One of the most impactful things you can do to help migrating monarchs and other wildlife is to plant a pollinator habitat. That’s why we’re inviting you to welcome birds, bees, butterflies and other wildlife into your landscape by pledging to plant a pollinator habitat as part of our 2022 Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival.

Our goal for 2022: 1,000 habitats pledged.

Monarch butterfly on Cowpen Daisy in downtown San Antonio pollinator garden. –Photo by Brendan Gibbons

Our Pollinator Habitat Initiative started in 2018, when the Texas Butterfly Ranch launched 300for300, an effort to create 300 pollinator habitats for San Antonio’s Tricentennial birthday. We surpassed that goal with 325 habitats, then challenged the community to help us reach 500 pollinator habitats pledged by 2020. That goal, too, was exceeded.

As of this writing, our Pollinator Habitat Initiative boasts 834 gardens pledged. With your help, a goal of 1,000 habitats seems within reach by the end of this year.

The Pollinator Habitat Initiative was inspired by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) Mayor’s Monarch Pledge. The nationwide campaign, launched in 2015, invited mayors along the IH-35 migratory pollinator pathway to pledge to execute up to 24 action items that would increase pollinator habitat in their cities.

In December of 2015, San Antonio became the first city in the nation to agree to act on all 24 recommendations made by the NWF, making it the first Monarch Butterfly Champion City in the country. A citywide pollinator gardening initiative was among the action items pledged.

That sparked our initial locally grown 300for300 program, but then we expanded expanded the effort beyond the Alamo City. Now, our map boasts habitats from Texas to Canada and California to Delaware.

Pollinator Habitat map

As of this writing 830 habitats have been pledged. Will you help us get to 1,000?

For those in San Antonio who need a bit of hands-on guidance, our friends at Rainbow Gardens and Blooming with Birdie have organized several Pollinator Gardening 101 classes with accompanying garden starter kits that take place throughout October. See our Festival calendar page for details. We also have plenty of resources below.

The requirements for a pollinator habitat are not difficult to achieve.

  • At least six different native and/or well-adapted, noninvasive plants, including
  • At least two larval host plants (the plants on which butterflies lay their eggs)
  • At least two spring nectar plants (plants that bloom in the spring, providing energy/fuel)
  • At least two autumn nectar plants (plants that bloom in the fall, providing energy/fuel)
  • A diverse mix of spring, summer, and fall blooms.

The goal, of course, is to make sure that insects, birds and other wildlife have a place to rest, refuel, reproduce and raise their families. Native plant and pollinator habitats also conserve water, help reduce flooding and build soil in the ecosystem.  Check out our resources page for plant lists, useful websites and other guidance to help you get started.

Broadcast to the world your pollinator habitat’s lofty goals.

And be aware, sometimes neighbors and HOAs mistake a pollinator habitat for a lazy gardener.

For example, in early 2019, Don Kirchhoff of San Antonio received a letter from the Forest at Stone Oak HOA asking him to mow the “weeds” in his front yard. It cited him and his wife, Joyce Peterson, with a breach of the HOA’s declaration of covenants, conditions, and restrictions, the legal guidelines that govern most communities with HOAs.

The violating “grass, weeds and vegetation” were in fact, bluebonnets–the state wildflower of Texas–that were setting blooms.

The couple was accused of violating a regulation stating that “grass, weeds, and vegetation on each Lot shall be kept mowed at regular intervals.” Kirchoff defended his pollinator habitat with letters and data, ultimately “winning” the right to landscape with native plants.

“I think we educated them a bit,” said Kirchoff, the founder and a past president of the San Antonio chapter of the Native Prairies Association of Texas,

That said, having a sign that communicates the intentionality of your landscape can help avoid such dramas. It can also inspire others and educate the community, including  those who think a pristine lawn is the only option. Pollinator habitat signs are available in our shop.

It’s never too late to get on the map and pledge to plant a pollinator garden. And no, there’s no pollinator police that come and check your progress. We trust that if you take a moment to pledge, you will follow through and create a welcoming environment for the wildlife that keeps our ecosystems intact.

Join us October 8 at Brackenridge Park in San Antonio. Native plant and tree adoption events will be taking place, along with many other activities.

Do it now and help us reach 1,000 habitats in 2022. Here’s the link.

TOP PHOTO: Pollinators welcome: goldenrod, purple aster, cowpen daisies, lantantas and other late season blooms create a pollinator pitstop in downtown San Antonio. Photo by Monika Maeckle

Related posts:

Like what you’re reading? Don’t miss a single post from the Texas Butterfly Ranch. Sign up for email delivery below, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, or Instagram.