We gaze out over a bed of bright colorful flowers and enjoy their beauty. Bees are buzzing about while butterflies flutter from blossom to blossom. The serene picturesque scene is so peaceful and lovely. But wait! There is much more going on out there than we imagine. The flowers are very busily involved in botanical hanky-panky!
Most flowers have male and female parts and need to fertilize nearby flowers. The flowers are involved in sexual reproduction so seeds, or their off spring can be produced. Flowers are the sexual organs of the plant. Simplistically many flowers have Stamens, the male part of the flower that produces pollen. Pollen is the dusty part of the flower that can rub off on your hands. Lily pollen, in particular can stain skin and clothing. The Pistil is the female part of the plant. The Pistil includes the tip or the Stigma where the pollen is deposited to fertilize the flower. Below the Stigma, deep within the flower is the Ovary where seeds are produced. Some flowers can pollinate themselves, while others need the pollen to be transferred from flower to flower.
Many flowers need help in making babies, so that is where insects, birds, butterflies and bees get involved. Many flowers produce nectar, a sweet sugary substance that attracts bees, butterflies, birds and other insects. While drinking the tasty nectar they get the pollen on their feet and deposit it in other flowers to fertilize them.
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Bees in particular are attracted to the nectar and are vital for the fertilization of many flowers and crops. In recent years a mite has been killing and sharply reducing the number of honey bees. Across the country bee clubs have been setting up bee boxes to increase the number of bees. In Pickaway County The Scioto Valley Beekeepers Association is a very active group promoting the importance of bees. SciotoValleyBeeKeepers.com
Surprisingly it is the old fashion favorite flowers that attracts the bees and butterflies. Below is a small sampling of flowers that will bring the birds and bees, and butterflies to your garden!
Ageratum, Cosmos, Mexican Sunflower, Milkweed, Pentas, Verbena, Zinnia, Nasturtium, Pansies, Asters, Bee Balm, Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower, Goldenrod, Penstemon, Peony, Garden Phlox, Salvia, Sedum, Snapdragon, Sunflower, Herbs, Mint, Lavender, Basil, Foxglove, Crocus, Heliotrope and many others.
(Note: Many feel it is best to plant natural or heirloom flowers for pollinators and avoid hybridized plants because bees and butterflies do not care for them.)
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The next time you sit in your lawn chair sipping an ice tea overlooking the serenity of your garden, enjoy the amorous results of the flowers and the birds and the bees!
Ask the Gardener
If you have any gardening questions you would like to ask Rick or topics you would love to see him cover please feel free to drop him a note and ASK THE GARDENER here.
Born and raised in Ohio Rick presently lives in an old house in a small central Ohio town, famous for its giant gourds. Rick comes from a family of avid gardeners. Now retired, he had the privilege to work with people with disabilities for over thirty years. His tiny city garden is crammed with an assortment or a collection of plants. During the long cold Ohio winters he continues gardening in the house and in his small backyard greenhouse. He is passionate about plants and writing. In his youth he traveled the world. The diversity of plants around the world is amazing! He especially enjoyed my time teaching in a bush school in Africa and spending a summer with the legendary Masai Tribe on the Serengeti Plain. For years, he has enjoyed the study of the ancient uses for plants and herbs. Many cultures today still believe in the magical qualities of plants. Grow a tomato, a tree, or plant some tulip bulbs, or grow some herbs in your kitchen window. It will make you feel good and you will be making our world a better place!