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June Article

Five Fun Ways to Help Our Pollinators!


Over the last few years, insect pollinators have made big headlines in the main-stream press.  Scientists are pounding the table, warning that our pollinating species populations are trending significantly downward, and actions must be taken to save our bees and other pollinating species.  Without them, the food industry will severely suffer, and we will have an even harder time than we do now feeding an increasing world population. 


Both honey bees and native bees are responsible for pollinating a very large portion of our food crops.  Did you know that honey bees aren't native to the United States? They were actually brought in from Europe. Surprisingly, we have well over one thousand native bee species, and these very important insects get less attention.  Native bees are usually solitary and rarely sting humans.  This is because they don't have the protective "hive mentality" that honey bees do.



In addition to bees, there are many other types of pollinators.  Wasps, flies, moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds are all examples of common pollinators that call Minnesota home.  Many of these types of pollinators are in peril as well.  The Monarch Butterfly - the species that most of us were in awe of as kids, is in trouble.  This amazing orange and black butterfly that makes the tremendous journey from northern latitudes to Mexico every year is now being considered for the Federal Endangered Species List.  It's population is being severely impacted by habitat loss.

So what can we do on a local level to help out our pollinator friends? Here are five suggestions that will make a substantial impact on your property and in your neighborhood:


1.Plant more flowers. This is number one because it is arguably the most important thing you can do to help struggling pollinators. Many bees and butterflies can't fly very far to find food sources, which is pollen and nectar from flowers, trees, and shrubs.  Many moths and butterflies rely on specific species of flowers for their larval host plants (i.e. Milkweed for Monarch caterpillars). Native bees have evolved specific traits (tongue length) to get to native plant pollen. They need those specific plants to get enough food to survive and reproduce. Plant native plants that flower at different periods throughout the season to provide ample food.


2.Pollinator houses- Bees, moths, butterflies, humans, we all need shelter! With habitat on the decline, "housing" for our native pollinators is becoming harder and harder to find.  Native bees nest in ground cavities or hollowed out plant stems. A small area of bare dirt in your yard can be the perfect spot for a bee to make a nest. Leaving old stems up for bees to nest in the spring is also a great way to provide them with the shelter they  need! You can buy or build a variety of boxes as well to provide habitat for native bees. Boxes can also be made for butterflies and moths to use for nesting as well. Just make sure you clean them out every fall. You can also leave dead tree stumps or large branches (called snags) in your yard for pollinator housing as well. You can also use shallow dishes or birdbaths in your yard for water sources.


3.Stay away from Neonicotinoids.  These are systemic pesticides used in the nursery business and other industries to kill pest insects.  This chemical can stay within plant tissues for a long period of time.  Pollinators who visit treated plants for pollen and nectar can pick up this chemical and die.  When purchasing plants, make sure you know where your plants are coming from and if they have been treated with neonicotinoids. Natural Shore has never and will never use neonicotinoids in any of our nursery practices.  We believe that avoiding insecticides that can harm pollinators makes sense.  It's better to sometimes accept a little damage on our plants, rather than using a chemical that can impact our vital insect pollinators.


4.Support pollinator legislation. Politicians don't always agree with each other, but what could be less bipartisan than protecting our pollinators? Think about sharing this story with your representatives.  We need to take measurable steps forward in protecting our pollinators.  Thoughtful legislation may be a reasonable avenue.


5.Educate others. Maybe your mom, siblings, or your neighbors don't know yet the peril that our pollinators face. Be an advocate for our bees and butterflies and tell your friends and family about providing habitat and food for these essential insects.  Make your natural area a demonstration - a beautiful and extremely effective teaching tool.

Native Plant of the Month
Prairie Tickseed       
Coreopsis palmata

Moisture: Moist or Dry
Exposure: Sun or Partial Shade
Bloom: June-August
Color: Yellow
Height: 1-2 Feet

Praire Tickseed is a small, stiff-stemmed plant that spreads by rhizomes and self seeding.  They will form colonies as they mature. Their stems are hairless except for occasional small tufts of hair at leaf bases.  The stem leaves are unstalked and deeply tri-lobed to resemble a bird's foot. They also have a light green center vein that runs the length of the leaf.  Their pale yellow flowers are 1"-2" diameter and have less ragged ends of ray florets (8-12) than other Coreopsis.  It is an easy to grow plant that's also tough.  They grow well in sunny areas in poor soil that is mesic to dry and well drained.  Prairie Tickseed is found in prairies, savannas, dry open woods, and abandoned fields.  Their flowers visited by bees, butterflies, beetles, moths, and wasps.

Invasive Plant of the Month


Leonurus cardiaca


Exposure: Sun 

Moisture: Wet or Dry

Height: 2-4 Feet

Blooms: June-August


A weedy perennial from Asia, Motherwort is in the mint family. It has a hairy, square stem with leaves oriented up the stem. The leaves are larger at the bottom and get smaller as they get to the top. Lower leaves are deeply lobed with teeth that resemble maple leaves. The upper leaves are smaller, more narrow, and not dramatically lobed. Flowers are tubular, pink or lavender, small, and are found in clusters oriented around the stem. This plant is found in woodlands or areas with disturbed soils and spread by their rhizomes. Management strategies include hand pulling (which can disturb soils further), mowing, or select herbicide treatments.

Pollinator of the Month

Red Spotted Purple

Limenitis arthemis astyanax


Range: Middle of southern Canada south to Mexico

Habitat: Open areas like forest edges, meadows, stream banks, and woodlands. 

Identification: The top of the wings are black but look blue due to their iridescence. The forewing tips on the top of the butterfly have orange dots. The underwings are iridescent blue as well with an orange and white dots along their margins. 

Host Plants/Pollination: This butterfly's caterpillar eats the leaves of native trees and shrubs like American Basswood, Oak, Hawthorn, Birch, Black Cherry, and others. The  adults feed on nectar of native plants and their favorites are those with small white flowers.

June 2015 Issue
Our Company
Retail Nursery News
Our Retail Nursery is open! Come visit us during these dates in June!

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Thurs June 4th
Thurs- Sat June 11th-13th
Thurs June 18th 
Thurs-Sat June 25th-27th

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Minnnesota Native Plant Brand ensures that plant species are native to Minnesota. 
Upcoming Events

Join us at the Minnetonka City Hall for their 2015 Eco Fun Fest where we will be selling our native plants! Wednesday June 3rd!

We will be selling our native plants at Purple Martin Fest and Nature Expo on June 6th at Schroeder Regional Park on Cedar Lake! 9201 Ireland Ave NW, Annandale MN,55302

Landscape Revival on Saturday June 6th from 9am to 3pm at the Community Pavilion at the Roseville Cub Foods. 1201 Larpenteur Ave W Roseville, MN 55113