Every year the Perennial Plant Association designates a “Perennial Plant of the Year.” This announcement is well know among gardeners and horticulturists like me. I usually have it as a featured article in the Horticulture section of our county newsletter the Nebline. The 2017’s selection made me jump with joy! It is an important native pollinator plant, butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa). This plant will be recognized and promoted extensively this year. I am hopeful many gardeners will plant it and continue to add native plants to their landscape. It is beneficial to Monarchs and other native pollinators.
Posted in milkweed, Monarch, Native, perennials, Plants, Pollinators
- Tagged environment, flowers, landscape, milkweed, Monarch, Native, perennial, Plant
Happy National Pollinator Week! There are many ways to celebrate pollinator week:
1. Plant Native Plants. Native plants 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 tree limbs to create a brush pile, which is a great source of cover for pollinators. Build an insect hotel or bee house in your landscape.
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.
If you live in Lincoln, attend this event:
Pollinator Power Event
Tuesday, June 21st 2016 (5:30 – 7:30 PM)
At UNL East Campus, Lincoln NE
Entomology & Agronomy and Horticulture Departments’ Pollinator Garden
Directions: On UNL East Campus
Take Fair Street North of the College of Law Building.
Follow gravel road back towards 48th and Holdrege, park where directed.
Pollinator demonstration, garden tours
Learn about pollinator-friendly plants, honey bees, wild bees, Monarch butterflies and more…
Today is Arbor Day. If you are planting a tree today or this weekend, consider planting a tree that would benefit pollinators. Trees to consider include: oak, red maple, crabapple, black cherry, American Linden, hackberry, plums and eastern redbud. If you do not have room for a tree consider planting shrubs. Shrubs that are good for pollinators are: dogwood, sumac, buttonbush, seven sons flower, elderberry and viburnum. The Nebraska Forest Service has an excellent website to help you with tree selection, tree planting directions and tree care. Visit them at: http://nfs.unl.edu/
Seven sons flower.
Eastern redbud tree.
Happy New Year!
Honey bee visiting a birdbath.
Monarch caterpillar on swamp milkweed.
Bumble bee on Pitcher’s sage.
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
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.
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.
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.
Asters are one of my favorite flowers. Smooth aster, Aster laevis, is blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. This native aster produces an abundance of lavender-blue flowers through late autumn.
Smooth Aster is upright with arching branches and reaches 3 feet tall. It easily grows in dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Asters are a must for your perennial garden. All bees, bumble bees and butterflies flock to asters. They are an excellent stopover plant for migrating Monarchs.
Bumble bee on Pitcher’s sage.
Pitcher’s sage (Salvia azurea) has been blooming in the habitat for a few weeks. It has an amazing blue color. This native perennial is in the mint family, but is not an aggressive spreader. The stems are tall and erect, with the plant reaching a height of 2-5 feet. Plant it in full sun. Nearly every day this month, I see bumble bees on the flowers of this plant. They love it and so will you.
Pitcher’s sage in the Cherry Creek Habitat.
About this photo: One of the skunks we see regularly in habitat photos captured with the live cam.
This photo was taken March 28, 2015 at 1 a.m. CT
Last fall, a Web camera was mounted so everyone could watch a live stream view of the Cherry Creek Habitat 24/7. In addition to the change in seasons, viewers have also enjoyed wildlife using this educational area.
A couple weeks ago, I went through the camera still shots and pulled together some of the highlights from January-April 2015. Vicki in our office posted the photos to Flickr. The list of wildlife includes: two different skunks, two raccoons, two cats, a small herd of deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds and a wild turkey. There is a description with the date/time of day each still photo was taken.
Cherry Creek Habitat Web Cam Still Photos 2015 – more photos will be added each month. Enjoy!
Here’s to Sharing the Buzz!
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere – http://lancaster.unl.edu
Posted in Habitat, Plants, Pollinators, Wildlife
- Tagged beneficial, Education, habitat, insect, insects pollinators, Native, nature, pollinator, preservation, UNL Extension, wildlife
Prairie ragwort is a native plant that blooms May through June. This wildflower is a biennial or short-lived perennial that is approximately one foot tall. It attracts many pollinators like bees, flies, moths and butterflies.
Prairie ragwort blooming now in the Cherry Creek Habitat.
We have been enjoying beautiful fall days this week in the pollinator habitat. Chris helped me unload another truck load of bark. Thank you Chris and I promise this is the last load for this year. Soni and I spread the bark and placed new pavers, donated by Jim. The pavers make it easier to walk through our dry stream bed that was added for erosion control and direct foot traffic through the habitat. I planted the seeds of native plants that we have collected this month. We also have planted several trees. Redbud, oak and spruce trees will benefit all wildlife when they mature.
View of habitat in the fall.
New paver walkway.
Praying mantis in container flowers looking for next meal.
Posted in Habitat, Plants, Pollinators, prairie, Wildlife
- Tagged habitat, insects pollinators, landscape, Native, plants, seeds, wildlife
Common milkweed seeds ready to relocate by the wind.
Another beautiful fall day! It is a perfect day to collect seeds from native plants. Our milkweeds are going to seed, so it is important to collect some before they all go poof in the wind. After collecting the seeds, you can replant them in a new location as soon as possible. They will germinate next spring. If you are saving the seeds, be sure to give them time to dry out completely before you store them. They will rot if not dried properly. Be sure to label the envelope or container you store them in.
Monarch Watch needs milkweed seed donations to continue their Monarch habitat restoration efforts. Monarch Watch is a nonprofit educational outreach program based at the University of Kansas. Visit their website at monarchwatch.org to learn more about their efforts in saving monarch butterflies.
Swamp milkweed seeds.
Posted in Habitat, Plants, Pollinators
- Tagged Bee, butterflies, Entomology, habitat, insect, Native, nature, plants, pollinators, UNL Extension