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

Starting Seeds Inside

Last week I started flower and herb seeds under grow lights. Some are already germinated and growing!  Growing your own transplants is a great way to add annuals, perennials and herbs to your landscape for pollinators. I started basil, borage, blue salvia 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. 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.

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

Resolutions to Help Pollinators

Happy New Year!

Here are a few ways you can help pollinators this year. This is a resolution that will be fun and easy to keep.


Offer a Drink & a Home
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. Build a bee house or insect hotel to provide nesting and shelter for pollinators.
Plant Native
Plant native plants in your landscape. There are so many amazing plants to choose from. Here are a few suggestions to get you started: plains coreopsis, pasque flower, pitcher sage, purple coneflower, smooth aster and rough gayfeather. Do not for get trees and shrubs!
Bloom all Season
It is important to have native flowers blooming the whole growing season. Pollinators need plants blooming March through November.
Plant Milkweed
Monarchs need our help. Provide food for monarch butterfly caterpillars. There are several milkweeds to choose from: butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, whorled milkweed and swamp milkweed.
No Chemicals
Protect pollinators by eliminating pesticides from your landscape. Plant native plants that have few pest or disease issues. Maintain a healthy soil by composting. Healthy soils produce healthy plants.
“Bee” Involved
Learn more about organizations that support pollinators such as Pollinator Partnership. You can participate in citizen scientist programs for pollinators such as Bumble Boosters-University of Nebraska, Bumble Bee Watch-Xerces Society, The Great Sunflower Project-San Francisco State University and the Monarch Larva Monitoring Project-Monarch Watch.

MJ Frogge

September Blooming

The Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat is full of color and life. There are so many important native plants blooming now. These plants are important because they are used by migrating butterflies like monarch and painted ladies. They are also important to the native bees and other beneficial insects that will be active until the first hard frost. Blooming in the habitat right now is smooth aster, tall thistle, sawtooth sunflower, goldenrod and pitcher sage.

MJ Frogge

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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

UNL Gardens on East Campus

There are three must see gardens located at University of Nebraska-Lincoln East Campus in Lincoln Nebraska. All have plants for pollinators.

 

Back Yard Farmer Garden, located east of Keim Hall. Flower, vegetable and herb garden with All-America Selection plants.

Yeutter Gardens, located between Dairy Store and Maxwell Arboretum. Many perennial flowers.

The Pollinator Gardens, located east of the Vet Complex. Many pollinator plants, bee house and a huge honeycomb structure. Plan to attend the walking tour in July.

MJ Frogge

UNL Gardens Walking Tour

POLLINATOR GARDENS-East Campus, Lincoln Nebraska

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

12:00 pm–1:00 pm

Dept. of Entomology Pollinator Gardens

The gardens consist of a Water-wise planting, a Pollinator Prairie, and a Pollinator Plot that includes areas specifically for Swallowtail and Monarch larvae.

Directions: Head east off the East Campus Loop between the Law College and Vet Complex, veer right at the end of the road and go through the gate. Follow the white rock road.

Husker Red

Blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ ‘Husker Red’ grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The flowers are white with a pink tinge. The foliage is a stunning burgundy. It does best in well-drained soils and full sun. This plant ‘Husker Red’ was introduced by the University of Nebraska. It was selected as the 1996 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.

MJ Frogge

PenstemondigHRed