Wildflowers are lovely to look at and can bring a smile to your face, but the sweet, colorful blossoms have numerous ecological benefits as well. Because they are native to where they bloom, wildflowers thrive better than some plants in your garden, even without fertilizer or lots of water. They can improve the health of the soil and water quality, and they provide a habitat for beneficial insects and wildlife.
Experts have seen a significant decline in honey bee colonies and other pollinators since 2006. This continual drop in numbers has raised concerns about the effect it will have on our food supply. Researchers are focusing on numerous causes, from invasive mites to pesticide exposure. One factor that we can all help remedy is inadequate forage for pollinators.
Planting wildflower seeds native to your region is a simple yet significant way to provide habitat and nutrition for bees and other pollinators, like butterflies, birds and ladybugs. The following organizations are currently giving away free wildflower seed packets, making it even easier to plant them.
Feed a Bee
Feed a Bee is an initiative of the Bayer Bee Care Program. The program has partnered with organizations and communities to help pollinators since 2015 by focusing on planting forage across the U.S.
While supplies last, you can request a free packet of native wildflower mix from the organization by filling out this form on its website. The seed mix includes wildflowers that grow well in most regions, such as partridge peas, black-eyed Susans and purple coneflowers.
Alt National Park Service
Alt National Park Service is an activist coalition made up of employees of the National Park Service, state and local parks, National Forest Service, EPA, USDA, NOAA, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as environmental scientists. The organization offers free wildlife seed packs to help restore pollinator populations. When completing this form, you can choose between black-eyed Susan or butterfly milkweed seeds.
Project Plant It
This award-winning environmental education program helps students learn about the importance of trees and the essential role of pollinators. Schools, teachers and students in areas served by Dominion Energy can sign up on this site to receive tree seedlings and/or wildflower seed packets, which will be shipped in April, before Arbor Day.