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plants with a long flowering period that bumblebees love

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Joined 2014-03-25

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As you’d of seen in my other topics,I have been trying to help the bumblebees for the last two years and also have plenty of land(garden, allotment and churchyard) to test flower plants to see how much the bumblebees liked them,how long they flowered for and to see how easy or difficult to grow and cultivate.
To flowers I am looking for must be favourite of the bumblebees ,flower for at least three months and be easy to grow.here are the ones I have found so far.
Winter Heathers     flowers. Dec. - April
Lenten rose.            ”        Jan-  April
Common Comfrey     ”        March-May
Lungwort.              ”        March-May
Bugle.                  ”        April-June
Cranebill.                ”        April-August
Cornflower(wild variety)  ”    June -heavy frost
Clover(as an annual)      ”    July-October
Himalayan honeysuckle.  ”    July -September
Lavatera bush.            ”      ”  -    “

I will be testing fifteen other varieties this year ,the three I have high hopes for are Cosms ,Rosemary and Gillardia goblin dwarf.I will let you know the results later in the year.
I have attached three photos of what the bumblebees where mainly feeding on in the Bristol area in March
,Lenten rose ,Common comfrey and Lungwort.
Hope you enjoyed Jacka

     

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Total Posts: 8

Joined 2014-04-17

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Lamium Album - White Deadnettle (sometimes known as the Bee Nettle because Bumble Bees love it so much).  I had a large clump last year and it was covered in bumble bees all day for possibly 5 months.

It is between 50 and 100 cm tall and throws out a root structure rather like stinging nettles do so it is easy to split and start new clumps.  Dies down in winter and grows from ground level again starting early spring.  Slightly fluffy soft leaves.

Cathy

     
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Total Posts: 18

Joined 2014-03-25

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HI Cathy,that sounds like a super plant to go into our wild flower meadow in the churchyard.I hope to be able to report fully on the churchyard very soon, waiting for latest photos to be put on the village web site.Will explain all in the next topic.
Thank you Jacka

     
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Total Posts: 7

Joined 2014-07-26

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Hi Jacka

Your list is great, thanks. I have a number of bee friendly plants too and the list is growing. I have just purchased a new Salix for Spring pollen. However for long flowering plants; there is a plant called Cerinthe major purpurescens which self seeds very easily in a sunny free draining position. It will flower from March/April through to summer. I did not document the months exactly this year but have allowed an entire area around a gingko tree to grow and this provides a constant supply of nectar and pollen for bees.

One to try if it helps, I am in Wilts climate wise.

Debbie

     
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Joined 2014-11-15

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It’s the long flowering period which is most difficult to achieve, and what will flower a long time in one area will not necessarily in another - bugle, for instance is come and gone in a couple of weeks in my (wet, west coast) garden.
Another addition would be green alkanet, still flowering in November and started in spring,
Erysimum (perennial wallflower) has been flowering for 12 months now, and my
red wiegela, don’t know the variety but I think it’s the basic one, which has been flowering off an on since the spring and is popular.
And the most popular of all is borage.

     
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Joined 2015-01-25

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I agree with cathy, lamium album is the queen of long flowering plants that bumblebees love, flowering till first frost from early spring.
Borage will continue to flower november.
Hyssop june till september
Chives april till september if regular deadhead
Marjoram may till september
Spicata june till september
Echinacea may till september.(Though i’ve yet to see a bumblebee visit any of her flowers)
I have tried rosemary(miss jessops) and this lasts a good 12 weeks.

Spacecadet.

     
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Total Posts: 18

Joined 2014-03-25

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Hi 20Lennox, I’m sorry to read that your bugle only lasted 2 weeks. I checked my records and mine flowered from 18April to 21 june. Looking on the hrs web site I discovered there are 40 different species,I guess we have different ones.When they start flowering I will try to identify them .
          Jacka

     
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Total Posts: 18

Joined 2014-03-25

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Sorry about my spelling hrs should read rhs
   
Jacka

     
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Total Posts: 18

Joined 2014-03-25

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Thanks to everyone who have giving the names of long flowering bumble bee friendly flower plants in this topic made other topics. I am building up a nice collection.I’m sorry I have been so long in getting back to you.I have been waiting for what I was told was told was common comfrey to come into flower as there has been some doubt about its true identity.I then took a branch of it to a nursery that cultivates comfrey and they have identified it as a hidcote blue comfrey.If I only had a small garden it’s the one I would pick ,for the months . March -May .I’m growing lavender and rosemary next to it and they bumblebees usually love them but for every bee you see on them you will find at least ten on the Hidcote blue comfrey and it will be in full bloom longer,apparently it grows very well in a large pot on the patio.The only plant I saw that was as popular as the comfrey was borago officinalis which is in the boraginaceae family the same as the Comfrey, Lungwort,Green alkanet, Borago pygmaea.The last two I am trying this year.I am also trying wood sage which is a member of the dead nettle family.
So far this year I have seen lots of queen bees on the winter heather and yesterday I saw my first worker on the Heather .It was either a buff or white tail I can never tell the difference. One last thing the clover Trifolium Protense that I put on the list has let me down.The second year of growth it only flowered for six weeks. I got in touch with the seed supplier . They confirmed six weeks was correct The year before the seeds must of germinate intermittently over a period of time causing a longer flowering period.So clover will have to be removed from my list.Sorry about that

    Bye for now jacka

 

     
RankRankRank

Total Posts: 79

Joined 2012-05-23

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Hi Jacka
Good luck with this project.  You might like to try Phacelia tanecetifolia which is usually grown as a green manure plant.  It is an annual but self-seeds beautifully but easy to remove.  I find Bumbles go mad for this.  If you sow at intervals you can have a constant supply of flowers all through the summer.  If I had to select one plant for Bumbles for the summer months this is the plant I would go for.  It’s very pretty too.
Sparrow - Sue

     
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Total Posts: 18

Joined 2014-03-25

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Hi Sue
        I wholeheartedly agree, the phacelia is a favourite of the bumblebees.Two other annuals that I grow are borage and cornflower they are also well liked.I read an article about another annual, red dead nettle,being good for bumblebees .So I decided to do a trial to see what attracts the most bumblebees. I started the trial in early February when six . borago self seeded in the polytunnel which I planted into 3” pots at the same time I sowed approximately 20 seeds per pot of the other 3 varieties into 3” pots,all kept in the polytunnel to help speed things up.Early March I potted up 6 more borage self seeders.I shall have to resow the borage and phacelia every 4-6 weeks as they do not flower all the all the summer were as the other two varieties will flower until the cold weather arrives.When the plants are large enough I shall plant them out into 1 meter sq. beds next to the bed of hidcote blue comfrey which is about the same size,then let the trial begin.It is going to be interesting as phacelia ,borage and

comfrey belong to the boraginaceae plant family .I will let you know how the trial goes later in the year.

              Bye for now Jacka