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Take the Pittsford Pollinator Pathway Challenge

We’ve launched a new program as of September 20, 2023 that will beautify your yard while you help our local pollinators – the Pittsford Pollinator Pathway Challenge! In collaboration with Color Pittsford Green, we've gathered habitat tips and a list of trees, shrubs and perennial plants that can help you establish part of a pollinator pathway in your own yard.  Pollinator pathways provide corridors of critical healthy habitat and food sources for butterflies, moths, bees and other pollinating insects and wildlife.  It's easy to participate: 

  • Find our tree, shrub and plant list submission form and our habitat tips at
  • Tell us which newly planted and existing native plants, shrubs and trees you have from our list (at least 10 total needed) 
  • Provide water and shelter for pollinators
  • Avoid all pesticides use
  • Submit your completed form at the Spiegel Pittsford Community Center front desk, 35 Lincoln Avenue, during facility hours; see facility hours here
  • Pick up your Pittsford Pollinator Pathway sign at the Community Center when you drop off your completed form
  • Display your sign in your yard!

See our Responsible Lawn Care and Toxic Free Challenge info page for more ways to help pollinators in your yard!

Helping pollinators is not only good for our environment – it helps birds too. The native trees and shrubs on our list are hosts for caterpillars, a critical food source for nearly all baby birds. No caterpillars, no baby birds! We'll be updating habitat tips and garden ideas seasonally in the Town eNews, on our Facebook page and below on this page   be sure to check for updates!

Pittsford Pollinator Pathway sign graphic

Pollinator-friendly Gardening Tips from Color Pittsford Green:

  • When designing your Pittsford Pollinator Pathway garden, choose a variety of plants that bloom at different times of the year. Not only will this keep things interesting for you, it will ensure that pollinators have a source of food when they need it. Early spring bloomers include Golden Alexander and Wild Geranium, summer bloomers include Butterfly Weed and Bee Balm, and fall bloomers include Asters and Goldenrods.
  • Some native plants can get quite tall and flop over if not planted in a meadow with other tall grasses to keep them upright. Feel free to chop off the top third or half of fall-blooming plants in June to keep their height down and encourage more blooms – most asters, coneflowers, and false sunflowers all do well with this treatment.
  • Eastern Bluestar (Amsonia tabernaemontana) is a fantastic pollinator pathway plant. It develops masses of gorgeous blue blooms in late April that last through June. It likes full sun and well-drained soils. Deer and rabbits don’t chew it (they eschew it). Hummingbirds, native bees, and butterflies all flock to it, and it’s a host plant of the Coral Hairstreak caterpillar.
  • Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum, also known as Giant blue hyssop or Lavender hyssop) is another great pollinator pathway plant. It’s technically not native to New York State, but it is native to the great plains and does well in Monroe County. It has amazing fragrance, is especially deer resistant, the blooms last for months, and the bees LOVE it.  It will self seed readily so you can give their babies to friends or plant them in bunches for a splash of summer purple.
  • Even the bees and butterflies need a sip of water from time to time. Adding a butterfly puddler–a wide shallow dish that can capture rain water– to your garden is not only attractive for you, it’s helpful for them!
  • Got deer? Choose native plants that smell minty (like Bee balm (Monarda, spp.) or Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) or have sharp edges (like grasses and sedges like Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Pennsylvania sedge (Carex pensylvanica)). It can even help to plant a grass in the same hole as a native wildflower to aggravate the deer into leaving your flowers alone.
  • Planting a flowering tree is like planting an entire meadow for pollinators. If you have the room, American basswood trees (Tilia americana) provide early spring nutrition for bees. Other keystone trees include native oaks, cherries, maples, dogwoods, and willows. Crucially, these trees provide food and shelter to a variety of caterpillars, which birds need to feed their babies who can not yet digest seeds. Try to include one or more of the keystone trees in your yard.
  • Everyone knows Monarch butterfly caterpillars need milkweed to survive, so planting some in your garden is one of the best things you can do to help these amazing creatures. Choose a milkweed that’s best for your site: Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is pushy and can spread into your lawn, but is great if you have the space – it is a megamart for all kinds of pollinators (and their flowers smell lovely too!). Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) won’t spread so far, has bright pink flowers, and needs moist soils. And Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is shorter, has eye-popping orange blooms, and prefers dry sandy-loamy soils. And be sure to keep invasive swallow-worts (Vinctoxicum, spp) out of your garden – Monarch butterflies can confuse it for milkweed, dooming the next generation. 
  • Keep it wild! Cultivated native plants just aren’t as good for pollinators as their original uncultivated cousins. So look for the italicized botanical name of the plant and avoid those that have additional names added, for example, “Fireworks” or “Pink Delight.” These are likely both more expensive and less nutritious for our local pollinators.
  • Not only do we rely on bees and butterflies to pollinate many of the crops we rely on, they are very enjoyable to watch as they visit our gardens. Try petting a bumble bee next time you see one visiting your flower beds! It probably won’t even notice as she is hard at work slurping up carbs (nectar) and collecting protein (pollen) to bring home to her brood.  Bee-fore reaching for her fuzzy bum, bee sure it’s 1) a bumble bee and not a waspy look-alike, and 2) she’s out foraging and not protecting her nest, lest you meet her stinger too.
  • Early spring blooms provide food for newly emerged bumble bee queens during an especially precarious time. Two good examples are Violets and Golden Alexander. Fall blooms support pollinators that are actively seeking the additional energy needed for overwintering. Two good examples are Asters and Goldenrod. Having both will give you a longer blooming garden but also help pollinators when they need more blooms to start and end their pollinating season.
  • You may see pollinators buzzing around the non-native flowers that brighten up our landscapes and so wonder why bother with growing native? First, there are only certain species of pollinators that can reach the nectar of non-native flowers (because of the shape of their head and length of their tongue) and use it for energy (I’m looking at you honey bees). Second, the pollen of non-native plants can lack the right kind of protein needed by our local pollinators. And finally, moths and butterflies can’t lay their eggs on non-native plants because when they hatch, their caterpillars wouldn’t be able to digest the leaves and soon die. Start adding natives to your garden to give our picky pollinators a chance!
  • Pollinators seek blooms that fit their physiological traits, specifically the length of their tongues. Flowers that are tube-shaped attract long-tongued pollinators, such as butterflies, moths, and bumble bees. Beardtongue (Penstemon), Lobelia (), and Bee Balm (Monarda) will attract Bees and Hummingbirds. 
  • Many butterflies overwinter as caterpillars (larvae) or pupae on the ground under leaf litter. Underplant the trees in your landscape with native perennials and small shrubs to provide a “soft landing.”