Gardening with Sam: Learn more about the blooms and the bees

Take a deep dive into how flower pollination works. There’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

First, let’s review a little pollination vocabulary.

  • Anther: the male part of the flower that produces pollen
  • Filaments: stalks that support the anthers
  • Stigma: base for pollen
  • Style: female part of the flower that connects stigma to flower
  • Stamen: the sum of anther and filament

Playing the part of matchmakers are the pollinators. Bees, butterflies and birds become unwitting cupids when they visit flowers for food.

To attract more pollinators, grow a diverse variety of plants native to your area. Here are a few great options:

  • Bee Balm. This summer favorite easily attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
  • Milkweed. It’s not just for monarchs. Many varieties of this perennial offer attractive nectar sources.
  • Catmint. With long-lived blooms, catmint entices plenty of pollinators and is deer resistant.
  • Sedum. This flower offers nectar for tons of pollinators all summer long.
  • Penstemon. A wide array of kinds and hues make this tough perennial one to try.
  • Zinnias. Old-fashioned in the garden of our past, zinnias feature very strong stems. Butterflies and birds love the beautiful blooms of all colors, large, small and medium. They are great to cut and place on your porch or summer table for a splash of color.

So how do these bees, butterflies, bugs and birds become unwitting cupids when they visit flowers for food?

Some pollinators eat parts of the flower itself. Others seek the sugar-rich nectar of the protein and amino acid-packed pollen, either to eat themselves or collect for their offspring.

Flowers are designed to woo specific pollinators. For instance, bees and butterflies tend to swarm flowers with sweet aromas, but blooms that rely on hummingbirds for pollination typically have no scent and rely solely on color. Red would be the most common.

Next time you see a bee light on a flower, stop and think about all the pollinators have to do with our gardens to make them reproduce more flowers.

May I talk a little about woodpeckers?

They make a lot of noise and will peck holes in your house. Sometimes hanging CDs on a string in the area where you see or hear them will help. Fake spiders will also work for a while, but woodpeckers are smart; they know they are not real and will start pecking again.

Sometimes if you put a sheet of metal around a post in your yard, the will go to that and not peck your house up.

Woodpeckers use the drumming as a form of communication. One bird might drum 8,000 times a day. A downy woodpecker typically strikes 16 times per second.

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