Planting a Pollinator Victory Garden 2.0.

Hello, again!

When planting flowers in my landscape, I tend to go with some sort of a color scheme. Always the brighter the better. I’ve done yellow and red combinations in the past, orange as well. This year my front flower bed is mostly yellow. But one thing I also like to do is plant a large variety of plants. Annuals are great, and for the most part, they are plants that bloom soon after planting until our killing frost around the first part of November. Perennials have a part in my garden as well. My hostas have been great performers in the shade part of the back yard year after year. The occasional hail can mess with them, but they come out of it pretty well.

We are seeing a resurgence in the planting of various types of gardens. It reminds me of WWI and WWII with Victory Gardens where citizens were planting every space they could to grow food. There was a need to supplement the national food supply as well as build morale. People today are not only planting to grow their own vegetables, but also as a way to help increase pollinators, which play a vital role in our ecosystem and are necessary for pollination of fruits and vegetables. This week, June 17-23, is National Pollinator Week!

Here are a few things I think about when deciding what to plant. It's not only for a succession of blooms throughout the growing season. I try to select a diverse range of flower shapes, sizes and colors to attract a wide range of pollinators - bees, birds, butterflies and more. I like to plant in masses. Even 3-5 square feet works to attract pollinators.

Once I've picked these out, I add native plants to the mix. You know my love for the Flint Hills. I call it the most scenic spot on earth. Not only are the geological formations amazing in the area, but the plants are the real attraction for me. Our Kansas natives are tough plants. They thrive on drought, so don’t over water them. They play an important role as a food source for beneficial insect larvae. My favorite of the bunch is Asclepias tuberosa - Butterfly Milkweed. Here's how these plants are pollinated, according to The Pocket Guide to the Flint Hills:

Butterflies of all kinds perch on the flowers to sip nectar. The milkweed flower is highly specialized and unique. A vertical slit in the flower allows an insect’s foot to slip inside. When the insect pulls its foot loose, it dislodges a saddlebag-like structure with two pollen sacs attached. The pollen, still attached to the insect’s leg, is carried to the next plant and deposited when one of the pollen sacs slips inside the flower crevice.

Butterfly milkweed grows 18-24” tall with yellow, orange or red-orange flowers in clustered in showy heads. If I'm the one to help you in the perennial department, I'll insist you take one home!

There are so many options for planting a Pollinator Victory Garden 2.0. Many of our plants are labeled with desired location and what pollinators they will attract. Tomorrow is the last day of our Pollinator Palooza Sale, but we'll continue be stocked throughout the summer with beautiful plants to attract pollinators to your garden.

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Centers

P.S. At this writing, I've crossed the border into Montana on the Tour Divide. We're racing to raise funds for HumanKind and those in our community who are facing homelessness. If you donate at our registers in June, we'll double your donation. Follow me at