Pink Suntastic Bicolor sunflower … pollen-less, yet attractive

Though advertised as pollen-less, bees are still finding this sunflower irresistible. Perhaps there are nectar rewards. I watched the bee for quite a while to see if it stopped for a “big gulp”, but it seemed to just be searching and hoping to find.20170711_120523

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Video: Honey bee on dwarf yellow spray sunflower

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F4P Living Lab and survey

Visitors to the St. Paul campus will find the Flowers for Pollinators garden in the Horticultural Science Display Garden at Gortner and Folwell avenues. Stop by throughout the summer and observe the interactions of pollinators and plants. Be part of the study by recording your observations on a survey.

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Bugs are Buzzing: F4P at HMR

Annuals are blooming, and bugs are buzzing at the HMR Flowers for Pollinators site. Because there are many native, and some non-native perennials surrounding our plants here, we know it’s a big deal when insects choose our flowers.

So far I’ve seen many native bees and flies enjoying the flowers of Salvia coccinea var. Coral Nymph. S. coccinea has unique stamen that protrude far from the flower. In some cases the pollinator burrows deep inside the bloom for nectar, while pollen from the long stamen is deposited unknowingly on the insect’s back. However, below we see a Green Sweat Bee who seems to be more interested in pollen than nectar – he dangles directly from the flower’s long stamen, and is covered in fluffy Salvia pollen. Many flies have also been using S. coccinea flowers to sun themselves, similar to the one pictured below.


Other critters have shown interest in various annuals planted at HMR. Melampodium ‘Showstar’ has been a popular choice for native bees, while Cosmos ‘Double Click’ and Marigold (Tagetes) ‘Bambino’ seem to be attracting an odd variety of caterpillars so far this summer. I’ll be keeping an eye on those and other flowers with the hopes that a wide variety of pollinators will enjoy the gifts they have to offer.


It’s been very exciting to observe all the insects on our annuals so far this summer. I look forward to sharing more with you all soon!


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How this all got started: Pollinator counts in 2015 at the Arboretum

Contributed by Mary H. Meyer, Extension horticulturist and Professor, U of M

Total insect counts on four zinnia cultivars and six salvia species or cultivars were taken at two locations during July-September 2015 (minimum of 1IMG_10478 counts/days at each location) in the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Chaska, MN and the University of Minnesota campus Display and Trial Garden in St Paul, MN. A block of plants 6-12 plants per cultivar were planted in full sun in late May or early June.

Insects were counted on flowers (assumed to be pollinators) and included honeybees, bumblebees, ants, butterflies, native bees, flies and other insects. Four different people did the counts.salvia zinnia final 2015 summary for 2017 website

Counting pollinators on 15 annual flowers
In the summer of 2015, pollinator counts were taken from June 15-July 23, 2015 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum annual display garden. There were 23 collection times; all counts were taken by one person who counted pollinator insects on the following 15 annuals. Flowers are listed in order of pollinator visits. Michelle Wisdom, a student intern at the Arboretum in 2015, collected this data.


Pollinator counts 2015 for Y&G Blog


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2017 F4P sites planted!

It’s been a busy time – and the weather kept throwing us curve balls! – but we have the three 2017 Flowers for Pollinators sites planted!

Horticulture Display Garden – U of M West Central Research and Outreach Center, Morris, MN – Located on the prairie of west central Minnesota, this garden was voted the best public display garden Morris logoin Minnesota by WCCO. Thanks to Steve Poppe, research scientist and overseer of the display garden, the F4P planting is located smack-dab in the center of the garden just off the main drive. WCROC staffer, Joe Knight, is overseeing the F4P garden. The F4P site in Morris is a free-standing bed that includes a mulched path and central seating area where visitors can be surrounded by the (hopefully!) buzzing of our pollinator audience!


Flowers for Pollinators site, Horticulture Display Garden, WCROC, Morris, MN. Planted 6/6/17

Horst M. Rechelbacher Farm, Osceola, WI – Known primarily for his creation of AVEDA, the late Horst Rechelbacher was a conservationist. He and his family opened their 360-acre property in Osceola to the University of Minnesota Bee Squad in hopes of helping research, teaching and outreach about conserving pollinators and preserving our priaries, woodlands and waterways. The F4P planting has the rock star location of bordering the foundation planting around the newly-renovated spa building where is it managed by Plant Squad staffer and U of M horticulture grad, Lindsey Miller, and HRM gardener Cheryl Elliott.


The F4P garden borders perennials along the Spa. Planted 6/12/17.

Horticulture Display Garden – U of M St. Paul campus – A Living Laboratory! Thanks to the Department of Horticultural Science, I was able to plant the third F4P site in the often visited Horticultural Science Display Garden. Earlier posts on this blog identified the 3rd F4P site as the 3rd floor courtyard of the Mayo Building on the East Bank of the U of M. After closer inspection, I found this site did not meet the planting space requirements for a F4P site (250-300 sq ft) having only raised beds totaling only about 85 sq ft. This planting is part of the Living Laboratory program sponsored by U of M Facilities Management / LandCare.


New location: Hort Science Display Garden, St. Paul campus. Planted 6/9/17

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Happy birthday, Carl Linnaeus!

Born May 23, 1707, in Stenbrohult, in the province of Småland in southern Sweden (1),

Solanum lycopersicum Virginia Sweets fruit2

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.)

Carolus Linnaeus is considered the father of modern taxonomy and the creator of the binomial naming system. What does that mean? Without his classification system, we would be calling a tomato Solanum caule inermi herbaceo, foliis pinnatis incisis, meaning ‘solanum with the smooth stem which is herbaceous and has incised pinnate leaves’. Under Linnaeus’ method, the tomato is simply Solanum lycopersicum (2). When you see an “L.” after a Latin name, this indicates it was named by none other than Linnaeus.


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