Now is the time to start planning and dreaming about your wonder-garden that will magically appear in the spring….once all the snow is gone.  Remember the immortal words of Michael Perry:

“Seed catalogs are responsible for more unfulfilled fantasies than Enron and Playboy combined.”

Yes, you may be drooling over those glossy pages of beautiful plants cruelly sent to gardeners during the months of December and January–but make sure you plant things that aren’t invasive and that will support your local insects!

iphone bee app

The Pollinator Partnership has released an app for iPhone, iPod, and Android that will help you choose appropriate native plants for your landscape.

The app is fairly simple: you enter your zip code, and from that it determines what native plants are most appropriate. On the photo at right you can see the options for choosing your plants:

  • by pollinator
  • by flower color
  • by the amount of sun your garden gets
  • by soil type
  • by plant type (shrub, annual, perennial)

Very nifty! The little star beneath each plant lets you mark them as a favorite, and collects them all in a list for later reference.  Handy as a list for when you are at your favorite local nursery.

There is also a very good plant name search, so if you are standing in your local nursery and want to know more about the plants you are looking at, this will let you look them up ASAP. Awesome!

I did find a few, very minor glitches, and one major one:

“The Beatles” are a rock band.  Beetles are a type of pollinator. Guess how “Beetles” is spelled in this app.  OY.

I’m not entirely sure what the “Ecoregions” feature does. I think it is the USDA Horticultural zones that are similar to where you live. Interesting, but not much value added. I think it may be there so that you can geo-tag photos.

The app has the ability to add notes and photos of your creation to each plant record. It’s based on a program called Catch, which is a fairly high level note-taking app in its own right.  I decided I didn’t want to download and activate the Catch app–I have nothing to take photos of but dead plants right now–and the phone promptly froze up.

That was a the only real problem I found with what other wise is a very useful tool.  I’ll also mention this app is available for iPad, but alas is the same-sized version you get on your phone. So…all that lovely touch screen? Not used.  That is quite understandable for a group on a limited budget, but I wanted you to know that before you downloaded it to your iPad.

It’s a FREE app, so download it and give it a whirl!  Get with the clicking people!

Native Plant Nurseries in the Midwest:

EDITED 1-13-2012 TO ADD:  The application has now been updated to correct the spelling of beetles. Thanks!

Posted by Gwen Pearson

Writer. Nerd. Insect Evangelist. Have you heard the good news? BUGS!


  1. Thanks for the tip! I’ve been a fan of Pollinator Partnership, and I’m familiar with their publications, but didn’t know they had issued an app.

    USDA Hardiness Zones only provide an estimate of winter hardiness, based on the coldest winter temperatures. As gardeners know, this is only a rough guide, and is only one of innumerable variables to consider when assessing plants for the garden.

    Ecoregions recognize the ecological provinces of plant and animal associations. For example: I garden in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province. Because they take into account existing natural systems, many variables of climate are represented, including rainfall, summer temperatures, and so on.

    Much more information about Ecoregions is available online from the U.S. Forest Service.

  2. Thanks for sharing this app. What impact is global warming having on the pollinators? I see butterflies and spiders in the garden, but rarely bees.

  3. I had to go get the app, of course! Thanks! We’ll see what they say about California chaparral.

  4. Yup, read what you wrote, went to iTunes and bought it. =) Psyched to use it. More bugs = a good thing. Plus plenty of pollinators are pretty (pardon).

  5. I installed the app on my iphone with no problem. The only disappointment I had was that you cannot select plants by bloom season. I could wish they would add that as an option.

  6. […] a link to my review of the plant pollinator app I mentioned. Digital […]

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