Saturday, June 20, 2015

Use wildflowers to create a pollinator garden in a pot!

Editor's note: Chris Waltz will lead a Make Your Own Pollinator Pot workshop during the Florida Wildflower Symposium Sept. 25-26 at Harry P. Leu Gardens, Orlando. Click here to join our email list to get first notice of registration opening in July.

Chris delivers his Pollinator Pots to FWF staff!

A weekend gardening project seems a fitting way to wrap up National Pollinator Week. Chris Waltz, volunteer extraordinaire and wildflower-gardening enthusiast, recently dropped two of his creations off at the Foundation's Maitland office. We'll let Chris share with you the story behind the pots:

"I was always hearing folks say they can't grow natives because they live in an apartment, condo, or other small space. I started thinking: They grow houseplants and annuals; why can't they grow natives the same way? My idea is that native wildflowers would bring life to these usually lifeless locations. My initial thought was of butterfly gardening because of the need for more native milkweeds. That grew to more of a focus on helping native bees,  so it became 'pollinator garden in a pot.'

"I  started with a large, plain clay garden pot. I painted it lime green for a splash of color. I chose my plants the same way one would pick out plants for a landscape, making sure they had very similar growing conditions - wet, dry, sun, shade, flowering season, etc.

"The key is to get small plants, either liners or 4-inch pots, so they can all grow together.
For example, this is how I filled one pot (all are available through native nurseries):

  • Pink Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) 
  • Florida Tickseed (Coreopsis floridana)
  • Swamp Twinflower (Dyschoriste humistrata) 
  • Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata) 
  • Silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia) 
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) 
  • Stoke's Aster (Stokesia laevis) 

"My next mission was finding appropriate soil (most box stores carry potting soils with fertilizers, moisture control, and even insecticides). It was a little difficult doing this from the typical home gardener side, but I located fertilizer- and pesticide-free organic potting soil that fit my needs.

"Once I had all the components and the garden pot was painted, I was ready to plant. After planting, I watered everyday for the first week, then every other day, and eventually only watered when needed."

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