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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Help pollinators thrive by incorporating native plants in your garden

Native wildflowers have deep roots that absorb rainwater and reduce flooding and runoff to rivers and streams. In addition to protecting our water environment, these native plants help serve as habitat for pollinators. 

The benefits of native plants

Native plants provide numerous benefits. The MWRD began its native prairie landscaping (NPL) in 2003 by converting more than 31 acres of conventional turf grass to native prairie plants at MWRD water reclamation plants. We now have over 50 acres of NPL, including over 23 acres of milkweed, to support the monarch butterfly population. Native plants provide numerous benefits:

  • Reduce the long-term cost of grounds maintenance.
  • Infiltrate stormwater.
  • Sequestor carbon.
  • Increase biodiversity and wildlife habitat.
  • Provide food and shelter for pollinators.

The benefits of pollinators

Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators. Successful pollination results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce, according to the Pollinator Partnership. Pollinator species, thus, are critical to our agricultural system as well as the prosperity of our farming communities, and the continued well-being of our national forests and grasslands, which provide fish, wildlife, timber, water, and other resources.

About 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators, and over 200,000 animal species act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, flies, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies and moths, according to the Pollinator Partnership. Healthy pollinator populations play a vital role in producing more than 150 crops grown in the United States, including apples, alfalfa, almonds, blueberries, cranberries, kiwis, melons, pears, plums, and squash. The honeybee pollination alone adds more than $18 billion in value to agricultural crops annually, studies show.

Additional Resources

A variety of flowers with the blue sky in the background on a sunny day

Become a Social Butterfly!

Share your plant’s journey (including your seed preparation) via a photo or a short video (15 to 60 seconds) on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Tag the MWRD using the hashtags #SavetheMonarchs #ILMonarchProject. We may showcase you! We also highlight news and activities about this partnership on our social media channels, so give us a follow!