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.
Snowdrops are blooming in my home habitat. It is one of my favorite plants. We have had snow and ice, but snowdrops can handle this type of weather. This stunning and tough little flower benefits pollinators. If the temperature is above 45 degrees F when it is blooming, you will find honey bees visiting these delightful flowers.
Other spring flowering bulbs that benefit pollinators include Scilla, Glory-of-the-Snow and Crocus. Consider planting these bulbs this fall in your pollinator habitat.
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
Honey bee visiting a birdbath.
Four sizes of bee houses. Pick one that works best in your habitat.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Posted in bee house, bees, beneficial insects, education, perennials, Plants, Pollinators, solitary bees
- Tagged Education, Plant, pollinators, Water
The Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat received snow this week. I enjoy looking for animal tracks after it snows. Even though it is cold, there is lots of activity in the habitat. Birds, a squirrel, rabbits and deer visit the Cherry Creek habitat.
Winter is here at the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. The insect hotel we built in 2013 is still holding up well. It is filled with pine cones, logs, twigs, bark, rolled corrugated cardboard and egg cartons. These items are nice hiding places for insects. Beneficial insects like lady bugs and lacewing over winter as adults, so they need a place to spend winter months. Consider constructing one in your pollinator habitat next year.
This week Chris finished up installing our new educational signs in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. We had moisture issues and ants nesting in our previous sign frames. Very frustrating! Jenny helped us with the process of getting replacement frames. These frames were a different size, so new signs needed to be ordered. Vicki updated and ordered our educational signs and when they arrived, Chris installed them. We are so pleased to have them since they are an important educational features in our pollinator habitat.
Last week I planted spring flowering bulbs in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. I planted crocus, glory-of-the-snow and grape hyacinth. These spring bulbs are beneficial to early pollinators like honey bees and some native bees. Many of these pollinators are out early in the spring and need these early blooming plants. Spring bulbs are an easy addition to your habitat and you can still plant them, but do it soon! Other bulbs include snowdrops (my favorite), winter aconite, daffodil, fritillaria and Siberian squill.
Yesterday was a great fall day to be in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. Jody and I were weeding and doing a little bit of clean up. While we were doing this, we found a few Chinese praying mantids egg cases. They are roundish and look like foam. The Carolina mantid egg case is flat, rectangular shaped and smaller. Both mantids are found in Nebraska.
If you find praying mantid egg cases on your plants or in the landscape, you should leave them alone. Each egg case contain up to two hundred eggs. In the spring the nymphs will emerge and they look like tiny versions of adult mantids. These insects are beneficial because they eat insect pests. But they can also eat other beneficial insects as well.
Fall is the time to plant spring flowering bulbs. These plants are the first bloomers in the spring. They are important for pollinators that are out early looking for flowers. Plant bulbs in groups so you will have a mass of flowers come springtime.
Snow drops are the first bulbs to bloom in the spring. In February and March, if the temperature is over 40 degrees F, you will find honeybees out on snow drop flowers.
Bees also can be found on crocus.
Glory-of-the-snow is a beautiful little bulb that comes in blue, pink and white.
Grape hyacinth is bulb that will spread and multiple over the years.
Hope you will consider adding spring bulbs to your pollinator habitat. They will be a wonderful addition to your garden and beneficial to the early spring pollinators.
During the month of September we have enjoyed the migration of painted lady butterflies. Entomologists suggest the high population is because of a great summer season of breeding that boosted the population. Omaha, Lincoln and the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat have experienced large populations this month. Neighboring states, Colorado, Iowa and Kansas have seen increased populations as well. Enjoy them while they are here.