Using Michigan native plants to produce win-win situations for agriculture, communities and the environment.
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New research update: Native plants in dry soils most attractive for beneficial insects. A summary presented at the 29th Annual Wildflower Conference. Wildflower Association of Michigan. March 7, 2016. East Lansing, MI.
The goal of this USDA SARE-funded project is to conduct research and education to increase the availability of plants to support natural enemies and pollinators. We are evaluating plants that are suitable for dry soils in the north-central United States, to complement our earlier work on insectary plants for soils with good moisture-holding capacity. These dry soil-adapted plants will be useful for many settings in Michigan where more drought-prone soils are common.
The first field season of this project was in 2015, when we sampled each week from late May through early October for natural enemy and pollinator abundance on 54 species of plants in three research sites: Southwestern Michigan Research and Extension Center (SWMREC), the Clarksville Research Center (CRC), and Northwestern Michigan Horticultural Research Center (NWMHRC). The plants included a mix of native plant species and some “beekeeper picks” that were recommended to the team.
During the peak bloom for each species, plants were sampled to assess their height and floral area. At the same time, pollinators and natural enemies attracted to these plants were collected and identified. Our preliminary results from SWMREC show the following species were attractive to both natural enemies and pollinators.
- During the early-season, common cinquefoil, lance-leaved coreopsis, birdsfoot trefoil, yarrow and sundrops.
- During mid-season, wild bergamot, early goldenrod, gray goldenrod, mountain mint, hairy mountain mint and spotted bee balm.
- In late-season, tall coreopsis, stiff goldenrod, pale leaved sunflower, sky blue aster and showy goldenrod.
Some plant species that did not bloom in 2015 or bloomed at reduced rates due to their young age, are likely to join this list in the future, and we will continue sampling in 2016. Once available, full results will be summarized and posted here at our website: www.nativeplants.msu.edu
Project team: Douglas Landis, Rufus Isaacs, Daniel Gibson, Logan Rowe.