Growing a Bee-Friendly Organic Garden

Read these gardening hacks to make your backyard the spot for bees to hang out and pollinate.

| February 2018

In 101 Organic Gardening Hacks (Cool Springs Press, 2017), Shawna Coronado shares her 101 favorite gardening hacks, from anything as basic as maintenance hack, to tips on using wine bottles to give your garden a cute modern look. The following excerpt is a collection of hacks that can help your garden become a better friend to the bees in your area.

1. Grow a Bee Flower

Hardy Perennial Geraniums are flush with flowers and pollinators all through the early spring season. They rebloom consistently and love shade and woodland sites, which makes them perfect for supporting bees of all types. Hardy perennial geranium is not the tender Pelargonium geranium we remember from our grandmothers’ gardens. There are many types of hardy geraniums: some are low-growing and make perfect groundcovers for tight spaces; larger varieties can easily stretch to 4 feet tall and wide. While most geraniums prefer sun to part sun, a number of them will easily perform in the shade. Choose the planting site based upon the variety of geranium you have chosen and its sun exposure preferences.

Although geraniums do not like standing in water, they do like a consistent medium moisture and a humus-rich soil with lots of natural items mixed in: Rotted manure, compost, and worm castings make perfect soil amendments. This does not make them a likely candidate for hot or arid areas in the garden. Plant them directly into rich soil or containers in spring after the last frost, or plant them from seed in the fall or in the spring if the geranium seed has been cold treated.

Hardy geraniums make a surprising sound when seeds explode from seed pods in latent flower heads. Plants throw seeds quite a distance after the flowering has ended in early summer.

The geranium can be divided by digging up the rhizomes and cutting them between arising stems. A new cluster of basal leaves and flowering stems will crop up from the thick, branched horizontal rhizomes. Water them regularly upon initial transplanting. Once they are established, geraniums will survive dry conditions as long as the soil is rich.

Prune back flower stems after the first bloom to help tidy the plant and encourage it to bloom again. Prune more if the plant grows out of bounds at any time. Hardy geranium are susceptible to relatively few pests or diseases; however, if watered heavily from the top of the plant in shadier conditions, they can develop powdery mildew and fungal problems. If that happens to your geraniums, cut off infected leaves, but do not compost; be sure to throw the infected leaves away.

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