Become a Smarter Gardener in 2019: Plant pollinator-friendly spring bulbs!
October 04, 2019
|Spring crocus. Photo: Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension|
Are you thinking of planting some spring bulbs this fall? You might think about planting several kinds of bulbs which attract pollinators. These early flowering bulbs are sometimes the only flowers out in early spring and provide critical food for pollinators--particularly honeybees.
What spring bulbs are best? Here are the latest results of a new study.
Plant survival & pollinator attraction
This new study out of the University of Arkansas primarily looked into how long these spring bulbs lasted over a three-year period when planted in several different kinds of lawn grass. But it also studied the number of pollinators attracted to these bulbs.
Researchers found that fewer spring bulbs survived when they were planted in turf made up of bermuda grass (too much plant competition). But they did better and lasted longer when they were planted in buffalograss (see Table 1).
So let's translate these results for all of us who garden in Minnesota: While neither of these grass species are common in our home lawns, Kentucky bluegrass might provide similar conditions to bermuda grass and fine fescues may show competitiveness similar to buffalograss. So in other words, if you like to plant your bulbs in the grass? They're going to do better planted in a lawn made up of fine fescues.
As for the number of pollinators? Several bulbs, primarily crocuses and grape hyacinth, were observed to attract pollinating insects, principally honeybees. See the varieties rated the highest in the table below: