Cup plant is a native perennial that is 3-6 feet tall with numerous large, yellow composite flowers. The leaves are joined at stem to form a small cup that holds water that attracts insects and birds. We have several cup plants in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It started flowering in early July and is still blooming. This would be a great addition to any pollinator habitat.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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
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. Plant Milkweed
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. No Chemicals
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. “Bee” Involved
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.
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.
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.