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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - August 12, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Native plants to attract bees for vegetable garden
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I'm looking for native plants that can help attract bees around my vegetable garden to help with pollination. What recommendations do you have?

ANSWER:

Bees, honey bees and native solitary bees, are especially attracted to plants in the aster family (Family Asteraceae), buckwheat family (Family Polygonaceae), and mint family (Family Lamiaceae). Here are some suggestions for plants native to Travis County, Texas that are good bee attractors:

Asteraceae

Coreopsis tinctoria (golden tickseed)

Helianthus annuus (common sunflower)

Rudbeckia hirta (blackeyed Susan)

Echinacea angustifolia (blacksamson echinacea)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Polygonaceae

Eriogonum longifolium (longleaf buckwheat)

Eriogonum multiflorum (heartsepal buckwheat)

Lamiaceae

Monarda citriodora (lemon beebalm)

Salvia coccinea (blood sage)

Salvia farinacea (mealycup sage)

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has a list of bee attracting plants where you can find more suggestions for plants for your garden. Please realize that all those plants on the list are not native to your area and, indeed, some are not even native to North America. For a list of plants native Travis County, visit the web page of the Austin chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas.

For a discussion of the mysterious disappearance of honeybees (Apis mellifera), there is an excellent article, Stung, by Elizabeth Kolbert, in the August 6, 2007 issue of the New Yorker.


Coreopsis tinctoria

Helianthus annuus

Rudbeckia hirta

Echinacea angustifolia

Solidago nemoralis

Eriogonum multiflorum

Monarda citriodora

Salvia coccinea

Salvia farinacea

 

 

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