If you plant it, they will come: quantifying attractiveness of exotic plants for winter-active flower visitors in community gardens.
Urban community gardens are potentially important sites for urban pollinator conservation because of their high density, diversity of flowering plants, and low pesticide use (relative to agricultural spaces). Selective planting of attractive crop plants is a simple and cost-effective strategy for attracting flower visitors to urban green spaces, however, there is limited empirical data about which plants are most attractive. Here, we identified key plant species that were important for supporting flower visitors using a network-based approach that combined metrics of flower visitor abundance and diversity on different crop species. We included a metric of 'popularity' which assessed how frequently a particular plant appeared within community gardens. We also determined the impact of garden characteristics such as size, flower species richness, and flower species density on the abundance and diversity of flower visitors. Two plant species, Brassica rapa and Ocimum basilicum were identified as being particularly important species for supporting flower visitor populations. Flower species richness had a strong positive effect on both the abundance and diversity of flower visitors. We suggest that gardeners can maximise the conservation value of their gardens by planting a wide variety of flowering plants including attractive plants such as B. rapa and O. basilicum.