In 2016, U of M Extension Master Gardeners throughout Minnesota planted 24 varieties of annual flowers and observed pollinator activity throughout the summer as part of the 35th annual Master Gardener Seed Trial. Varieties included:
Based on the volunteers’ recorded pollinator observations, the following varieties appeared most attractive to pollinator insects:
- Zinnias were by far the most attractive to
pollinators with a total of 1702 pollinator
visits across the four varieties. Noted varieties included ‘Pop art red & white’ (599 visits and ‘Envy’, a chartreuse flower. Hover flies (634) and native bees (320) were most widely observed on these flowers.
- Attractive marigolds included ‘Bambino’ (413) and ‘Tangerine dream’. Hover flies and native bees visited these varieties equally with approximate equal frequency.
- Salvia varieties (1024 total pollinator visits) that were most attractive to pollinators included ‘Coral Nymph’ (349 visits, 50% by hover flies) and ‘White swan clary sage’ (238).
- Attractive Rudbeckia varieties were ‘Irish eyes’ (543) and ‘Orange fudge’ (238).Hover flies and native bees comprised the majority of visitors (940 total pollinator visits).
- Sunflower variety ‘Lemon Queen’ (348) was visited most often and almost equally by honey, bumble and native bees. Sunflowers overall had 785 total visits.
- Snapdragons were the least visited of all varieties (436). The variety ‘Chantilly cream yellow’ was the least visited of all 24 varieties observed (73 visits, approximately 50% hover flies).