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

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

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

Spring Is Here!

Yesterday, March 20, was the Spring Equinox. Spring is here and we are so grateful. Nebraska has endured record snow fall and flooding, so we are happy to have sunny spring weather.

Now is a good time to think about what plants you could add to your pollinator habitat. The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has an excellent list of spring, summer and fall blooming plants that are native to Nebraska. Look over the impressive plant list and also consider certifying your pollinator habitat. Learn more at this link: https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification

MJ Frogge

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Fall Habitat Day

This morning Nebraska Extension Lancaster County Master Gardeners volunteered and helped me in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We had plenty of wonderful rain this year. So the Habitat got a bit over grown. We found the path, bench and picnic table, they were all over grown with native plants and a few weeds. We took out the weeds, cut back a few native grasses, but left everything else. It is important to leave plant material in pollinator habitats for overwintering insects and praying mantis egg cases. Many wildflowers like milkweed and Rudbeckia are dropping seeds now for plants next year. Birds like, American goldfinch, are seed eaters. Leaving the native tall thistle is an important food source for them. I hope we have many more beautiful fall days like today.

MJ Frogge

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Wild Begamot-for Pollinators

Wild bergamot, Monarda fistulosa is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This perennial plant is native to Nebraska and found through out North America. It reaches heights of 2 to 5 feet tall. The flowers are light purple and is an important pollinator plant to bumblebees, skippers, swallowtails, monarchs, solider beetles, wasp, leaf cutter bees and sweat bees.

MJ Frogge

Monarda fistulosawild bergamot