- The Importance of Fruit Tree Pollination
- Self-Pollinating Apple Trees: An Easy Way to Grow Apples!
- Granny Smith Apple Tree
- Pick Apples This Year – Four Years Sooner!
- Planting & Care
- Granny Smith Apples
- Self-Fruiting Apple Trees: Learn About Apples That Pollinate Themselves
- Can Apples Self-Pollinate?
- Varieties of Self-Pollinating Apples
- What Is Self-Fruitful In Gardens: Learn About Self-Pollinating Fruit
- How Does Self-Pollination of Fruit Trees Work?
- Yard and Garden: Examining Pollination in Apple Trees
- How does this pollination stuff work anyway?
- Pollen Nation – Supporting Pollinators
The Importance of Fruit Tree Pollination
How important is proper fruit tree pollination? Without pollination, fruit will not develop. Here are our recommendations for ensuring proper pollination.
“Let me tell you about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees” — that tune would date some of us who were teens in the 60’s. When you think about it, there have been a staggering number of important advances over the last 100 years in travel, appliances and communication. The field of gardening and growing has also seen some significant advances in our increasing knowledge and understanding of plants. Although there are varieties of fruit trees that were grown and named hundreds of years ago, there was still a great lack of understanding. If we knew then what we know now, we would be much further down the road of fruit production. One of these significant developments has been learning more about today’s topic — the importance of fruit tree pollination.
What is ‘Fruit Tree Pollination’?
Fruit tree pollination equates to sexual reproduction and fruit development. Without pollination, fruit trees would not bear fruit. After pollination, the pollen germinates once it’s transferred from the stamen (male) to the pistil (female). This results in fertilization*, and the seed develops. Bees play a huge role in the process! *not to be confused with fertilizers, which add elements to the soil.
Fruit trees fit into the following categories
- Self-Pollinating — trees that do not need another to complete the pollination process. Most apricots, nectarines, peaches and sour cherries are typical examples of self-pollinating trees.
- Requiring a Pollinator — trees that need to be pollinated by another variety of tree. Most apples, pears, plums and sweet cherries are typical examples of this type of tree.
It’s also good to know that, while some trees are self-pollinating, they might have greater success when they are cross-pollinated with another. For optimal results from fruit tree pollination, I recommend setting up a pollinating scheme.
Some pollination guidance
- Plant at least two compatible-pollen varieties within 50 feet of one another. Pollination will still occur if trees are planted closer together, and may even occur between trees planted farther apart than this, but, for ideal pollination, a 50-foot distance between trees is good to aim for.
- Make sure you plant varieties that bloom in the same season. Our fruit trees page lists a few of the most recommended pollinators for each specific variety, while keeping in mind bloom times, so that choosing a pollinator for the variety you’re interested in is an easy task.
- The key to proper fruit tree pollination is timing. Any early-season variety will pollinate another early-season variety, and the same holds true for mid- and late-season varieties. On average, the bloom time for most compatible trees will overlap enough for pollination, but, if you’re only planting 2 trees, it’s best to plant trees that will bloom at the same time.
One more thing to note when dealing with the pollination of fruit trees, particularly apple trees, is the difference between diploids and triploids. Most apple varieties are diploids (two sets of chromosomes). Read about triploid apples here. There are several other important factors that go into successful fruit-tree growing, and none of them are really hard to understand. We could discuss proper light, location, pruning, spraying, and many other aspects essential to fruit growing; however, without fruit tree pollination, they’re all secondary discussions! So make sure your trees and plants are properly pollinated to ensure successful fruit-growing. — Elmer Kidd, Stark Bro’s Chief Production Officer (retired)
Shop all Fruit Trees “
- Article Categories:
- Fruit Tree Care
- Frequently Asked Questions
Self-Pollinating Apple Trees: An Easy Way to Grow Apples!
If you long to diversify your land by planting an apple tree, you will find that most apple varieties require cross-pollination by honeybees in order to bear fruit. This requires planting at least two different apple tree varieties close to one another. But you might want to plant one tree, since a single tree will provide enough apples for your family to regularly munch (plus plenty for treats like apple pie or cobbler). Apples are a great nutritious food to have on hand, as a University of Illinois study shows. The fruit’s soluble fiber strengthens immune systems and reduces obesity-related illnesses. And best of all, apple trees are a low-maintenance way to ensure free food for years ahead!
However, those of you living in an urban or suburban area with only a small yard might not want to crowd your space with multiple trees bearing the same fruit, unless you have plenty of neighbors ready to feast on your surplus of extra apples! In this case, you should look into self-fertile varieties, which pollinate themselves — taking away the burden of planting two trees in the same area. Some self-fertile varieties include Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Granny Smith, and Scrumptious. Check the Home Orchard Society for a more thorough breakdown of self-fruitful varieties — there are quite a few.
Keep in mind, however, that even self-fertile apple varieties will bear more fruit if cross-pollinated. Although a self-pollinating apple tree’s produce will be heartier than a typical variety planted alone, you will almost always get the most apples from cross-pollinating varieties.
If you have a small space but love fruit trees, also consider planting a pear tree, since a few pear varieties will yield fruit with no need for cross-breeding (though, as with apple trees, you will have more pears if you do cross-pollinate). For pears, try Anjou and Bartlett. Apricots usually aren’t self-fruitful, but a few varieties that are include Tilton, Wenatchee, Royal and Moorpark. Sour cherry trees are always self-fruitful, while sweet cherries are not. Research fruit tree pollination about selecting fruit trees and read our expert advice on purchasing fruit and nut trees from nurseries or by mail order.
Photo by Peggy Greb/USDA
Granny Smith Apple Tree
Pick Apples This Year – Four Years Sooner!
Why Granny Smith Apple Trees?
Our Granny Smith Apple Tree is known for its quick production and easy growth. In fact, it produces fruit in record time, so you’ll pick delicious apples this year.
You’ll get unique tart flavor, effortlessly. Our Granny Smith doesn’t need harsh pesticides or even a specific soil type to thrive. You get adaptable, versatile growth and delectable Granny Smith Apples to use in snacks, desserts and more.
Plus, our Granny Smith is self-fertile. That means you get fruit with only one tree, though adding an additional Granny Smith in your garden results in a dramatically increased crop for you. Imagine tons of delicious apples, season after season, in your own backyard.
Why Fast-Growing-Trees.com is Better
Many nurseries sell tall, skinny stems that can take several years to fruit and will generally be less productive when mature. But our Granny Smiths are pruned back and trained to develop a branching structure. This process takes more work and an extra year, but the difference you experience is dramatic. Because more branches mean more fruit, earlier production, stronger limbs and a healthier tree. Some of our apple trees have already produced apples in our nursery!
Now, you reap the rewards. And with proper care, you’ll be able to start picking apples in the first year. Get your own Granny Smith Apple Tree and see its amazing growth for yourself!
Planting & Care
1. Planting: First, select a location that receives at least 6 hours of sun each day. Other than that, your Granny Smith adapts to a variety of soil types. Once you’re ready to plant, dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep. Then, place your tree, tamp down the soil and water to settle the soil. Finally, mulch around the tree for best results.
*Tip: Make sure your mulch is not touching the base of the trunk.
2. Watering: Your Granny Smith Apple will benefit from a regular watering schedule each week, though you may need to water more often in times of extreme heat or drought. If you’re not sure when to water, simply check the soil or look for new growth. As soon as you see newer growth coming out of the tree or whenever the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry, it’s time to water.
3. Pruning: Once your tree has become established and is starting to bear fruit, it will need some periodic, moderate pruning. Only prune the tree during times of dormancy, making sure to remove any vigorous, upright stems which are quite common in the upper portion of the tree. Weak, damaged or dead branches should also be removed.
39.95 Fast Growing Trees apple trees attract bees deer attracting trees shrubs heirloom apple trees large trees northern apple trees overstock sale Pack Planting Kit Top 100 Tree Spikes western apple trees //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0059/8835/2052/products/Granny_Smith_Apple_Tree_450_MAIN.jpg?v=1549642624 //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0059/8835/2052/products/Granny_Smith_Apple_Tree_450.jpg?v=1549642624 //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0059/8835/2052/products/Granny_Smith_Apple_Tree_4501.jpg?v=1549642624 //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0059/8835/2052/products/Granny_Smith_Apple_Tree_4503.jpg?v=1549642624 //cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0059/8835/2052/products/Granny_Smith_Apple_Tree_4504.jpg?v=1549642624 13940764573748 2-3 ft. 29.95 39.95 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=13940764573748 OutOfStock 2-3 ft. 13940764606516 3-4 ft. 59.95 59.95 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=13940764606516 OutOfStock 3-4 ft. 13940764639284 4-5 ft. 67.95 79.95 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=13940764639284 InStock 4-5 ft. 13940764672052 5-6 ft. 99.95 99.95 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=13940764672052 InStock 5-6 ft. 13940764704820 6-7 ft. 119.95 119.95 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=13940764704820 InStock 6-7 ft. 14378710761524 Pollinator Pack 219.95 239.90 //cdn.shopify.com/s/assets/no-image-2048-5e88c1b20e087fb7bbe9a3771824e743c244f437e4f8ba93bbf7b11b53f7824c.gif https://www.fast-growing-trees.com/products/grannysmith?variant=14378710761524 InStock Pollinator Pack
Granny Smith Apples
The Granny Smith Apple (Malus domestica) may just be one of Australia’s luckiest discoveries
Who is Granny Smith?
The Granny Smith apple was in fact ‘invented’ (per chance) by Granny Smith. Granny Smith (or Maria Ann Smith – but we can all call her Granny) was an English migrant who arrived in Australia in 1830. Granny Smith discarded some rotten Tasmanian French Crab apples into a creek near her home in Ryde (Sydney) in 1868, not to know that the seeds would germinate and become one of the most popular apples worldwide (not such a bad apple afterall?). The seeds are believed to have crossed with the Cleopatra to produce the unique fruit. After literally stumbling upon the new variety, Granny Smiths apple took off, being categorised as Australias best cooking apple. It was taken to be grown at the Bathurst Orchard Experiment Farm, and demand grew. By 1918 the apples were being sold to the US Army, and by the 1960s achieved worldwide acclaim for not only the flavour but the long storage capacity.
What’s so special about the Granny Smith?
Granny Smith apples are chefs go-to apple for cooking. If you eat apple pie, sauce or tarts, chances are you’re eating a Granny Smith. The high acid content stops the fruit turning brown as quickly after cutting, and the firm flesh maintains shape when cooked rather than turning to mush.
The apple is a grass green colour when ripe, which warms to a blush as it continues to ripen. A Granny Smith has a tangy and tart flavour, in comparison to other sweeter varieties like the Red Delicious. For those with more of a sweet tooth, cooking the apple caramelises the sugars into a richer flavour. The tartness also eases as the fruit continues to ripen.
Compared to other varieties, Granny Smiths are particularly high in antioxidants. The average Granny Smith contains around 80 calories (all supplied by carbohydrates), and gives you 20% of your daily vitamin C requirements, and 2% of Vitamin A, calcium and iron. You know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
How did it develop?
The Granny Smith is said to have formed as a hybrid from Tasmanian French Crab apples (Malus family) and the Cleopatra. As a hybrid mutation, a Granny Smiths seeds will be different from its parents, forming the new variety. So, every Granny Smith apple all over the world comes from Granny Smiths very own backyard! I guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Cross-pollination requires the transfer of pollen from one varieties flowers to another. A pollinator, such as bees or insects, carries the pollen from the polliniser, a compatible variety of apple as they scourge for nectar. You can think of cross-pollination in much the same way as human reproduction. Flowers have both male and female reproductive organs. The female reproductive organ is called the pistil, and is the single thin formation growing from the flowers centre. This includes the stigma at the end which receives pollen, the ovary which produces the seed and the connecting style. The male reproductive organ, the stamen, includes the anther where pollen is dispensed. Hybridising creates new varieties by taking the pollen of one plant and fertilising it on another. We call these parent plants the mother (seed parent) and the father (pollen parent). The hybrid will contain characteristics of both the mother and the father, but is not recognisable as either species.
What are growing requirements?
Granny Smiths tougher skin means they’re available all year round! Harvested early in the season (March) makes for a great cooking apple, whilst later harvests (May) produces a sweet and juicy eating apple. They can be refrigerated for several months, or kept in cold storage (1C) for up to one year! The time taken for a tree to bear fruit depends on the rootstock, but is usually 2-3 years after planting.
Granny Smiths aren’t particularly fussy for temperature, compared to other varieties. It’ll grow in most temperature ranges, still needing a slight winter chill (like most apples do). The preferred climate is cool or warm temperate zone. The Granny Smith is self-pollinating, although cross-pollinating is often used for higher yields.
The Granny Smith Today!
The Granny Smith is now one of Australia’s most popular apple varieties. It is also grown globally – from New Zealand to Europe, South America and the US.
Self-Fruiting Apple Trees: Learn About Apples That Pollinate Themselves
Apple trees are great assets to have in your backyard. Who doesn’t love picking fresh fruit from their own trees? And who doesn’t like apples? More than one gardener, however, has planted a beautiful apple tree in their garden and waited, with bated breath, for it to bear fruit…and they’ve kept waiting forever. This is because almost all apple trees are dioecious, which means they need cross pollination from another plant in order to bear fruit.
If you plant one apple tree and there are no others around for miles, chances are you’re never going to see any fruit…usually. While rare, there are actually some apples that purportedly pollinate themselves. Keep reading to learn more about self-fruiting apple trees.
Can Apples Self-Pollinate?
For the most part, apples can’t pollinate themselves. Most varieties of apple are dioecious, and there’s nothing we can do about it. If you want to grow an apple, you are going to have to plant a neighboring apple tree. (Or plant it near a wild crabapple tree. Crabapples are actually very good pollinizers).
There are, however, some varieties of apple tree that are monoecious, which means only one tree is required for pollination to occur. There aren’t very many of these varieties and, truth be told, they are not guaranteed. Even successful self-pollinating apples will produce far more fruit if they are cross pollinated with another tree. If you simply don’t have the space for more than one tree, however, these are the varieties to try.
Varieties of Self-Pollinating Apples
These self-fruiting apple trees can be found for sale and are listed as self-fertile:
- Cox Queen
- Granny Smith
- Grimes Golden
These apple varieties are listed as partially self-fertile, which means that their yields will likely be noticeably lower:
- Egremont Russet
- James Grieve
- Saint Edmund’s Russet
- Yellow Transparent
What Is Self-Fruitful In Gardens: Learn About Self-Pollinating Fruit
Nearly all fruit trees require pollination in the form of either cross-pollination or self-pollination in order to produce fruit. Understanding the difference between the two very different processes will help you plan before you plant fruit trees in your garden. If you have space for only one fruit tree, a cross-pollinating, self-fruitful tree is the answer.
How Does Self-Pollination of Fruit Trees Work?
Most fruit trees must be cross pollinated, which requires at least one tree of a different variety located within 50 feet. Pollination occurs when bees, insects or birds transfer pollen from the male part (anther) of a blossom on one tree to the female part of the blossom (stigma) on another tree. Trees that require a cross pollinator include all types of apples and most sweet cherries, as well as some types of plums and some pears.
If you’re wondering about what is self-fruitful or self-pollinating and how the process of self-pollination works, self-fruitful trees are pollinated by pollen from another flower on the same fruit tree or, in some cases, by pollen from the same flower. Pollinators such as bees, moths, butterflies or other insects are usually responsible, but sometimes, fruit trees are pollinated by wind, rain or birds.
Self-pollinating fruit trees include most types of sour cherries and most nectarines, as well as nearly all peaches and apricots. Pears are a self-pollinating fruit, but if cross pollination is available, it may result in larger yields. Similarly about half of plum varieties are self-fruitful. Unless you are sure about your variety of plum tree, having a second tree in close proximity will ensure pollination occurs. Most citrus trees are self-fruitful, but cross pollination often results in a larger harvest.
Because the answer to what trees are self-fruitful isn’t cut and dried, it’s always a good idea to purchase fruit trees from a knowledgeable grower before you invest money in expensive fruit trees. Don’t hesitate to ask plenty of questions before you buy.
Yard and Garden: Examining Pollination in Apple Trees
AMES, Iowa – Soon, it will be time for apple trees to bloom and bear delicious fruit for all to enjoy. But not all apple trees are fruitful. Why are some trees more productive than others? There are several reasons worth exploring.
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists can help answer queries regarding apple trees and their fruitful nature. To have additional questions answered, contact the ISU Hortline at 515-294-3108 or [email protected]
In regards to tree fruits, what is meant by the term self-unfruitful?
Pollination is the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma. After pollination and fertilization, fruit set occurs. There are two types of pollination. Self-pollination occurs when the pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma on the same flower, from another flower on the same plant or from a flower on another plant of the same cultivar.
Self-pollinated plants are said to be self-fruitful. Many plants cannot produce fruit from their own pollen and are considered self-unfruitful. These plants require cross-pollination for fruit set. Cross-pollination is the transfer of pollen from one plant to the flower of a genetically different plant or cultivar.
Is it necessary to plant two different apple cultivars for fruit set?
Pollination requirements are an important factor when planting tree fruits in the home garden. Apples are regarded as self-unfruitful. Most apple cultivars will set a small crop with their own pollen. However, for maximum production, plant at least two different apple cultivars within 50 to 100 feet of one another to ensure cross-pollination and fruit set.
Will a crabapple pollinate a nearby apple tree?
A crabapple is a type of apple. The main difference between an apple and a crabapple is the size of the fruit. A crabapple is a tree that produces fruit that are less than 2 inches in diameter. An apple tree produces fruit that are larger than 2 inches in diameter. Most flowering crabapples will pollinate nearby apple trees.
Why isn’t my apple tree bearing fruit?
The lack of fruit is likely due to the absence of flowers, poor pollination or low temperatures during bloom.
The lack of flowers is often due to the age of the tree. After planting, most dwarf and semi-dwarf apple trees don’t flower and bear fruit for three to five years. Standard apple trees may not bear fruit for five to 10 years. Fruit trees have to grow and mature before they are capable of flowering and fruiting.
The growth of young apple trees may be slowed by unfavorable growing conditions (insufficient sunlight, heavy soils, etc.) and poor cultural practices. Poorly growing trees lack the vigor to form flower buds.
If the apple tree is flowering but not setting fruit, the lack of fruit may be due to poor pollination. Apples are self-unfruitful. Two different flowering apple trees (cultivars) need to be located within 50 to 100 feet of one another to ensure pollination and fruit set. Cold, rainy weather during flowering drastically reduces bee activity and can also reduce pollination and fruit set.
Fruit set also can be greatly reduced by freezing temperatures during bloom. A temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit (when the trees are in full bloom) will destroy 10 percent of the flowers. Ninety percent of the flowers will be destroyed when the temperature drops to 25 F.
How does this pollination stuff work anyway?
The nursery trade contains a lot of conflicting information regarding plant pollination. Credible sources contradict each other and it can leave your head spinning. One catalog will tell you that a certain tree is self-pollinating, another will tell you that you need to plant at least two. We feel that this is a reflection of a simple concept: nature doesn’t walk a straight line. Some technically self-fertile plants don’t do so well setting fruit alone; other supposedly self-infertile plants set fruit heavily even when they are apparently isolated from their buddies. Then you add soil types, weather, cultural practices… oh my. Isn’t it good to be reminded of how little we really understand about nature?
Our catalog notes about pollination requirements for each plant are primarily based on our own observations and info we’ve gleaned from the experts. When there is any doubt, we suggest multiple plantings to ensure fruit sets. Here are a few definitions to help shed light on some commonly used botanical terms
Self-pollinating, self-fertile and self-fruitful all mean the same thing. You can plant a self-fertile tree and expect it to pollinate itself and set fruit alone (for example, peaches, pie cherries, apricots). However, many self-fertile trees’ fruit sets are enhanced with multiple plantings (elderberries and amelanchiers).
Self-sterile or self-infertile means that another tree of a different cultivar or variety is needed to set fruit (cross-pollinate). This is the case with most apples.
Monoecious (from Greek meaning ‘one household’) plants have their female and male parts on separate flowers both together on the same plant. In most cases, these plants are self-fertile, but not always! (Black walnuts are monoecious but the male flower releases pollen before the female flowers open, so having two plants is better than one).
Dioecious (meaning ‘two households’) plants have either all male or all female flowers on separate individuals. You would need to plant one female and one male to achieve pollination. When you buy unsexed seedlings, you generally have a 50-50 chance of getting one gender or the other (ginkgo, spicebush, bayberry, sea buckthorn).
Bisexual or Perfect flowers contain both male and female components within the same flower. Some plants with perfect flowers will be self-fertile, some will not. Often, specific cultivars or varieties have perfect flowers but they cannot pollinate themselves and need other varieties to assist them (apples and blueberries).
Pollen Nation – Supporting Pollinators
We owe thanks to our pollinators for giving us food to eat and seeds to grow. Bees, birds, bats, moths, flies and butterflies gather protein-rich pollen and sugary nectar from flower to flower while cross-pollinating our food crops and almost every plant we see (except of course those dependent on wind pollination.)
Yet many of our pollinator species are threatened, endangered or extinct from widespread chemical use on farms and gardens, genetically modified crops, and loss of habitat due to development. Bees are considered a “keystone” species, meaning that many other species depend on them for survival. Their extinction means our extinction. So why do we continue to harm them while at the same time demanding so much?
We can begin to help our pollinators by incorporating native plants back into our landscape and creating forage in places where it’s lacking. We can make our gardens a natural habitat for insects rather than a toxic place that only exists for our enjoyment. It’s a critical time to create gardens that mimic the native environment and help our suburbias (and farms!) be a little more natural. Below, we highlight some ways to encourage pollinators to come onto the scene and some of the plants that attract them.
Over millions of years, plants and pollinating insects have evolved together. Certain pollinators favor certain flowers depending on which colors they can see or which shapes their mouthparts fit into. Below we’ve outlined some patterns, but bear in mind it’s only a rough guide—pollinators are not always picky and tend to jump around. Every visit to the garden is an opportunity to observe pollinator habits.
Nectar-rich flowers attract butterflies, which typically don’t gather pollen, but extract nectar with long proboscises.
Abelia (Abelia mosanensis)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias spp.)
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia spp.)
New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Joe Pye Weed (Eupatoreum spp.)
Blazing Star (Liatris spp.)
Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)
The nectar of red tubular (trumpet-shaped) flowers attract hummingbirds, which see red and have long narrow beaks that fit perfectly into deep flowers.
Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia)
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Flowering quince (Chaenomeles spp.)
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Bee Balm (Monarda spp.)
Weigela (Weigela florida)
Umbelliferous (umbrella-shaped) flowers attract beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps and syrphid flies that have small mouthparts that fit perfectly in the tiny little flowers. Not only are these insects good pollinators but also the best ecological pest management around!
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
Lovage (Levisticum officinale)
Sweet Cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Elderberry (Sambucus spp.)
Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)
Purple and blue flowers are often pollinated by bees, which see the ultraviolet end of the spectrum.
Monkshood (Aconitum carmichaelli)
Blue False Indigo (Baptisia australis)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Catmint (Nepeta faasenii)
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Baikal Skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis)
Composite (daisy-shaped) flowers attract many kinds of bees and also provide a sheltered sleeping place for male bumblebees, which don’t return to the nest. At dusk or early morning they can be found tucked under the petals, sleeping soundly upside down.
Arnica (Arnica chamissonis)
Calendula (Calendula officinale)
Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
Gaillardia (Gaillardia spp.)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Rudbeckia (Rudbeckia spp.)
Host Plants for Butterfly and Moth Larvae
We often talk about nectar sources for butterflies and moths, but what about plants that feed their larvae? Certain host plants are required for the reproduction of this group of insects, the genus Lepidoptera. Host plants are always native because they have evolved over thousands of years with the dependent insects. While butterflies love the nectar of non-native Buddleia, they will never lay eggs on that plant because it is inedible to their larvae. Here are some important woody host plants and trees to incorporate into your landscape:
Maple (Acer spp.)
Birch (Betula spp.)
Hickory (Carya spp.)
Chestnut (Castanea spp.)
Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
Dogwood (Cornus spp.)
Hazelnut (Corylus spp.)
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Native Crabapple (Malus coronarius)
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
American Plum (Prunus americana)
Oak (Quercus spp.)
Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Willow (Salix spp.)
Linden (Tilia americana)
Elm (Ulmus americana)
Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)
Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)
Native Pollinators for the Orchard
Each year it seems harder and harder to overwinter honeybee hives. While honeybees are not native to North America, they sure do a good job pollinating our agricultural food crops. It’s hard to imagine a world without honey! Though we love them dearly, we must point out that it takes 10,000 or more honeybees to do the same amount of pollinating as only 250 native mason bees! Natives fly earlier and later in the day than honeybees and through wetter and colder conditions. Also, they are more successful pollinators because they carry pollen all over their bellies instead of in “pollen baskets” on their hind legs.
Most native bees are solitary dwellers, unlike the social honeybee. They have single nests in holes in wood or in the ground. Two of the best species for pollinating tree fruits are the blue orchard mason bee and the leafcutter bee. One way to encourage native bees is by growing plants that provide early-season forage, like willows, dogwoods, amelanchiers and viburnums. You can also invite bees to the garden or orchard by building simple nest boxes.
Building a wooden block nest box for solitary native bees
Of course native bees can find their own nesting spots, but it’s easy to help them by drilling horizontal holes into fence posts or by making wooden block nest boxes.
Grab a random piece of untreated wood, 4×6” or so and at least 6” deep. Drill several holes of different sizes. Smaller bees nest in 3/32–1/4″ diameter holes, 3–5” deep; larger bees need 1/4–3/8” diameter holes, 5–6” deep. Holes should be drilled 3/4” apart and this same distance from the edges. Choose your length. Bees will not nest in holes that have both ends open, so tack a board on the back if holes punch through. They do not like rough holes so make the sides of the holes smooth by using a sharp bit. If you really want to get fancy, you can throw a roof on to help keep off the rain. Mount block nest on a post or attach to a tree trunk near the orchard or garden. Discard nest boxes every few years so they don’t build up with parasites or diseases.
Bee houses are available here.