Project Pollinator

Project Pollinator Downtown Waterloo

Silos & Smokestacks National Heritage Area (SSNHA) partnered with Main Street Waterloo (MSW) to improve the habitat for pollinators in downtown Waterloo.

Ten corner planters on East Fourth Street, from Sycamore to Mulberry Streets, will be filled with a variety of flowers that offer pollinator insects an alternative food source. Plants include Zinnias, Salvia, Lantana, Alyssum, Moss roses, Calibrachoa, and Butterfly weed.

The flowers  used were chosen because they come in a multitude of different colors. Some insects prefer a certain color over others. Having multiple colors will benefit more than one species of pollinator. Height also comes in to play with some pollinator insects. These plants range in height from four inches to 24 inches tall. Some pollinators would rather be close to the ground while feeding while others like to be high and have a large open flower to provide a “landing strip.”

Area businesses and organizations can get involved by signing Silos & Smokestacks Pollinator Pledge. By signing the pledge citizens commit to a suggested list of activities that support the importance of pollinator habitat both restored and maintained on public and private lands.


Calibrachoa: Better Homes & Gardens call this flower a tiny petunia on steroids. As there has been a tradition of petunias along 4th St. in the past, this little flower pays homage to that, but in a multitude of colors. This short flower is great for containers and fills in spaces nicely.  You also do not need to dead head this flower, a bonus for maintenance over the growing season.

Alyssum: As the planters will be out in full sun all day, it was important to find flowers that could tolerate the direct sun and heat during July and August. The small purple and white flowers of the Alyssum will do just that.

Zinnias: Zinnias are great for color and their height helps to shade out any potential weeds. Their strong stems and large flowers are attractive to a multitude of pollinators especially butterflies and bumble bees. Zinnias like the heat and dry conditions so hopefully the rains won’t be too plentiful this summer.

Moss Roses: Coming in shades of red, yellow, white, orange, purple, and pink, this little flower doesn’t need much water.

Lantana: Butterflies and hummingbirds love Lantanas! This multi-colored flower is drought tolerant and the deer don’t like them.

Verbena: Selected for their long lasting blooms and tolerance to the hot dry conditions found downtown.

Yellow coreopsis: These yellow, daisy-like flowers are also known as tickseed for the small, brown, tick-like seeds they produce. This flower will attract many different kinds of pollinators.

Butterfly milkweed: To see if a perennial would work in the downtown growing conditions, we decided to try the plant most beneficial to the Monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies will only lay their eggs on a milkweed ensuring their young, the caterpillar, has the correct type of food to eat, milkweed leaves.

Pollinator Pledge

Click HERE to download and sign the Pollinator Pledge

Pollinator Fast Facts

Click HERE for the buzz!