Happy Pollinator Week!

Happy National Pollinator Week!  I hope you are able to start a pollinator habitat this year or add plants to the habitat you already have in your landscape. Gardening has become very popular this year, so more people are outside and hopefully noticing pollinators. There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week:

monarch

1. Plant Native Plants. Native plants 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 tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators. Build an insect hotel or bee house in your landscape.
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

Plant Herbs

The month of May has been very pleasant and perfect planting weather.  You still have time to plant and I recommend planting herbs.  Herbs are great for us to eat and also for many of our favorite butterfly caterpillars. Dill and parsley are important food sources for swallowtail caterpillars. I planted dill seed several weeks ago and it is coming up nicely.  You still have time to plant the seed.

dill

Plant herbs that have flowers beneficial to butterflies and bees. Consider planting basil, oregano, sage and thyme. I hope to get my basil plants in the ground later today before we get another nice rain tomorrow.

basil

Hope your pollinator habitat is off to a good start this year and you are enjoying it as much as the pollinators and wildlife will.

BEE safe, MJ Frogge

What is Blooming in April?

This week we celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day. We are having fantastic weather, so hope you are able to get outside and plant.

Many great pollinator plants are blooming now. They include pasque flower, redbud, Dutchman’s breeches, white trout lily, Virginia bluebells, spring beauty, wild plum and dandelions. Yes, dandelions are a great early blooming plant for pollinators.  I found tiny native bees visiting the plants.  Let a few plants remain and bloom in your habitat.  Remove the dead flowers before they go to seed.

MJ Frogge

Spring & New Normal

Spring is here and we are enjoying the roller coaster of temperatures. Warm & sunny one day, cloudy & cold the next. That is spring in Nebraska. Due to COVID-19 we have a new normal to our life. Nebraska Extension staff are working remotely and the office is closed. I am disappointed I can not be in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat, it is a special place. I like to watch the plants emerge and the start of bee activity. We can watch the Live Habitat Web Cam, so that does help me keep an eye on what is going on. You can watch too by clicking the link above.

I hope everyone is spending time in their home pollinator habitat. I have been. It is nice to spend lunch time outside seeing what is blooming and plotting my next project. Now is a good time to make a list of spring blooming plants you need to add to your habitat. Consider spring blooming bulbs like scilla, crocus, snowdrops, striped squill and glory-of-the-snow. Spring blooming trees include redbud, plums and cherries. Perennials that bloom in the spring are Dutchman’s breeches, spring beauty and pasqueflower.

Get outside!

MJ Frogge

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