Factors Causing Pollen Variations

Pollination occurs when pollen is moved from the male part of a plant to a female part of a plant. In most cases this process is performed by animals and insects called pollinators. Bees in particular are an important pollinator for many garden plants. Doing what you can to create an environment hospitable to pollinators is important to your garden's success. Variations in pollination during a season impacts a plant's ability to produce seed.

Habitat

Pollinators, including bees, need habitat close to gardens and farmland in order to nest and find protection from the weather. Urban gardeners need to pay special attention to creating habitat that will attract pollinators. The ideal habitat includes plants with staggered flowering times. This allows bees and other pollinators to eat year-round. Insects also need places to nest, such as trees, windbreak hedges and dirt areas where they can burrow. If pollinators cannot find suitable habitat near a garden, they will move on to a place where they will be better protected, leaving our plants without adequate pollination.

Weather

Many insects become active in warmer weather. If the spring or fall in a given season is particularly cold, insect pollinators may be late in becoming active or cease their pollinating activities early. This can impact the pollination levels of early spring or late fall plantings. Obviously you cannot control the weather, but it is good to be aware of its potential impact on your plants.

Pesticide Use

If you must use pesticides or herbicides in your garden do so sparingly and read ingredient labels carefully. Many insects are adversely impacted by pesticide spraying. If the application doesn't kill them, it can certainly make your garden less attractive to them. Broad-spectrum pesticides and herbicides can also kill many of the wildflower or weed flower blooms insects rely on as a source of food. Do not apply pesticides to plants that are flowering as that is the time when pollinators will be at their most active.

Diversity

The key to maintaining proper pollination levels in your garden is to create a diverse landscape. Plant flowers with varying bloom times to keep pollinators attracted to your garden throughout the year. Include trees, shrubbery and other ornamental, woody perennials in your landscape to provide a place for insects to nest. Avoid monocropping--planting only one crop variety--and broad-spectrum pesticide applications. The more choice available for pollinators the more likely they will be to stay in your garden.

Keywords: pollinators, pollination levels, attracting pollinators

About this Author

Erika Sanders has been writing since 1997. She teaches writing at the Washington State Reformatory and edits the monthly newsletter for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment, a national nonprofit organization. She received her Master of Fine Arts in fiction from the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston.