Q Do plants produce nectar every day?
— Arlene Koziol, volunteer, Madison Audubon Society
A Not all plants produce nectar, only plants that are visited by animal-type pollinators. Plants that are wind-pollinated, for example, will not produce nectar.
You need a flower to make nectar, and those plants that do produce nectar will produce it as long as their flowers are open.
Some plants are hermaphroditic, meaning they’re both male and female. These plants tend to produce nectar every day.
Other plants will open as male first, then become female. The flowers will change gender over time, and the amount of nectar produced every day could change because of that.
When the nectar is depleted, the plant will make more, but it takes some time.
Nectar is made as a reward for pollinators. They need the plants in order to survive because it’s their food source, how they get their sugar. We need to maintain these plants so we can maintain the pollinators.
Pollination is so important. Something like 80 percent of flowering plants require some form of pollination, whether by insects or animals. The biggest pollinators, especially in temperate regions, are bees.
In agriculture, bees play a very big role. Most of the vegetables, fruits and oil- or hay-producing crops like canola and alfalfa require insects for seed production.
Johanne Brunet is a professor in the UW-Madison department of entomology and a scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service.