August Blooming Plants

There are many wonderful native plants blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this month.  The butterflies and bees are in large numbers and it is great to be in the habitat watching all the activity.  Purple coneflower, tall thistle, Joe pye weed, pitcher sage, swamp milkweed, Rudbeckia and whorled milkweed are all blooming now.

MJ Frogge

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Pollinator Talks & Tours – August 3 in Lincoln, Nebraska

The Pollinator Talks & Tours on August 3 is a terrific opportunity to learn more about pollinators, plants and take a tour of pollinator habitats. The tours will be led by staff from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, Entomology, Backyard Farmer, Nebraska By Heart, Nebraska Forest Service and Nebraska Statewide Arboretum.

All events (with the exception of the 2 p.m. tour) begin from the Backyard Farmer (BYF) gardens east of UNL Keim Hall, 1825 N. 38th St in Lincoln, Nebraska.

At the BYF garden, FREE herbal tea will be available and for kids—pollinator activities, face-painting and make-your-own antennae.

Schedule of Events:

  • 9 a.m. Tour of “Nebraska by Heart” installations on UNL east campus
  • 10 and 11 a.m. Tours of the BYF garden and Maxwell, with a focus on plants for pollinators
  • 12 p.m. Brown-bag on monarchs by Shauna Groenewold, Citizen Scientist & Monarch Enthusiast
  • 2 p.m. Tour of Union Plaza pollinator plants starting from 2228 N. 21 St.

This event is sponsored by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, arboretum@unl.edu, 402-472-2971.

Event Links:

Looking for more family fun on August 3?

Enjoy the Pollinator Tours and Talks and then head over to the first official day of the Lancaster County Super Fair in Lincoln! Details at http://superfair.org

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

Culver’s Root, Must Have Pollinator Plant

Culver’s root, Veronicastrum virginicum, is an impressive plant and quite stunning in full bloom. I have this flowering in my home pollinator habitat now and just love it! The flowers are white and resemble an elegant candelabra. It blooms from late June into August. It can reach heights of 3-6 feet tall and adds an amazing vertical element to the landscape. Culver’s root is native to Nebraska and prefers a moist site. It grows well in full sun to part shade. It is an herbaceous perennial that grows in a clump with a rhizome root system, but is not aggressive. Culver’s root has lance-shaped, whorled leaves that are dark green and attractive through the season.

Culver’s root is important to many native pollinators. This plant is visited by leafcutter bees, bumblebees, sweat bees, syrphid flies, red admiral butterflies and soldier beetles.

There are no serious insect or disease problems with Culver’s root. Long flower spikes provide a noticeable accent and impressive vertical height for landscape borders, rain gardens or pollinator habitats.

MJ Frogge

Culver's Root in LandscapeCulver's Root

Nature’s Fireworks

Buttonbush, Cephalanthus occidentalis, has an amazing flower. To me it looks like a bursting firework display.  This native shrub is blooming in my home habitat now.  It can grow in part shade and prefers moist soil. Perfect plant for a rain garden. Bees love this pollinator plant.

MJ Frogge

ButtonbushBumblebee on Buttonbush flower.

Annual Flowers

Annual flowers are an important addition to a pollinator habitat. They bloom all summer and into the fall. They fill the void if your habitat is new and the perennial flowers are not blooming yet. Sulphur cosmos,  larkspur, blue salvia, gomphrena, sweet alyssum, zinnia and sunflower are just a few annual flowers to add to your landscape to help pollinators.

MJ Frogge

Blooming Catalpa

The catalpa tree is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.  Northern Catalpa-Catalpa speciosa has big flowers, big stems, big pods and even bigger leaves. It is quite stunning when it is blooming. It is native to the United States and is a nice tree to have in the landscape if you have the room. There is a catalpa sphinx moth caterpillar that feeds on the leaves and bumble bees visit the flowers.

MJ Frogge

Picky eaters: Bumble bees prefer plants with nutrient-rich pollen

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the habitat

Bumblebee on a common milkweed in the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat

This is an excerpt from on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016:

Bumble bees have discriminating palettes when it comes to their pollen meals, according to researchers at Penn State. The researchers found that bumble bees can detect the nutritional quality of pollen, and that this ability helps them selectively forage among plant species to optimize their diets.

According to Anthony Vaudo, a graduate student in entomology who led the study, scientists previously believed that bees’ preferences for flowering plants were driven by floral traits, such as color, scent, morphology or nectar concentration.

“Here we show that bumble bees actually choose a plant for the nutritional quality of its pollen,” said Vaudo. “This is important because pollen is bees’ primary source of protein and lipids.”

Read more about this Penn State University study in the on-line Science Daily June 27, 2016

Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!

Soni

Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu

What is Blooming in the Habitat

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta) is one of my favorite native wildflowers.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

Hoary vervain, a native wildflower.

It is blooming in the habitat now.  The plant has beautiful purple-blue flowers and blooms for at least 6 weeks.  It gets 2 feet tall and prefers drier soil conditions.  I always see bumblebees visiting the flowers, as well as butterflies and solitary bees.

MJ