Pollinator Festival

Life as a pollinator may seem easy during the spring and summer, but fall brings new challenges. As winter approaches, bees produce excess honey to sustain them through winter while migrating species like monarch butterflies and hummingbirds depend on nectar plants to fuel their journey to warmer climates.

When these plants are in short supply, pollinators can suffer. Fortunately, planting a fall pollinator garden can be quick and easy with the correct resources.

Learn what it takes to make your garden more pollinator friendly by attending the Pollinator Festival and Fall Plant Sale at Mercer Botanic Gardens.

The festival kicks off Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. with a plant sale and free hourly presentations spotlighting hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, and East Texas nectar plants. Visitors can learn how to build a monarch waystation, vote for the best pollinator-themed scarecrow display, and peruse books at the Baldwin Boettcher Branch Library booth. Guests are also welcome to bring their potted plants for a checkup and ask gardening questions at the Harris County Master Gardeners booth.

 “The festival is a celebration of pollinators of all varieties,” said Jennifer Garrison, Mercer Botanic Gardens’ education director. “Come dressed as a bee, butterfly, bat, hummingbird, or flower and enjoy the fun. You’ll leave with a better understanding of pollinator conservation and how to use nectar and native host plants to create a habitat for local and migratory pollinators.”

The plant sale will feature the region’s largest selection of pesticide-free milkweed, Texas natives, and other pollinator host plants, including coneflowers and passion vine. Eight varieties of milkweed, which are essential for butterfly survival and reproduction, will be available for purchase.

“The most sought-after plants will be our Mercer-grown native milkweeds,” said Brandon Hubbard, a grower with The Mercer Society. “Zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides) is the real prize of the group because of how difficult it is to grow and its unusual beauty.”

The festival will also include a pollinator-themed scarecrow contest. Anyone who would like to participate should register online at www.hcp4.net/parks/mercer/volunteer/. All festival activities take place in Mercer’s East Side Garden at 22306 Aldine Westfield Road, Humble TX 77338. Refreshments will be available for purchase at the food trucks.

For more information, call Mercer at 713-274-4160 or visit www.hcp4.net/parks/mercer/.