The Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat has received much needed rain. It is raining right now! Plants have grown well and the habitat has greened up. Common milkweed, Joe-Pye weed, hoary vervain, bee balm, tall thistle, common yarrow, aster, penstemon, purple coneflower, goldenrod and cup plant are found in the in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Master Gardener volunteers helped cut back dead plants, weed trees and spread mulch earlier this month. I added new blocks to the solitary bee house. We should be seeing leaf cutter bees soon. Spring is here.
Mid-March is the perfect time to start seeds for plants to place in your pollinator habitat. Growing your own transplants is a great way to add annuals, perennials and herbs to your landscape for pollinators. Consider starting herbs like basil, parsley and borage. Annual salvia, tithonia, sweet alyssum, cosmos, zinnia and calendula are great annual flowers for bees and butterflies. Perennials like Black-eyed Susan, milkweed and mint can be started inside as well.
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.
January is a great time to make plans for the coming year. Buy a notebook for a journal and use it to keep all your pollinator gardening information. List the plants growing in your habitat. Include the name of seed companies, plant name, variety, planting date and flower date. During the growing season keep notes on how well the plants do and if there are any issues. All this information will be helpful when you are ready to add new plants. I also enjoy visiting other gardens to get ideas. The Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium have beautiful butterfly gardens.
Lists! I need lists to help me with my plans for the new year. My favorite list is what plants am I going to add to the pollinator habitat. Annual flowers, perennials, herbs, fruit trees and vegetables are all great additions to a habitat. It is also important to consider bloom time. Early blooming plants are just as important as summer and fall bloomers. If you need help with plant selection, a good list to start with is the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program. This plant list has plants that bloom from March to October and are well suited for Nebraska.
The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program has a new website:
Cup plant is a native perennial that is 3-6 feet tall with numerous large, yellow composite flowers. The leaves are joined at stem to form a small cup that holds water that attracts insects and birds. We have several cup plants in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It started flowering in early July and is still blooming. This would be a great addition to any pollinator habitat.
Happy Pollinator Week!! It is a great time to visit the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. So many wonderful plants are blooming in June. Rudbeckia, hoary vervain, common milk weed, butterfly milkweed, purple poppy mallow, common yarrow, beebalm and fleabane. All these plants are great for our pollinators.
I often get asked “What perennials should I plant for butterflies?” The plant selection can be overwhelming especially if you have a small space. Here are a few suggestions. I have included pictures I have taken over the past 5 years of the plants and the butterflies.
Monarch on aster, Comma on common milkweed, Painted Lady on tall sedum, Monarch on Liatris, Tiger swallowtail on Monarda, Buckeye on Thyme, Painted lady on purple coneflower, Border patch on Rudbeckia, Crescent on butterfly milkweed, Monarch on swamp milkweed, Grey hairstreak on mint, Painted lady on goldenrod, Border patch on sawtooth sunflower and Black swallowtail on tall thistle.
Amazing flowers bloom during the summer months. We have a great collection of native flowers in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The weather has been good and we have had plenty of rain. Summer blooming native plants are so important to pollinators. It is important to have a variety and have them in mass plantings. Native plants that have bloomed in the habitat this summer include: purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, two varieties of beebalm, black-eyed Susan, blanket flower, fleabane, vervain, chicory, swamp milkweed and lead plant. Enjoy the summer flowers!
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.
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.
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.