid, Nitenpyram, Thiocloprid, Thiamethoxam.

  • Aphids and other pests chomping on your flower and veggie garden? Use soap- and oil-based natural bug-fighters like Safer products or pesticides made from Neem oil.


Pick Your Pollinator Plants

  • Select your garden spot. Most pollinator plants thrive in full sun. Plants that attract bees like a few dry, sunny, bare spots with well-drained soil. South-facing slopes are ideal.

  • Native plants are the best plant pollinators, as native plants and pollinators have evolved together to adapt to your local soil, climate and growing season. Often, non-native plants don’t provide adequate nectar for pollinators.

  • Yes, Windsor Garden Club and the Healdsburg Pollinators are encouraging all local residents to plant California native milkweed so Monarchs can lay their eggs on the plants, and larvae and caterpillars can survive by feeding on them.

    But butterflies, even Monarchs, and bees, moths and hummingbirds need many other nectar sources too! Monarchs need nectar sources when milkweed is not flowering.

  • To give pollinators a healthy supply of nectar, seed masses of zinnias, tithonia (Mexican Sunflower) and sunflowers from April 15th to May 15th. If it is later in the season, these varieties can be found as starts at many local nurseries. Make sure they have been raised orgainically and pesticide free before you buy them! 

  • If you would like to help the endangered California Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (pictured above), plant California Pipevine, a climbing vine also known as Dutchman's Pipe. Both are native to Northern California. The Hallberg Butterfly Gardens near Windsor and Healdsburg have an annual fundraising California Pipevine plant sale.

  • Bees are one of the most important pollinators. They are able to see ultraviolet colors and prefer flowers in shades of yellow, purple and blue. Bees are also attracted to plants with a sweet fragrance.

  • Other water-thrifty California flowers bees, butterflies and hummingbirds all feed on and love: pentstemmonsalvias (sages), Coyote Mint, and Sticky Monkey Flower.

  • Water-thrifty non-native plants that pollinators love include lantana, marigolds, Mexican Sage, and Blue Sage. and rockrose.

  • Give your pollinators a break on extremely hot days. Set out some water! Place a shallow bowl, terra cotta pot saucer, or other shallow container and fill with water for bees and butterflies to sip. Place rocks and small branches or other items in the container to give pollinators a place to land while drinking. Read more about making bee watering stations here.

  • Remember, moths are pollinators too! Use amber lights for porches and outdoors to prevent moths becoming confused and exhausted fluttering around lights when they could be feeding and reproducing.


Plant in sync with the seasons   

  • Spring and early summer are the best times to put in native milkweed starts. The starts will need watering in their first season, but in a normal rain year they should re-seed and establish themselves without much water.

  • Fall and Early Winter are the times for lawn conversion, preferrably by sheet mulching your turf. It's also the best time for planting native perennials.

  • Turbocharge your pollinator habitat garden by planting California natives. Most caterpillars have co-evolved for thousands of years to digest specific native plants, and pollinators have been shown to prefer native nectar sources given the choice.

What you will get from all of this?

• More happiness. Nature right outside your door is good for kids and adults.

• A more resilient community to live in. We all depend on pollinators for food and a thriving ecosystem and up to now they have been doing a great job that we have taken for granted.


We need to help them now to help us!


What is a
Pollinator Garden?


In simple terms, a pollinator garden is one that attracts bees, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds or other beneficial creatures that transfer pollen from flower to flower, or in some cases, within flowers.  


Pollinator gardens support and maintain pollinators by supplying food in the form of pollen and nectar that will ensure that these important animals stay in the area to keep pollinating our crops for continued fruit and vegetable production.

Planting a pollinator garden is more important than you may realize.

Even a small garden can make a huge difference as pollinators have suffered greatly from loss of habitat, misuse of chemicals and spread of invasive plant and animal species. Many pollinators have disappeared and others are endangered.

Important Pollinator Facts

  • Without pollinators, the human race and all of Earth's terrestrial ecosystems would not survive.

  • Pollinating animals include bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, hummingbirds, and bats.

  • Over 80 percent of the world's flowering plants require a pollinator to reproduce.

  • Of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, i.e., those that produce all our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals.  

  • All of the tree fruit dependent on animal pollinators.

  • In most cases, the plant offers food (nectar and/or pollen) in exchange for help spreading its genetic information.

  • Bees and butterflies are important pollinating insects.  


Garden Resources

Native milkweed starts from
Windsor Garden Club 

Town of Windsor Water Efficient Landscape rebates

Sonoma-Marin Water Wise Plant List

Helpful garden websites
California Native Plant Society

Las Pilitas Nursery
California Flora Nursery

Prickett's Nursery 

Windsor Garden Club

Recommended Books

“Natures Best Hope”

by Doug Tallamy  

“California Native Plants for the Garden” by Bornstein

blue pentstemmon.jpg
Western Tiger Swallowtail.jpg
California Pipevine -Dutchmans Pipe.jpg
Pipevine swallowtail.jpg
bottom of page