Yesterday, March 20, was the Spring Equinox. Spring is here and we are so grateful. Nebraska has endured record snow fall and flooding, so we are happy to have sunny spring weather.
Now is a good time to think about what plants you could add to your pollinator habitat. The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification program has an excellent list of spring, summer and fall blooming plants that are native to Nebraska. Look over the impressive plant list and also consider certifying your pollinator habitat. Learn more at this link: https://entomology.unl.edu/pollinator-habitat-certification
Spring blooming plants are important for early pollinators. This morning in the habitat I saw a queen bumblebee on a dandelion flower. Blooming this month we had pasque flower, wild plum, prairie ragwort, peach leaf willow and redbud.
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.
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.
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.
Right now prairie ragwort is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat. It is a wonderful early blooming perennial that is native to Nebraska. It reaches one foot in height and has sunny yellow flowers.
Last Thursday Soni and I spent the day teaching 4th and 5th graders about pollinators at the Outdoor Discovery Program held every year at Platte River State Park hosted by Nebraska Game and Parks. The day started out chilly, but by afternoon we were able to see many pollinators and the kids were able to stretch out in the grassy area and work in their field journals. We found out the attending youth knew what pollination means, what pollinators are and how they are important. What we were able to add to their knowledge was very interesting to them. We discussed native pollinators and showed them nesting bee blocks with the leaf cutter bees still in them ready to emerge. The importance of early blooming plants, like dandelions, which they considered weeds, was a surprise to them. The discussion turned to what food crops needed pollinators to produce, like tomatoes, apples and almonds. By the end of each session, the kids had a better understanding of our native pollinators and how their habitat is important to protect. It was a very fun day for all of us and it is great to partner with Nebraska Game and Parks in youth outdoor education.
Posted in bee house, education, Extension, Habitat, Nest box, solitary bees, spring, youth
- Tagged Education, environment, Extension, habitat, nature, spring, students
What is blooming in the Cherry Creek Pollinator Habitat in April? Today I found pasque flower, wild plum, redbud and dandelions. Yes, we have dandelions in the pollinator habitat. They 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.
Dandelion, see the tiny bee?
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.
Snowdrops blooming in February. Can you find the honeybee?
Spring officially begins with the vernal equinox today. We are so ready for spring weather. Plants are just starting to green up in the habitat. The purple poppy mallow is starting to grow. All winter I have kept the sunflower seed bird feeders and finch sock feeders filled for our habitat bird population. We have seen northern cardinal, American goldfinch, purple finch and dark-eyed junco visiting our feeders. In the evenings, raccoons, skunks, rabbits and deer have been seen on our live cam. We are pleased so much wildlife is visiting our habitat. We look forward to seeing our insect pollinators soon.
Purple poppy mallow growing in the habitat.
Habitat view and bird feeders in early February.