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What’s Growing On… 3/22/21

Great Looking Plants for week of 3/22/21

Tomorrow (March 20) is the first day of spring, and our list of available plants is GROWING!

In addition to all the great perennials; we now have cold season veggies, herbs and fruits available. Please visit our online catalog for more information on specific plants, however, please note – we only list plants as “available” on the website if they are “READY” or better (meaning dormant or cutback plants will not show as available). If you would like to see what is dormant, you can check out our complete availability below. For more information contact (for retail questions) and (for wholesale questions).

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Groundcovers @ Cavano’s

Chrysogonum virginianum

Low-growing plants that spread to fill an area; these plants are ideal candidates for “living mulch” by preventing erosion, regulating moisture levels, suppressing weeds, providing habitat for wildlife, and adding beauty to the landscape.

At Cavano’s Perennials, we grow a wide selection of plants that can be used in place of ivy, pachysandra, and vinca/myrtle (the traditional Big 3). For many years the Big 3 were the only options, however homeowners/gardeners are looking for more options. The number of gardeners is growing and they are becoming more savvy in their plant selections (wanting greater diversity of flora), they want to attract pollinators and wildlife in their gardens, and they are tired of the massive yearly task of mulching!

Phlox divaricata (Woodland Phlox) and Tiarella cordifolia (Foamflower)

Take a look at some of the options below, both grasses and forbes (perennials), and try incorporating them into your next project! The list below contains plants for sun or shade, dry to moist, and even many plants native to the Mid-Atlantic area.



Carex plantaginea has green leaves
Carex plantaginea (Seersucker Sedge)
Lamium Purple Dragon has purple flowes
Lamium maculatum ‘Purple Dragon’ PP15,890 (Deadnettle)
Sedum reflexum ‘Blue Spruce’
Carex amphibola has green leaves
Carex amphibola (Creek Sedge)
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Sunshine Avenue Farms



Sunshine Avenue Farms (SAF) was created to provide a source of food, education, and encouragement. Aimed at both novice and experienced gardeners, we realized that food is a commonality that can bring people together in times of uncertainty. 


Our line of vegetables, herbs, berries, and small fruits features thoughtfully sourced varieties that highlight heirloom and open pollinated varieties, All-America Selections winners, unusual varieties, and plants with a story! 


QR codes (on tags) link customers directly to  all the information, photos, and inspiration they need to succeed in their garden!  


Cavano’s works directly with community gardens and local organizations by donating Sunshine Avenue Farms products and education directly to our local community. In 2020, we supported the Y in Central Maryland and the Church and Court Garden in York, PA – providing vegetable/herb plants and seeds.



  • Blackberry Black Satin
  • Navaho
  • Ouachita


  • Biloxi
  • Blue Crop
  • Blueray
  • Bonus
  • Chandler
  • Chippewa
  • Duke
  • Elliott
  • Legacy
  • Mini Blues
  • Northsky
  • Patriot
  • Pink Lemonade
  • Polaris

Misc. Berries

  • Goji Berry
  • Gooseberry Little Ben


  • Brown Turkey
  • Celeste
  • Chicago Hardy
  • Ischia
  • Kadota
  • Lattarula
  • Olympian
  • Violet de Bordeaux


  • Encore
  • Heritage
  • Nova


  • Allstar
  • Chandler
  • Earliglow
  • Eclair
  • Eversweet
  • Fort Laramie
  • Honoeye
  • Ozark Beauty
  • Quinault
  • Seascape
  • Sequoia


  • Anise
  • Basil Cinnamon
  • Basil Citrus Lime
  • Basil Dark Opal
  • Basil Eleonora
  • Basil Holy
  • Basil Italian Large Leaf
  • Basil Prospera
  • Basil Rutgers Devotion
  • Basil Rutgers Obsession
  • Basil Sweet Thai
  • Borage
  • Calendula
  • Chamomile German
  • Chamomile Roman
  • Chives
  • Chives Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Comfrey
  • Costmary
  • Cumin
  • Dill Bouquet
  • Dill Fernleaf
  • Elecampane
  • Fennel Bronze
  • Fennel Grosfruchtiger
  • Fenugreek
  • Horehound
  • Lemon Balm
  • Lemon Bee Balm
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Lemongrass
  • Marjoram Sweet
  • Mexican Mint Marigold
  • Mint Apple
  • Mint Chocolate
  • Mint Mojito
  • Mint Peppermint
  • Mint Pineapple Variegated
  • Mint Spearmint
  • Mint Spearmint Ky Colonel
  • Nasturtium
  • Oregano Greek
  • Oregano Italian
  • Parsley Curled
  • Parsley Flat Italian
  • Perilla Green Shiso
  • Rosemary Arp
  • Rosemary Prostratus
  • Rue
  • Sage Broadleaf
  • Sage Clary
  • Sage Pineapple
  • Sesame Monticello White
  • Tarragon Russian
  • Thyme English
  • Thyme Golden Lemon
  • Thyme Silver Edged



  • Aurelia’s Verde
  • Green Calaloo
  • Hopi Red Dye



  • (Wild) Selvatica
  • Ortolani


  • Amethyst
  • Cherokee Trail of Tears


  • Calabrese
  • de Cicco
  • Early Purple Sprouting
  • Eastern Magic
  • Green Magic
  • Hon Tsai Tai
  • Spring Raab

Brussels Sprouts

  • Hestia
  • Red Bull

Buckwheat Takane Ruby


  • Blue Vantage
  • Minuet
  • Pak Choi
  • Primo Vantage
  • Purple Savoy
  • Ruby Perfection
  • Tatsoi


  • di Sicilia Violetto
  • Early Snowball
  • Romanesco

Collards Georgia Southern


  • Creme Puff Yellow
  • Mini Blue Popcorn
  • Miniature Pink


  • Diva Hybrid
  • Early Green Cluster
  • English Burpless
  • Mexican Sout Gherkin
  • Parisian Gherkin
  • Saladmore Bush
  • Soyu Long


  • Nadia
  • Paloma
  • Ping Tung Long
  • Rosa Bianca


Ground Cherry Aunt Molly’s


  • Blue Dwarf Curled
  • Red Russian
  • Scarlet
  • Toscano

Kohlrabi White Vienna


  • Black Seeded Simpson
  • Carmona Red
  • Freckles Romaine
  • Green Oakleaf
  • Little Gem
  • Mesclun Mix
  • Mix Misticanza Quattro Stagioni
  • Mix Premium Greens Mix

Mizuna Miz America

Mustard Golden Frills

Okra Red Burgundy


  • Dwarf White Blossom
  • Shoots
  • Sugar Snap Pea


  • (Bell) Big Red
  • (Bell) California Wonder
  • (Bell) Chocolate Bell
  • (Bell) Golden California Wonder
  • Ancho Gigantea
  • Chocolate Habanero
  • Corno di Toro Giallo
  • Iko Iko
  • Jalapeno
  • Joe’s Long Cayenne
  • Pepperoncini
  • Serrano Tampiqueno
  • Shishito
  • Thai Compact

Pumpkin New England Pie


  • Brightest Brilliant
  • Cherry Vanilla


  • Black Madras
  • Carolina Gold


  • Black Broom Corn
  • Red Broom Corn


Spinach Bloomsdale


  • Patty Pan Sunburst
  • Spaghetti Vegetable
  • Waltham Butternut
  • Yellow Crookneck Gold Star

Swiss Chard Bright Lights


  • Purple
  • Verde


  • A Grappoli Cordarino
  • Amish Paste
  • Amy’s Apricot
  • Arkansas Traveler
  • Aunt Ginny’s Purple
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green
  • Barry’s Crazy Cherry
  • Beam’s Yellow Pear
  • Black Krim
  • Boxcar Willie
  • Brandywine Sudduth’s Strain
  • Brandywine Yellow
  • Cherokee Purple
  • Chocolate Cherry
  • Cream Sausage
  • Gold Medal
  • Indigo Cherry Drops
  • Martha Washington
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
  • Pink Vernissage
  • San Marzano
  • Sunrise Bumblebee
  • Ten Fingers of Naples
  • Todd Amish County
  • Ukrainian Purple


  • 49er Hybrid
  • Black Beauty
  • Cocozelle
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The Mt. Cuba Center TOP PERFORMERS Program was created based on the research of Mt. Cuba Center in Hockessin, DE. Each of the plants in this program received a rating of 4.0 or higher in their trials (on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest).

The Mt. Cuba Center research team uses the Trial Garden to evaluate native plants and related cultivars for horticultural and ecological value, and to highlight the ecosystem services native plants provide. Our partnership with Mt. Cuba will help to ensure that some of these great garden plants continue to be sold in the trade.

The Mt. Cuba Center TOP PERFORMERS Program consists of the following plants:

  • Aster divaricatus ‘Eastern Star’ (White Wood Aster)
  • Aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’ (Heath Aster)
  • Aster novi-belgii ‘Wood’s Purple’ (New York Aster)
  • Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’ (Aromatic Aster)
  • Aster oblongifolius ‘Raydon’s Favorite’ (Aromatic Aster)
  • Baptisia ‘Ivory Towers’ PP26,827 (False Indigo)
  • Baptisia PrairiebluesTM ‘Lunar Eclipse’ PP25,875 (False Indigo)
  • Baptisia PrairiebluesTM ‘Royal Purple’ PP25,508 (False Indigo)
  • Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ (False Indigo)
  • Baptisia x variicolor PrairiebluesTM ‘Twilite’ PP19,011 (False Indigo)
  • Coreopsis ‘Gilded Lace’ PPAF (Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis integrifolia ‘Last Dance’ (Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis palustris ‘Summer Sunshine’ (Swamp Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis tripteris ‘Gold Standard’ (Tall Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis verticillata (Whorled Tickseed)
  • Echinacea Butterfly PostmanTM ‘Post301’ PP28,524 (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea Butterfly ‘Purple Emperor’ PP24,459 (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Baby White Swan’ (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Pica Bella’ (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea purpurea PowWow White ‘Pas709018’ (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’ (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea purpurea ‘Vintage Wine’ PP13,893 (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea Sombrero® Blanco ‘Balsomblanc’ (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea Sombrero® Flamenco Orange ‘Balsomenco’ PP25,523 (Coneflower)
  • Echinacea Sombrero® PocoTM Hot Coral ‘Balsomcor’ PP23,097 (Coneflower)
  • Heuchera ‘Apple Crisp’ PP23,576 (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera ‘Citronelle’ PP17,934 (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera ‘Frosted Violet’ PP15,085 (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera ‘Plum Pudding’ (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera ‘Southern Comfort’ PP20,364 (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera ‘Spellbound’ PP24,103 (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera villosa ‘Bronze Wave’ (Coral Bells)
  • Heuchera villosa ‘Caramel’ PP16,560 (Coral Bells)
  • Monarda didyma ‘Purple Rooster’ (Beebalm)
  • Monarda fistulosa ‘Claire Grace’ (Beebalm)
  • Monarda ‘Gardenview Scarlet’ (Beebalm)
  • Monarda x ‘Judith’s Fancy Fuchsia’ (Beebalm)
  • Monarda ‘Raspberry Wine’ (Beebalm)
  • Phlox carolina ssp. carolina ‘Kim’ (Carolina Phlox)
  • Phlox carolina ssp. carolina ‘Mini Pearl’ (Carolina Phlox)
  • Phlox glaberrima ‘Morris Berd’ (Smooth Phlox)
  • Phlox paniculata Garden Girls® ‘Glamour Girl’ PP25,778 (Garden Phlox)
  • Phlox paniculata ‘Jeana’ (Garden Phlox)
  • Phlox Earlibeauty® ‘Solar Flare’ PP27,265 (Phlox)
  • Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’ (Creeping Phlox)

For more information on the ongoing and previous trials at Mt. Cuba Center, visit

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Cavano’s HABITAT Program

The HABITAT Program was created based on the research of Dr. Doug Tallamy. Each of the plants in this program provide food for caterpillars (larvae) of butterflies/moths of the Eastern United States.

An example is the caterpillar pictured to the right. This is the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar, a common and photogenic creature. The Monarch caterpillar only feeds on milkweed plants, such as Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed), A. syriaca (Common Milkweed), A. tuberosa (Butterfly Weed), and A. verticillata (Whorled Milkweed). Without milkweed the Monarch butterfly will not lay eggs and reproduce.

If milkweed isn’t your plant of choice, how about hibiscus? Hibiscus is a the host plant for the Spiny Oak-Slug Moth and the Delightful Bird-Dropping Moth (you know you want to see that one).

The HABITAT Program consists of the following plants:

  • Anaphalis margaritacea (Pearly Everlasting)
  • Antennaria neglecta (Field Pussytoes)
  • Antennaria plantaginifolia (Pussytoes)
  • Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)
  • Asclepias verticillata (Whorled Milkweed)
  • Aster azureus (Sky Blue Aster)
  • Aster novi-belgii (New York Aster)
  • Campanula rotundifolia (Harebell)
  • Carex albicans (White Tinged Sedge)
  • Carex amphibola (Creek Sedge)
  • Carex cherokeensis (Cherokee Sedge)
  • Carex crinita (Fringed Sedge)
  • Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania Sedge)
  • Carex stricta (Tussock Sedge)
  • Carex vulpinoidea (Fox Sedge)
  • Chelone glabra (White Turtlehead)
  • Chrysopsis mariana (Maryland Golden Aster)
  • Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
  • Elymus hystrix (Bottlebrush Grass)
  • Fragaria virginiana (Virginia Strawberry)
  • Helenium flexuosum (Purple-headed Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)
  • Helianthus divaricatus (Woodland Sunflower)
  • Helianthus salicifolius (Willowleaf Sunflower)
  • Hibiscus moscheutos (Swamp Mallow)
  • Juncus effusus (Common Rush)
  • Panicum virgatum (Switch Grass)
  • Phlox divaricata (Woodland Phlox)
  • Phlox pilosa (Downy Phlox)
  • Phlox stolonifera (Creeping Phlox)
  • Polemonium reptans (Jacob’s Ladder)
  • Pycnanthemum flexuosum (Appalachian Mountainmint)
  • Pycnanthemum incanum (Hoary Mountainmint)
  • Pycnanthemum tenuifolium (Narrowleaf Mountainmint)
  • Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia Mountainmint)
  • Rudbeckia laciniata (Cutleaf Coneflower)
  • Rudbeckia triloba (Brown Eyed Susan)
  • Scizachyrium scoparium (Little Bluestem)
  • Solidago bicolor (White Goldenrod)
  • Solidago caesia (Bluestem Goldenrod)
  • Solidago graminifolia (Grass-leaved Goldenrod)
  • Solidago odora (Anise Scented Goldenrod)
  • Solidago rugosa (Wrinkleleaf Goldenrod)
  • Solidago  speciosa (Showy Goldenrod)
  • Sporobolus heterolepis (Prairie Dropseed)
  • Verbesina alternifolia (Wingstem)
  • Viola labradorica (Labrador Violet)
  • Zizia aurea (Golden Alexander)

You can learn more about larval host plants and the butterflies/moths that are common in your area here

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Cavano’s Pollination Program

The POLLINATION Program was created based on the research of Sam Droege (USGS) and Jarrod Fowler. Each of the plants in this program provide food for pollen specialist bee species of the Eastern United States.

Colletes aesthivalis – pollen specialist bee of Heuchera americana

An example is the bee pictured to the right. This is Colletes aesthivalis, a specialist bee of Heuchera americana (Coral Bells). This bee was not documented in Pennsylvania for over 100 years, until one of our employees noticed it in her garden in the spring of 2020. Without the Heuchera americana plant and flowers, this bee could disappear forever.

Many of these native specialist bees go un-noticed in our gardens, however others simply do no have the host plants they require for survival. Adding these plants to your gardens and landscapes is a great way to increase biodiversity and provide a valuable food source for our native bees.

The Pollination Program consists of the following plants:

  • Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop)
  • Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)
  • Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)
  • Aster cordifolius (Blue Wood Aster)
  • Aster ericoides (Heath Aster)
  • Aster laevis ‘Bluebird’ (Smooth Aster)
  • Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)
  • Aster pilosus (Frost Aster)
  • Aster puniceus (Purplestem Aster)
  • Aster spectabilis (Showy Aster)
  • Aster umbellatus (Flat Topped Aster)
  • Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis rosea (Pink Tickseed)
  • Coreopsis verticillata ‘Zagreb’ (Whorled Tickseed)
  • Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower)
  • Eryngium yuccifolium (Rattlesnake Master)
  • Eupatorium coelestinum (Blue Mist Flower)
  • Eupatorium dubium (Coastal Plain Joy Pye)
  • Eupatorium fistulosum (Hollow Joe Pye)
  • Eupatorium hyssopifolium (Hyssop-leaved Thoroughwort)
  • Eupatorium purpureum ssp. maculatum ‘Gateway’ (Joe Pye Weed)
  • Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ (Sunflower)
  • Heliopsis helianthoides (False Sunflower)
  • Heliopsis helianthoides ‘Summer Sun’ (False Sunflower)
  • Heuchera americana (American Alumroot)
  • Liatris microcephala (Smallhead Blazing Star)
  • Liatris spicata (Dense Blazing Star)
  • Monarda bradburiana (Eastern Beebalm)
  • Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot)
  • Monarda punctata (Spotted Beebalm)
  • Oenothera fruticosa ‘Fireworks’ (Evening Primrose)
  • Parthenium integrifolium (Wild Quinine)
  • Penstemon calycosus (Calico Beardtongue)
  • Penstemon digitalis (Foxglove Beardtongue)
  • Penstemon hirsutus (Hairy Beardtongue)
  • Pycnanthemum muticum (Clustered Mountainmint)
  • Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida (Orange Coneflower)
  • Rudbeckia hirta (Black Eyed Susan)
  • Senecio obovatus (Rough-leaf Ragwort)
  • Senecio aureus (Golden Ragwort)
  • Solidago nemoralis (Gray Goldenrod)
  • Solidago rigida (Stiff Goldenrod)
  • Tiarella cordifolia (Foamflower)
  • Verbena hastata (Swamp Verbena)
  • Vernonia glauca (Broadleaf Ironweed)
  • Vernonia noveboracensis (New York Ironweed)
  • Veronicastrum virginicum (Culver’s Root)
  • Waldsteinia fragarioides (Barren Strawberry)
Andrena asteris – pollen specialist of Aster sp.

For a complete list of specialist bee host plants, visit

More information about Sam Droege’s work can be found here

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A Native Plant Success Story: Finding Rare Bees in Your Backyard

Colletes aestivalis on Heuchera americana


Depending on the audience, people love them or hate them. To some a ”bee“ is the pesky yellow jacket lingering on your soda can. To others, a “bee” is the honey bee, a European species known for iconic hives and honey production. Children often associate bees with painful stingers, while some adults worry about potentially deadly allergies.

To me, a “bee” is all of these things and none of them. I keep hives for honeybees, I get angered by the yellow buzzing things like yellow jackets (which in fact are not a true bee), and I thoroughly enjoy watching various native bumblebees as they visit the diverse flora in my backyard.

Watching these various bumblebees, as they collect yellow/gold pollen on their legs is what alerted me to something unusual a few weeks ago. A garden visitor hanging out on my native Heuchera americana or Coral Bells. However, this visitor was a bit different.

Heuchera americana

Smaller than a honeybee and carrying bright orange pollen on her back legs, the bee keeper in me wondered – “Where is she finding orange pollen this time of year?” Typically red-orange pollen is an early spring occurrence on honeybees – a sign that the henbit is in bloom. (Henbit, or Lamium amplexicaule, is a European annual that has naturalized in the United States.) This observation lead me to investigate further.

If you are familiar with Heuchera americana, you know that the flower is nothing exceptional, predominantly green and tiny. For many years I would cut them off because they would flop. However this year, they were standing tall, in a site with more sun exposure than normal due to a recent tree removal. I quickly ripped open one of the small green flowers to discover a surprise – orange pollen.

The next logical step was to take this recent finding to social media in search of an ID, being sure to tag Sam Droege, a Wildlife Biologist at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. Within 8 days or sharing photographs, capturing samples and shipping them to a local entomologist (Shelby Kilpatrick, a PhD student at Penn State University) – we had a positive ID. A rare sighting of Colletes aestivalis, a pollen specialist bee on Heuchera americana, which had not been documented in Pennsylvania in 102 years.

Heuchera americana flower

My professional response to this was nothing other than “SQUEEEEEEE!!” What else can one say when you find a bee in your backyard that has not been documented in your state for 102 years?

Takeaway? Straight species native plants are important. Not only are there specialist bees for Heuchera, but there are specialist bees for Zizia, Asters, Goldenrods, Sunflowers, Coreopsis, Eupatorium, and so much more! Jarrod Fowler has compiled a great resource list of specialist bees and native hosts. What I have learned from this experience is that there are MANY unknowns when it comes to specialist bees. Will they collect pollen from cultivars of the straight species? This is something the scientists don’t have an answer for. Continued monitoring is needed and citizen scientists can play an important role in this monitoring.

What can you do? Plant Mid-Atlantic native plants in your garden in mass and watch! Take pictures of what you see and share with on facebook groups like Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab (BIML), reach out to folks like Sam and Shelby, visit reputable websites and attend/listen to lectures when possible.

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Pollinator Profile: Bumble Bee (Bombus spp.)

Bumblebee nectaring on Echinacea
Bumblebee nectaring on Echinacea.

Bee Profile

Bumble bees are perhaps one of the most widely recognized bees that grace our gardens and landscapes. With their characteristic buzzing and noticeably furry bodies adorned with pollen, bumble bees bring both joy for us as observers and ample pollination benefits to a large array of landscape plants and food crops. Bumble bees are in fact a genus of about 50 individual species that share similar attributes, 28 of which live in the Eastern US. 

Life Cycle

Unlike European honey bees, bumble bees form annual colonies, meaning that each year a new queen emerges from hibernation to build and populate an entire colony. Over the course of the spring and summer the queen and the workers she herself incubated, oversee the rearing of several more generations of female workers. These workers collect the pollen and nectar necessary to support the growing colony. In the late summer, male drones are born that mate with a select few females.  These young females, called gynes, forage for a couple weeks to build enough energy stores to hibernate through the winter. No other member of the colony lives through the winter frost. In the early spring, these young queens emerge and each begin her own nest. And the cycle continues… 


Long-tongued bees should have access to tubular flowers like Monarda.
Long-tongued bees should have access to tubular flowers like Monarda.

With their large size and long tongues, bumble bees are able to access pollen and nectar from a large variety of flower types; they are called generalists in that sense. That is a good thing because members of the colony need to feed from February until late fall, so it is critical that they have a wide variety of food sources available. Bumble bees can do what few other bees can… Buzz! What we hear as buzzing is called sonication and has a critical role in pollen collection for the bees. Buzz pollination occurs when the bees rapidly vibrate their flight muscles while holding onto the flower anthers (male flower parts that hold pollen). This vibration releases pollen that would otherwise be inaccessible. The bees can then brush the pollen from their bodies and head and pack it into the pollen baskets on their rear legs.  Food crops like tomatoes, blueberries, and apples rely on buzz pollination, so thank a bumble bee next time you slice that tomato for your sandwich! 

Late season forage and nest site.
Late season forage and nest site.

What Can You Do? 

So, how can you ensure a healthy population of bumble bees in your garden or community? 

  1. Plant flowers, trees, and shrubs with a variety of bloom times, ensuring that the bees will have nectar and pollen sources from early spring through late fall. 
  2. Resist raking and clearing in early spring so the young queens can emerge safely from the ground and begin their broods. 
  3. Leave piles of plant debris and abandoned rodent holes be. These are the favorite nesting sites of bumble bees as they are already built, protected, and ready for a new queen to begin her brood. 

Resources & Further Reading: 

Praying mantis species feeding on bumblebee.
Praying mantis species feeding on bumblebee.

Holm, Heather. Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide. Pollination Press, 2017.

Holm, Heather. Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants. Pollination Press LLC, 2014.

Mader, Eric, et al. Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North Americas Bees and Butterflies: the Xerces Society Guide. Storey Pub., 2011.

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Valuable Plants to Improve Your Pollinator Garden

We all want to attract pollinators, but many times we don’t have the space to include every plant an insect might find valuable. What is the best way to break down the massive lists of pollinator plants? Let’s look to the research.

From 2012-2015, Master Gardeners from Penn State Extension studied 86 native plant species and cultivars for their attractiveness to pollinators. The winner? Hands down, it was Pycnanthemum muticum or Clustered Mountain Mint. Oh no, a mint you say? Although it looks like a mint and smells sort of like a mint, it doesn’t always behave like a mint spreading everywhere (although I can’t lie, in some soils it does).

If you have space to grow it, Clustered Mountain Mint will attract the largest number of different pollinator species to it’s tiny white flowers. Bees, flies, wasps and more are frequent visitors. The great part is that these insects are so intent on feeding, that they could really care less about you observing their feast. The plant will be alive with activity, almost humming, which is a delightful observance. (Learn more about Clustered Mountain Mint here

Another great plant that did very well in the trial was Eupatorium dubium (Eutrochium dubium) or Coastal Plain Joe Pye Weed. This Joe Pye has a shorter stature than many, topping out between 3-4’ for me. It is also more tolerant of dry soils which is great for folks with drier soil who REALLY want to be able to grow a Joe Pye!

Coreopis ‘Zagreb’ while a cultivar, placed in the top 20. While this Coreopsis might seem common place to some, the fact that it blooms earlier in the season is great for the pollinators in early summer. Aster ‘October Skies’ (Symphyotrichum) is another great flower in the top 20, with a lovely blue flower in the fall.

While any of the top 20 plants would be great additions to your garden, don’t feel like you should limit yourself to only these 20 plants. Biodiversity in nature is important, and if your entire neighborhood plants the same 20 plants, you could miss out on some really cool insects! Like a specialist bee that only visits Helianthus (Sunflower), or only visits a certain Heuchera (Coral Bell). Let’s get planting!

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Plant One for the Home (Pollinator) Team

Bee on Beebalm.

June is National Pollinator Month. At Cavano’s Perennials we value the role that our pollinators and beneficial insects fill – bee, bird, butterfly or bat – we love them all. We continue to develop habitat gardens on our property so that we can enjoy not only the physical beauty of having the insects onsite, but also to utilize many benefits they have to offer.

  • Pollination (the obvious). Our display gardens incorporate food – greens, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, etc – food that is then harvested and given to our employees. Without pollinators, much of that food would never come to fruition.
  • Insect control. Some beneficial insects eat other insects, many of which can be problematic in a nursery. Parasitic wasps are a natural enemy of pest insects, and a large population can be very beneficial.
  • Food for other creatures. While this may be a sad reality to some, our pollinators are the beginning of the food web. They provide a vital source of nutrients for birds and small mammals. Without the caterpillars of butterfly and moth species, many of our songbirds would disappear. This food source is vital to the diet of a baby bird.

As we begin National Pollinator Month, stay tuned for more information about creating pollinator habitat, specific plants of interest, management of pollinator areas, and much more. #PlantsDoThat #CavanosGrows #PlantsMakePeopleHappy #Pollinators