Last week I placed sock feeders for the American Goldfinch we have in and around the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat. I also put up the sunflower seed bird feeder for our seed eating birds. We often see Dark-eyed Junco and Northern Cardinals in or near the habitat. It is important to keep your feeders filled through the winter because birds and wildlife will rely on them through the winter season.
I often get asked “What perennials should I plant for butterflies?” The plant selection can be overwhelming especially if you have a small space. Here are a few suggestions. I have included pictures I have taken over the past 5 years of the plants and the butterflies.
Monarch on aster, Comma on common milkweed, Painted Lady on tall sedum, Monarch on Liatris, Tiger swallowtail on Monarda, Buckeye on Thyme, Painted lady on purple coneflower, Border patch on Rudbeckia, Crescent on butterfly milkweed, Monarch on swamp milkweed, Grey hairstreak on mint, Painted lady on goldenrod, Border patch on sawtooth sunflower and Black swallowtail on tall thistle.
The month of May has been very pleasant and perfect planting weather. You still have time to plant and I recommend planting herbs. Herbs are great for us to eat and also for many of our favorite butterfly caterpillars. Dill and parsley are important food sources for swallowtail caterpillars. I planted dill seed several weeks ago and it is coming up nicely. You still have time to plant the seed.
Plant herbs that have flowers beneficial to butterflies and bees. Consider planting basil, oregano, sage and thyme. I hope to get my basil plants in the ground later today before we get another nice rain tomorrow.
Hope your pollinator habitat is off to a good start this year and you are enjoying it as much as the pollinators and wildlife will.
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.
I love to go out to the Cherry Creek Pollinator habitat after it snows. It is always interesting to see what tracks I can find. Wildlife are very active in the habitat during the winter. This week I found deer, rabbit, raccoon, opossum and varies bird tracks.
More snow is expected for today, but we are ready. The new shed is done and looks great. Bird feeders are up and filled for the birds that visit our pollinator habitat. The no dumping snow sign is posted. Happy Thanksgiving!
Snow came to the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat overnight. It is a reminder that seasons change and winter is on its way. The trees are getting their fall color and the native grasses are beautiful with their tall seed head plumes. Milkweed pods are popping open and releasing their seeds and silky fluff. Nebraska is gorgeous in the fall.
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.
1. Plant Native Plants. Native flora provides native pollinators with food in the form of pollen and nectar. Select plants that have a long bloom time. Also grow a wide selection of plants so you have plants blooming April through October.
2. Let your yard get a little messy. Leave unhazardous snags for nesting places and stack down tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators.
3. Create or protect water sources. 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.
4. Limit or eliminate pesticide use. By using fewer or no chemicals in the landscape you will help keep pollinator populations healthy.
5. Identify non-native invasive plants. Work to remove them from your yard. Do not bring any new invasive plants into your habitat. Invasive plants do not provide as much quality food or habitat as native plants do and can threaten healthy ecosystems.