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Mr. Smarty Plants - Bee-friendly perennials for Texas

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Saturday - March 19, 2011

From: College Station, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildlife Gardens
Title: Bee-friendly perennials for Texas
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

What plants native to east-central TX (College Station, 77840) will attract honeybees? I have a small "yard" behind my condo. I'd like to plant flowering perennials that will support local bee populations. I'm not an avid gardener, so I'm interested in something that will support the bees w/out a lot of work from me.

ANSWER:

You are doing a real service to support our bees at a time when mysterious factors are causing their decline. But beware, watching bees can become addictive. There are many very interesting native bees in addition to the common honeybee. A useful website to describe this is sponsored by the Texas Bee Watchers. There you can find several lists of flowering plants favored by bees. The best strategy is to have some plants blooming at all possible times so that it is not a feast or famine situation for the bees. Even in winter bees are attracted to blooms of the non-native Rosemary(Rosemarinus officinalis). Native plants blooming in the early spring include Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) and Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud). A bit later come Tradescantia gigantea (Giant spiderwort) and Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana (Hinckley's golden columbine). Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)(not a perennial) and Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose) follow in April. Species holding their blossoms for some time in the summer include Wedelia texana (Zexmenia), Lantana urticoides (Texas lantana) and Eysenhardtia texana (Texas kidneywood). Texas kidneywood is a bee magnet in central Texas, and may also thrive in College Station. In the autumn Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed), Symphyotrichum oblongifolium (Aromatic aster) and Solidago nemoralis (Gray goldenrod) will kick in. These are but a few of the many bee-friendly plants native to Texas. Check out the growing conditions on these examples by clicking on the species names. None of them should require a great deal of work once they start growing.

 

From the Image Gallery


Agarita
Mahonia trifoliolata

Texas redbud
Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Giant spiderwort
Tradescantia gigantea

Hinckley's golden columbine
Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana

Texas bluebonnet
Lupinus texensis

Pink evening primrose
Oenothera speciosa

Zexmenia
Wedelia texana

Texas lantana
Lantana urticoides

Aromatic aster
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium

Gray goldenrod
Solidago nemoralis

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Texas kidneywood
Eysenhardtia texana

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