The City of Southport Beautification Committee

Native Pollinator Garden

Lowe-White Park

East Leonard Street, Southport, NC  28461

For more information or to lend a helping hand,

What is a Pollinator Garden?

Did you know…

Approximately 200,000 species of pollinators are beneficial insects such as bees, flies, beetles, wasps, and butterflies. Hummingbirds represent a small percentage of natural pollinators. Honey bees and native bees (bumble bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, mining bees, mason bees, etc.) are critical to our food supply and pollinate about one-third of the foods we enjoy.

Bees as well as other pollinators are also essential components of the habitats and ecosystems that many wild animals rely on for food and shelter. As natural areas are cleared for development, and pesticides are sprayed, pollinator habitat is destroyed or fragmented, resulting in the loss of foraging and nesting sites. This can lead to a decline in pollinator population.

One big way we can help pollinators is by planting forage habitat that provides nectar and pollen.  Our main goal is to have plants that flower throughout the growing season, from early spring-late fall, with periods of overlapping bloom periods.

Why Native Plants?

North Carolina is home to thousands of native plant species.  Over many millennia, our native wildlife – including birds – have adapted to the resources provided by the native flora.  Native plants occur naturally in an area and in a real sense, “home” for our birds.

Virtually all land birds – 96% -require insect food for their young.  Native plants support healthy populations of insects, including caterpillars, that breeding birds feed their nestlings.

Planting native plants can help restore the imbalance created by non-native plantings and ensure the survival of future generations of birds.


Traits of Bird-Pollinated Plants

  • Flower colors: scarlet, red orange, white
  • Flowers: large funnel-shaped.
  • Odor: none.
  • No nectar guides.
  • Lots of nectar, deep within flower.
  • Some pollen.

Above traits referenced at:


Traits of Bee-Pollinated Plants

  • Flower colors: bright white, yellow, blue, purple, UV.
  • Flowers: many different shapes and sizes.
  • Nectar guides present.
  • Mild, fragrant odor.
  • Nectar usually present.
  • Pollen often sticky and scented.

Above traits referenced at:


Traits of Butterfly-Pollinated Plants

  •  Flower colors: usually bright; often red, orange, yellow, purple.
  • Flowers: often with a wide landing pad.
  • Odor: Slight.
  • Nectar guides usually present.
  • Lots of nectar, deep within flower.
  • Limited pollen.

A very simple explanation for a wonder of nature – metamorphosis. Many of us have forgotten that the beautiful flying  butterfly starts out as a single tiny egg, shortly, it hatches as a caterpillar eating voraciously shedding its skin many times.  Finally, it goes into the “resting stage” shedding the larval skin and hanging suspended by a thread until it changes its entire physical structure and emerges as a butterfly!

In the caterpillar and butterfly stages the insect must EAT.  That is where we come in as good stewards of  Mother Nature.

From a presentation by Gloria Kidd

The Magic of Milkweed and Monarchs

Planting milkweed contributes to monarch butterfly conservation.  In our native plant pollinator garden at Lowe-White Park, we have several butterfly milkweed – (Asclepias tuberosa), of various sizes, with orange and or yellow blooms.  These blooms last well into early fall.  Each fall the monarch butterflies migrate to the mountains in central Mexico. They return to the US and Canada in the spring, to start new generations of monarchs.

Monarch caterpillars need milkweed plants to grow and develop.  The female monarch butterfly will only lay her eggs on the milkweed.  Many flowering plants will attract adult monarchs, but milkweed is the only host plant for monarchs, which will produce successive generations of monarch butterflies.  Once the monarch butterfly is hatched, it only lives for about 2-6 weeks, although the last generation of the year can live up to 8 or 9 months.

“Plant milkweed and they will come” – for more information.

Milkweed plants that are native to the Southeast region of the US:

  • Aquatic Milkweed   –      Asclepias perennis
  • White Milkweed       –      Asclepias variegate
  • Butterfly Milkweed –      Asclepias tuberosa

Take a walk in the pollinator garden and see how many milkweed plants you can find before our blooms disappear.   Also look for some of the seedpods as the blooms disappear.

Interactive Human Sundial

A new addition to the pollinator garden is the human sundial. A human sundial uses your own shadow to tell the correct time.

How to tell time:

  • Please stand on the current month
  • Your shadow, maybe with arms raised, will fall  on the current hour block
  • During the period of Eastern Standard Time, please subtract one hour


10 Steps to a Better Butterfly Garden

READ. Get a good butterfly identification book, such as Gardening for Butterflies by the Xerces Society and The Life Cycle of Butterflies by Judy Burris and Wayne Richards.

Feed ‘EM. Add nectar-rich annuals, such as zinnias, Mexican sunflower, and lantana, which bloom from spring through fall.

PLANT IN DRIFTS. Butterflies floating overhead are attracted to groups of flowers.

SELECT SINGLES. Include perennials and annuals that have larger, single daisy type flowers. A butterfly will spend more time and save energy visiting one large blossom to gather nectar.

GO NATIVE. Add some plants that are native to our region. Native plants support thousands of species of pollinators including native bees, butterflies, moths, flies, wasps, and flower-visiting beetles.

GROW HOST PLANTS. Create a butterfly  nursery by growing their preferred food plants. For example, Black Swallowtails will lay eggs on dill, fennel, and parsley.

BE A LAZY GARDENER. Hold off on fall cleanup of annuals and perennials until spring. Some butterfly chrysalises (pupas) overwinter in the garden.

BE A BUTTERFLY BARTENDER. Place a shallow dish of wet sand or water where butterflies can sip water. Some species visit wet sites to glean salts and nutrients not found in nectar.

GET INVOLVED AND LEARN. Join the North American Butterfly Association,

SKIP THE PESTICIDES. Many products are indiscriminate and will kill all kinds of caterpillars.