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Gardener reveals importance of leaving plant stems after pruning: 'I had no idea'

"I will definitely reconsider the next time I go to clear out all the dead stuff."

"I will definitely reconsider the next time I go to clear out all the dead stuff."

Photo Credit: Instagram

If you've ever wondered whether you really need to clear out last season's dead plant stems and debris, a Chicago-area gardener has an important tip that may convince you to put down the pruning shears this fall.

Leaving old stems in place can provide essential nesting spots for native bees, according to an eye-opening video.

The scoop

Gardener Sarah (@nativebloomgarden) took to Instagram to share a fascinating fact about solitary bees and their reliance on plant stems.

"Want to see why it's important to leave your plant stems? It's for the bees!" she says in her video.

As Sarah explains, tiny solitary bees carve out the soft inner tissue of old flower stems to create nesting cells for their offspring.

"She will place a ball of pollen mixed with nectar and lay an egg on it. When the egg hatches, the larva will feed on the pollen ball," Sarah says. The newly hatched bees emerge the following year to start the cycle anew.

"This fall, consider leaving your stems! They will be hidden by the new growth in no time!" Sarah concludes in her caption.

How it's working

Resisting the urge to clear out your garden can pay off in more ways than one. By providing critical habitat for native pollinators, you're supporting the very creatures that help your garden thrive year after year.

No bees means no pollination, and that means no fruits, veggies, or flowers. But beyond ensuring your own garden's success, which in turn will boost your mental and physical health and save you money on produce, you're also doing your part to protect endangered bee species that are crucial to our entire food system.

That's what we call a win-win.

What people are saying

Sarah's video struck a chord with many viewers who had never considered the habitat value of those old plant stems.

"Interesting! I had no idea bees did this. Thanks," wrote one commenter.

Another replied: "I did not know this! I will definitely reconsider the next time I go to clear out all the dead stuff."

"I did not know this," a third shared. "Thank you for helping us be more mindful gardeners."

As you head into your fall garden cleanup this year, take a page from Sarah's book and leave some of last year's leftovers behind. The bees (and your future blooms) will thank you.

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