Pollinator Gardens

by Suzy Freeman

I am often surprised by how frequently a customer asks me to show them plants to will attract butterflies, but doesn’t want them to attract bees. Any insect that comes with a barbed stinger on its backside, usually isn’t the first invited guest to a picnic. I suspect most folks are concerned that they, or someone in their household, might get stung. Being stung is certainly unpleasant and somewhat painful,  but did you know that when a honey bee stings anything, the action literally tears its body apart, and the bee dies? I’m sure they would prefer NOT stinging on any day. Bees ONLY sting when they feel threatened. Walking around and enjoying one’s flowers is not considered a threat to the bee. On the contrary, swatting at or sudden aggressive movements near a bee may cause it to give you a “warning” by jabbing at you with its body in flight (without actually stinging – honeybees), or by “buzzing” loudly around you (without stinging – bumble bees). By the way, male bumble bees don’t even have a stinger!

This blogger thinks that bees have been given a bad rap. Bees have so many beneficial traits! Did you know they pollinate about 30% of the human food supply? Foods that include such basics as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, fruit trees, nut trees, and even fiber like cotton, and much more! Without their pollination, many of these foods would eventually just die out. Without bees, we would have very poor quality of coffee, cocoa, cabbage, onions, tomatoes and peppers. Lemons, pears, and cashews, seeds and clover, alfalfa grown to feed livestock depend heavily on bee pollination. AND, what kind of world would it be if we didn’t have honey for our morning toast?

Bees in the hive are a remarkably social organism, where every bee has her own task. Honey bees are also quite docile, and when approached slowly, one can observe them without ever wearing a bee suit. Did you know that beekeepers find it relaxing to observe their bees at the hive? Thank heavens for those guys, right?

Bees are one of the most valuable pollinators in the insect kingdom and if you wish to attract butterflies only ­– planting lovely specimens to bring them into your environment ­– you should accept that bees will come too.  Bees will take your pollinator garden as a great place for a “free lunch.” Your pollinator garden supports the survival of bees. Just remember that there is a way to “be around bees:” 1. No sudden movements; 2. Give them a little space when they are collecting nectar; and 3.  No swatting!

Here are some plants guaranteed to attract multiple pollinators to your garden:

  • Anise hyssop
  • Bee balm (monarda)
  • Butterfly weed
  • Butterfly bush
  • Coreopsis
  • Coneflower
  • Salvia
  • Asters
  • Veronica
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Basil
  • Rue
  • Sage

There are hundreds more options from which you can choose. For a look at a small pollinator garden, check out the demonstration tables in our Perennial section or stop in and ask for Suzy ­– I’d love to help you! And remember, Frazee Gardens has everything you need to get your pollinator garden started including soil, root stimulator, plants, pots, gloves, and shovels!

Suzy Freeman is a long-time gardener and home beekeeper for 6 years. She has been helping customers create beautiful homes for 3 years. Her favorite plants to attract pollinators are hyssop (agastache) and coneflowers (echinacea).

 

Suzy Freeman is a long-time gardener and home beekeeper for 6 years. She has been helping customers create beautiful homes for 3 years. Her favorite plants to attract pollinators are hyssop (agastache) and coneflowers (echinacea).

 

National Pollinator Week


The bees are enjoying the perennials at Frazee Gardens during National Pollinator Week!

Earlier this year, the announcement that the North American bumble bee had been added to the endangered species list was a wake-up call for many Americans. Bees and other pollinators play a critical role in our ecosystem. So, in honor of National Pollinator Week (June 19 – 25, 2017), we’d like to share a few fun facts about pollinators:

  • Pollination is a vital stage in the life cycle of all flowering plants in which pollen is moved within a flower, or carried from one flower to another of the same species, which leads to fertilization. This process is necessary to ensure healthy and productive plants within a native ecosystem.
  • Most pollinators are beneficial insects such as flies, beetles, wasps, ants, butterflies, moths and bees.
  • About 75% of all flowering plant species need the help of animals to move their heavy pollen grains from plant to plant for fertilization.
  • In the U.S., pollination produces nearly $20 billion worth of products each year.
  • Frazee Gardens carries many native pollinators that you can plant and grow right here in central Indiana to help make a positive impact on pollinator health and habitats. Stop in and ask our expert staff about some of our perennials that are great for pollinators.

Resources online about Pollinators:
Indiana State Department of Agriculture
Pollinator Partnership

>>Check out our Weekend Sale for a great deal on Perennials, which are great for pollinators, and much more!

Quick Tip: Time To Fertilize

An Indiana summer can bring a variety of weather any given week. We can go from mild and rainy to hot and dry virtually overnight, which can make it challenging to keep your flowers in tip-top shape.

The best thing you can do for your flowers is to help them develop a hearty root system. Using a good fertilizer every 7-14 days is a good rule of thumb and is going to help your roots grow stronger and yield greener leaves, more flowers, larger blooms, etc.

Here in Indiana, we have found that ferti-lome® Blooming and Rooting Soluble Plant Food 9-58-8 works really well for flowering shrubs, trees, roses, orchids — really all blooming and fruit bearing plants. This is a tried-and-true product we carry at Frazee Gardens and use on our flowers, plants, shrubs, veggies and fruits on a regular basis.

Along with fertilizing, another great reminder is to give your flowers and plants a “hair cut” from time to time. As your plant continues to grow, it is sending all its nutrients to the flowers at the end of the vine, and the rest of the plant has a hard time keeping up and staying healthy. By cutting back, you are allowing the rest of the plant to catch up and it will flush back out fuller and healthier than before.

We hope these tips and reminders will help you keep your plants and flowers looking their best.

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