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.

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

Make Your Own Bee House

You still have time this spring to build your own bee house for solitary bees like leaf cutter bees.  It does not need to be as large as the one located in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat.

The NebGuide: Creating a Solitary Bee Hotel will help you make one.  Start today!

http://extensionpublications.unl.edu/assets/pdf/g2256.pdf

MJ Frogge

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick a size that works best in your habitat.

Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.

beehouseJackMorris

Master Gardener Jack’s bee house.

tombeehouse

Master Gardener Tom’s bee house.

What is Blooming in April?

What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat.  They 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

Perennial Plant of the Year-It’s a Native!

butterflymilkweed2

Butterfly milkweed

Every year the Perennial Plant Association designates a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” This announcement is well know among gardeners and horticulturists like me.  I usually have it as a featured article in the Horticulture section of our county newsletter the Nebline. The 2017’s selection made me jump with joy! It is an important native pollinator plant, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).  This plant will be recognized and promoted extensively this year.  I am hopeful many gardeners will plant it and continue to add native plants to their landscape. It is beneficial to Monarchs and other native pollinators.

MJ Frogge

Summer Blooming Plants for Pollinators

To celebrate pollinator week consider certifying your landscape in the Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program. Summer flowering plants that bloom in June and July are an important section of the application.  Your pollinator habitat must have plant diversity and long blooming plants are necessary for every pollinator habitat. To see the application, visit this web site: http://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

MJ Frogge

June and July Blooming Plants

Allium cernuum – Nodding Onion
Amorpha canescens – Leadplant
Aruncus dioicus – Goat’s Beard
Asclepias sp. – Milkweed
 Cepholanthus occidentalis – Buttonbush
Coreopsis lanceolata – Tickseed
Coreopsis tinctoria – Plains Coreopsis
Dalea purpurea – Purple Prairie Clover
Echinacea angustifolia – Narrowleaf Coneflower
Echinacea purpurea – Purple Coneflower
Gaillardia sp. – Blanketflower
Liatris sp. – Gayfeather
Monarda sp. – Bee Balm
Packera plattensis – Prairie Groundsel
Oenothera sp.  – Evening Primrose
Penstemon cobaea – Prairie Penstemon
Penstemon digitalis – Beardtongue
Penstemon grandiflorus – Large Beardtongue
Rosa arkansana – Prairie Rose
Rosa blanda – Smooth Rose
Rosa carolina – Carolina Rose
Ruellia humilis – Wild Petunia
Silphium perfoliatum
Tilia sp. – Linden
Tradescantia sp. – Spiderwort
Verbenena canadensis – Rose Vervain
Veronicastrum virginicum – Culver’s Root
Arenaria hookeri – Hooker’s Sandwort
Callirhoe involucrata – Purple Poppymallow
Calylophus serrulatus – Yellow Sundrops
Erigeron sp. – Fleabane

 

Build a Solitary Bee Nest Using Recycled Materials

Native bees are important pollinators. Some native bees, like leaf cutter bees and mason bees, nest in hollow plant stems.  You can help native solitary bees by providing a man-made bee nest. The kids that attended my Clover College workshop last week made these bee nests. They had a fun time and this would be easy for your family to make for Pollinator Week.

Supplies

1 ¾ inch plastic lid from juice container

Paper towel tube cut to 7 inches in length (we use the tube from automated paper towel dispensers) If you use a regular sized paper towel tube, the plastic juice container lid will need to be 1 ½ inches.

Paper drinking straws cut to 6 inches in length

Mason bee tubes (optional)

Duct tape

Zip ties or twine

supplies

Bee Nest supplies: paper towel tube, plastic lid, paper straws and duct tape.

Instructions

Push the juice container lid into the cut end of the paper towel tube.  It should fit snuggly. The nesting tube needs to have one end closed off or the bees will not be able to nest in the tube.

Place the paper straws and/or mason bee tubes in the paper towel tube and push them back so they are snug against the juice lid. Place enough paper straws inside until they are snug and will not fall out.

top

Paper straws inserted into paper towel tube and pushed snug to the back.

Cover the outside of the paper towel tube with duct tape.  This will help keep the bee nest water proof and last longer.

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally.  The opening should face south or southeast. Put the nest approximately 2-4 feet above the ground. Use two zip ties or twine to attach the bee nest to a post or fence. You could also attach it to a building, tree or large shrub. Wherever you place the bee nest, make sure it is securely attached and level.

post

Place your bee nest outside in your landscape with the nest positioned horizontally. The opening should face south or southeast.

Female native solitary bees will nest in the bee tube during the spring and summer.  The immature bees will over winter in the tube and emerge as adults next spring. Leave the bee nest in place for approximately two years.  Replace the bee nest when all the bees have emerged.

MJ Frogge

It is Pollinator Week!

Happy National Pollinator Week!  There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week:

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.

If you live in Lincoln, attend this event:

Pollinator Power Event

Tuesday, June 21st 2016 (5:30 – 7:30 PM)

At UNL East Campus, Lincoln NE

Entomology & Agronomy and Horticulture Departments’ Pollinator Garden

Directions: On UNL East Campus

Take Fair Street North of the College of Law Building.

Follow gravel road back towards 48th and Holdrege, park where directed.

Kids activities
Pollinator demonstration, garden tours
Learn about pollinator-friendly plants, honey bees, wild bees, Monarch butterflies and more…

MJ