Start Seeds Indoors Under Lights

startseedsToday I started flower and herb seeds under grow lights. Growing your own transplants is a great way to add annuals, perennials and herbs to your landscape for pollinators. I started basil, parsley, borage, salvia, tithonia and calendula.

Spindly growth is a common problem when growing transplants indoors. It is best to place the seedlings under artificial light.  It is not necessary to have a grow light plant stand. A standard shop light fixture with one cool and one warm fluorescent tube light works fine. Or you can purchase an inexpensive ready to go, out of the box, shop light with LED lights.   For best results, the lights should be approximately 1 inch above the seedlings. Raise the light as the seedlings grow.  Leave the lights on 12 to 16 hours a day.

For more seed starting tips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhLhtIHWvc4

Many flowers do well or better as direct planting outside. Plant zinnia and sunflower seeds after the chance for frost has past and the ground temperature is consistently warm, over 55 degrees F. This usually occurs in mid to late May.

MJ Frogge

Seed Heads

You many think there is not much to see in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this time of year. It may be brown, but there is a lot to see. We do not cut back the habitat plants in the fall. This plant material is cover and protection for the birds, squirrels, opossum, rabbits, raccoons, skunks and deer that frequent the habitat during the winter. The seed heads from our native plants bee balm, goldenrod, brown-eyed Susan, tall thistle, milkweed and sawtooth sunflower feed our wildlife and also reseed themselves for more plants next year.

MJ Frogge

October Snow

Snow came to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat overnight. It is a reminder that seasons change and winter is on its way. The trees are getting their fall color and the native grasses are beautiful with their tall seed head plumes. Milkweed pods are popping open and releasing their seeds and silky fluff. Nebraska is gorgeous in the fall.

MJ Frogge

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Asters Blooming

Asters are blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Asters are hardy perennials that bloom late summer until the first hard frost. Many asters are native to Nebraska and are a late-season source of pollen for bees, migrating monarchs and other pollinators.

Asters native to Nebraska include:

Smooth aster – 2-4 feet tall with purple flowers

Prairie aster – 3-4 feet tall with lavender flowers

Heath aster – 1-3 feet tall with white flowers

New England aster – 3-5 feet tall with pink, red-violet, purple or blue flowers

Asters are easy to grow and look great in a mass planting. They can be planted with other native plants like purple coneflower, coreopsis, black-eyed Susan and native grasses.

The main plant disease is powdery mildew, it causes a whitish growth that appears on leaves. To reduce the chance of this disease, make sure asters are in full sun and plants are not crowded.

MJ Frogge

Praying Mantis

The past few days I have notice many Chinese praying mantis in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. They blend in well with the foliage and can go unnoticed unless disturbed.

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The praying mantis is an easy insect to recognize. They have a long narrow body, small triangular head with two large compound eyes. They also have impressive, large front legs to grab their prey.

Chinese mantis have a body length of 3 to 4.5 inches. The Carolina mantis is smaller, 1.5 to 2.5 inches in length.

Check out your habitat to see if you have both mantis living there. They are fun to watch.

MJ Frogge

 

Blooming in July

The Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is full of bees and butterflies this month. We are seeing many native plants blooming in July:  Rosinweed, Illinois bundleflower, swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, purple coneflower, hoary vervain, and chicory. It is wonderful to have a diverse selection of plants in our pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

Blooming in June

We are seeing so many great native plants blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in June. Bee balm, purple poppy mallow, butterfly milkweed, common milkweed,  prairie fleabane and common yarrow. It is important to have a diverse selection of plants for a pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

Celebrate Pollinator Week

There are many ways you can help pollinators:

1. Plant Native Plants. Native flora provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack down tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators.
3. Create or protect water sources. Bees need water to drink. Create a water feature with rocks for insects to land. Be sure to keep birdbaths clean and change the water three times per week when mosquitoes are breeding.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.

MJ Frogge