Yes, succulents do attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and moths. They also attract pollinating animals, such as bats and hummingbirds.
These pollinators love feeding from the flowers of succulents, just as they would from the flowers of any other plant. It is a great idea to add flowering succulents to your outdoor garden for your pollinator friends to come and enjoy.
In this article, we will discuss more about why pollinators are attracted to succulents and how you can use this to your advantage to have a better garden.
If you wish to learn more about pollinators and succulents, just keep reading.
Why are pollinators important for succulents?
Pollinators are important for succulents because they help create genetic diversity. This will benefit the species as this means the plant develops to acquire more successful traits.
We all know that planting a cutting from a mature plant is one of the easiest ways to reproduce a succulent, and this ability of succulents to propagate is fascinating.
Their ability to reproduce through broken leaves or limbs is an evolutionary adaptation and the plant’s response to damage from the elements such as wind, animals, falling branches and other things. Having thus adapted, whenever the plant is damaged and loses a leaf or a limb, it is just another opportunity for it to produce more copies of itself.
Unfortunately, this also means that the new plant will share exactly the same genetic makeup as its parent plant, so whatever unfavorable traits the parent plant had, the new plant will also have.
In order to correct these poor traits, sexual reproduction through pollination is still necessary, which is why pollinators will always be important to succulents.
Can a succulent get pollinated in other ways, aside from pollinators?
No. Unfortunately, succulents are not like other plants that can be pollinated by wind, water or even self-pollination.
Succulents rely on animal pollination because of how their flowers have evolved. The shape of their flowers have evolved according to their native pollinators, and their colors and scents have evolved specifically to attract certain types of pollinators over others. This is why different succulents from different regions of the world have very differently-shaped flowers.
The presence of these pollinators ensures the continuation and health of wild succulent populations.
When you plant succulents in your garden, make sure you have a large enough variety of flower colors to entice and attract all types of pollinators into your garden.
Are all types of pollinators available throughout the year?
Yes, these pollinators need to feed all year round, in the same way humans need food. And, while there are some butterfly species that migrate thousands of miles, most pollinators do not migrate and tend to stay close to their home.
Although most succulents bloom in the spring and summer, there are varieties that do bloom all the way through fall.
When planting succulents in your garden, make sure you include succulents and plants that bloom at various times of the year so that there will always be flowers for the pollinators to feed on.
Which succulents attract which pollinators?
The United States alone has over 4,000 different bee species, and there are many thousands more in the rest of the world.
Most of the food consumed by humans is directly affected by bee pollination, which is why these insects are so important for the environment.
Adding succulents to your garden not only helps your garden but also your local bee population.
Succulents that attract bees are those that form bloom clusters, which bees find very attractive, such as aichryson, crassula, aeonium, delosperma, dudleya, echinocactus, pectinaria, sedum, sempervivum, stapella and senecio.
Butterflies love succulents that have long-lasting blooms, such as sempervivum and sedum.
Other succulent species loved by butterflies are aichryson, aeonium, calandrinia, crassula, jovibarba, opuntia and senecio.
Moths are nocturnal pollinators and are usually attracted to the paler blooms; not the vibrant ones that attract other pollinators.
Those succulents that prefer moths release a sweet scent to attract them.
Succulents that attract moths are sansevieria, agave, epiphyllum, cereus, and yucca.
Hummingbirds are adept at feeding on bright, tubular flowers that stand atop tall stalks.
There are several succulents that attract hummingbirds, including agave, aloe, echeveria, dudleya, gasteria, opuntia, pachyphytum, sinningia and schlumbergera.
Bats are also nocturnal pollinators for succulents. They are actually one of the primary pollinators of the agave plants that are used to make tequila.
When bats move among the blooms of the succulents, the fur on their faces collects a lot of pollen which they carry with them to other plants.
Aside from agave, bats are also attracted to cereus, hylocereus, yucca and saguaro.
What makes an effective pollinator garden?
When you are designing a pollinator garden, you need to take into account the needs of your visitors. There should be water and shelter available for these pollinators, as well as food for their young.
For example, if you have butterflies in your garden, allocate a portion of the garden as a foraging area for the caterpillars.
Use pesticides as little as possible and, if you absolutely need to, only spray during the night as this is when most pollinators are inactive.
You do not need a large garden to make pollinators happy. They will appreciate any flowers available. Even a single container of mixed succulents on a patio or balcony is welcoming enough for the occasional pollinating insect.
Pollinators add health, color, life and fertility to any garden, and it is only right that we thank them for their service by providing them with the plants they like the most.
Yes, succulents do attract pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies and moths, as well as pollinating animals like bats and hummingbirds.
Their flowers have even evolved according to the types of pollinators that frequently come into contact with them. Which succulents you can grow to entice pollinators will depend on what type of pollinators live in your area.
Pollinators are essential members of the ecosystem because they facilitate the sexual reproduction of plants, which supports their genetic diversity and health.
Image: istockphoto.com / LagunaticPhoto