Milkweed is up! We have common, butterfly and swamp milkweed growing in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. I am anxious to see my first Monarch in the habitat. I know many pollinator watchers have had their first sighting already.
Near the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat wild plum and willow trees are blooming. These plants are important early blooming flowers for pollinators. Wild violets and dandelions are also blooming. Yesterday we taught youth about habitats at an outdoor education event at a nearby state park. It was great to show the students the early blooming flowers we saw, white trout lily and Dutchman’s breeches. Hope you can get outside this weekend and see what is blooming.
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
Spring blooming plants are important for early pollinators. This morning in the habitat I saw a queen bumblebee on a dandelion flower. Blooming this month we had pasque flower, wild plum, prairie ragwort, peach leaf willow and redbud.
Yesterday was Earth Day. This was the first nice weekend day that was not cold or snowy. My family and I celebrated by hiking at Pioneers Park through the Fleming Woods. It was a beautiful day, we saw many migrating birds and early blooming wildflowers. Blooming now is cut-leaf toothwort, white fawn lily and false rue anemone.
Here are a few suggestions to celebrate Earth Day this week:
Plant a tree. Trees for Lancaster County Nebraska:
Recycle. Most large cities have drop off recycling sites.
Go outside and celebrate. Attend Lincoln Earth Day Celebration, Saturday, April 28th, 10 am – 3 pm at Union Plaza, Lincoln NE. More Information: https://lincolnearthday.org/
“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.” A.A. Milne Who doesn’t love dandelions? They are the most well recognized flower anywhere you go. 473 more words
“…Early spring pollinators need a balanced diet much like people. Too much sugar and not enough protein will not provide the queens with essential elements for healthy progeny. White clover does produce nectar but not in the same quantity as dandelions. However, unlike dandelions, the protein content of white clover pollen is high and contains all the essential nutrients needed for pollinator health…”
“…Dandelions and white clover together make for a happy and healthy diet options for pollinators. However, they do not make for a happy homeowner. The last 50 years we have become obsessed with a thick, lush, weed-free lawn. We spray, pull, and weed-out anything that is not turf grass from the lawn. This leaves very little options for our insect friends….”
Learn more. Read Fields of White & Gold — GRO Big Red from our Nebraska Extension in Douglas-Sarpy colleagues.
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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.
Right now prairie ragwort is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It is a wonderful early blooming perennial that is native to Nebraska. It reaches one foot in height and has sunny yellow flowers.
Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important. What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them. We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect. It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.