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

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

Spring Flowers

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.

MJ Frogge

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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

Snowdrops!

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.Snowdrops blooming 2018

 

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.

MJ Frogge

August Blooming Plants

There are many wonderful native plants blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat this month.  The butterflies and bees are in large numbers and it is great to be in the habitat watching all the activity.  Purple coneflower, tall thistle, Joe pye weed, pitcher sage, swamp milkweed, Rudbeckia and whorled milkweed are all blooming now.

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