Resolutions to Help Pollinators

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
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
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.
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.

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

Annual Flowers

Annual flowers are an important addition to a pollinator habitat. They bloom all summer and into the fall. They fill the void if your habitat is new and the perennial flowers are not blooming yet. Sulphur cosmos,  larkspur, blue salvia, gomphrena, sweet alyssum, zinnia and sunflower are just a few annual flowers to add to your landscape to help pollinators.

MJ Frogge

Husker Red

Blooming now in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat is Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ ‘Husker Red’ grows 2 to 3 feet tall. The flowers are white with a pink tinge. The foliage is a stunning burgundy. It does best in well-drained soils and full sun. This plant ‘Husker Red’ was introduced by the University of Nebraska. It was selected as the 1996 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association.

MJ Frogge

PenstemondigHRed

Spring Flowering Bulbs

One of my favorite plants is blooming now, Snowdrops! This stunning and tough little flower benefits pollinators. If the temperature is above 4o degrees F when it is blooming, you will find honey bees visiting these delightful flowers.

Other spring flowering bulbs that benefit pollinators include Glory-of-the-Snow and Crocus. Consider planting these bulbs this fall in your pollinator habitat.

MJ Frogge

snowdrops

Snowdrops blooming in February. Can you find the honeybee?

Perennial Plant of the Year-It’s a Native!

butterflymilkweed2

Butterfly milkweed

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.

MJ Frogge

Winter has come to the Habitat

Insect hotel in pollinator habitat.

Insect hotel in pollinator habitat.

Close up view of insect hotel.

Close up view of insect hotel.

Winter is here. This fall we built our insect hotel and filled it with natural materials that we collected. It takes alot to fill an insect hotel of this size.  We collected pine cones, logs, twigs and carefully filled each layer of the hotel.  Rolled corrugated cardboard and egg cartons 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. Hollow stems like bamboo and blocks of wood with drilled holes are for solitary bees to nest. We are so excited for spring. I can’t wait for our plants & seeds to grow and see who moves into the insect hotel. We have much more to do next year, but for now we will enjoy the snow.

MJ

Insect hotel in November before snow.

Insect hotel in November before snow.