Posts Tagged ‘pollinators’

Marigolds Attract Pollinators

Saturday, October 29th, 2016
Marigold and Bee

Marigold and Bee

About five years ago I bought a flat of marigolds at a garden show in Rockford, Illinois. The flat cost only five dollars. I presumed the marigolds were neither organic nor open pollinated, but they looked strong and there were a lot of plants for the money. I thought I would stick marigolds at the ends of the raised beds to add some easy and quick color.

Marigolds in the Beds

Marigolds in the Beds

This was in June. The plants performed well and bloomed until hard freezes came. They put out seed heads with lots of viable seeds meaning they were open-pollinated, not a hybrid variety. On a whim I saved some seed and replanted it the following spring. Marigolds are slow to germinate and the germination rate on these seeds wasn’t great, but I still got a lot of new plants from which I’ve continued to save seed and replant.

Marigolds Everywhere

Marigolds Everywhere

Both the seeds and the plants I’m growing now seem more vigorous than the first ones I planted. Marigolds are adaptable, which means they improve their hardiness over time in a new environment. I went overboard this year and ended up with several hundred seedlings, most of which I replanted all around the garden.

Bee and Marigolds

Bee and Marigolds

The marigolds are proving to be great for their ability to attract and feed pollinating insects right up to and through the early frosts. They continue to provide heavy blooms offering pollen and nectar as well or better than just about any garden flower this late in the season. Marigolds are also touted as having beneficial properties when grown alongside tomatoes and other vegetables and their roots are supposed to be soil cleaning, eliminating certain bad root nematodes.

Bee on Marigold

Bee on Marigold

Moth on Marigold

Moth on Marigold


I found numerous articles on the Internet claiming marigolds are a bee repellent and not attractive or useful to pollinators, but there are even more articles debunking the “bad marigold” claims. While there may be some hybrid or double blossom marigolds which may not attract or be useful to pollinators, I can attest that bees love marigolds as do numerous other insects. I have often found the blossoms swarming with various flies, moths and butterflies.

Bumblebee on Marigold

Bumblebee on Marigold

Marigolds are very useful when used as an herbal and they are edible. So why not grow some? They’re too good and too easy not to.

It’s National Pollinator Week!

Friday, June 24th, 2016
Fly on Cilantro.

Fly on Cilantro.

National Pollinator Week is a USDA sponsored event with the main focus of improving the health of pollinators, primarily, honeybees.  I appreciate their efforts, but if the USDA really wanted to improve pollinator health, they would get out of their agri-business practices that are most responsible for loss of pollinator friendly ecosystems.  Anyway, celebrating pollinators is a good thing, so we’ll contribute by featuring some of our local pollinating friends.

There are a lot more pollinators out there than just honeybees.  The home gardener, particularly, can get along just fine without ever having a European type honey bee, the kind used by the agricultural industry and the honey industry, visit their property.  We see quite a few European honeybees, I presume from hives in the area, but most of my pollinators are the wild type.  I rate bumblebees as our number one friend.  Bumblebees are prolific here, with many varieties showing up, but I’ve chosen to show off a few other creatures that also do their part.

At the top is a fly on some flowering cilantro.  I’ve found cilantro to be an excellent attractor to pollinating insects, so I let it bolt and flower as often as I can.

Ant on Cilantro

Ant on Cilantro

Ants are important pollinators.

Cabbage Moth

Cabbage Moth

I don’t like this guy at all, but almost all moths and butterflies do contribute to the pollination of garden plants.

Damselfly

Damselfly

There is discussion on whether damselflies and dragonflies are important or possibly negative in the pollination scheme.  They do contribute a little to pollination, but they probably eat up more pollinating insects than their pollinating efforts offset.  They eat a lot of bad bugs, however, and they sure are cool looking.

Wasp on Cilantro

Wasp on Cilantro

Wasps are very important pollinators, but watch out, they don’t make good pets!

Wasp on Sumac

Wasp on Sumac

Wasp on Wild Aster

Wasp on Wild Aster

I like the wild aster, I’m not keen on sumac, but flowering weeds support a lot of insects.

Small Bee on Potato Blossom

Small Bee on Potato Blossom

We get a lot of bees that are not your typical honeybee.  Here’s a little bitty bee on a potato blossom.

Bees do It

Bees do It

Love makes the world go round.

Bee on Cilantro

Bee on Cilantro

My, what big eyes you have!

Bee on Mustard

Bee on Mustard

A metallic blue bee.

Small Bee on Cilantro

Small Bee on Cilantro

We see numerous varieties of small bees along with many other pollinating animals.  We try to provide plants they like, and having a National Pollinator Week to get people to understand the importance of pollination is actually a very good idea.