Trunkline Magazine (Louisville Zoo) June 2018 | Page 16

plant is dioecious — Greek for “two houses.” It means that the male and female reproductive structures are on separate plants. Clusters of tiny, aromatic, greenish-yellow flow- ers bloom in early spring. Flowers are produced on both female and male plants. Bright red fruits appear in late summer and early autumn on female shrubs. Spicebush is the host plant for the larva (caterpillar) of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly as it feeds on the leaves of the plant. As with St. John’s wort, spicebush is another plant that grows easily in Kentucky and is planted in many of the same locations. It also does not have any significant disease or insect problems. A new addition to the inside of our butterfly exhibit this year is Mexican sunflower ‘Torch’, Tithonia rotundifolia. It has large, vibrant, Mexican sunflower 'Torch' orange flowers that are 3 inches across. This is a warm weather an- nual that is native to Mexico and Central America. Mexican sunflower can reach heights of 6 feet and have a spread of 2 to 3 feet wide. It blooms from July – September and thrives in summer heat in average, dry to moist, and well-drained soils. Plants can be grown easily from seed by sowing seeds directly after the final spring frost. For an earlier bloom, start seeds indoors 6 – 8 weeks before last frost date and plant seedlings about 2 feet apart. This is a low-maintenance plant with many benefits, but it will do better if staked to avoid toppling over and be sure to deadhead (cut below) old flower blooms to pro- long blooming or cut back plants to encourage bushier growth. This nectar plant is extremely attrac- tive to pollinators such as hum- mingbirds, bumblebees, monarch butterflies, many of the swallowtail butterfly species (eastern tiger, gi- ant, pipevine, spicebush), as well as other smaller species of butterflies. Try planting any of these in your summer garden and watch your garden take flight! Happy summer gardening. The BUZZZZZZZ about Bees By AMY SEADLER, Glacier Run Keeper II T he sun is shining and the weather has finally warmed up! Many of you have already been playing around in your garden. You may have your spring garden set up, but here are some tips on some varieties of plants and vegetables to choose for a summer or fall garden. Did you know that growing na- tive vegetation is not only envi- ronmentally friendly and requires less maintenance but also provides nourishment for a very important creature — THE BEE! Some of us may feel wary of these stringing insects, but if we didn’t have the bee, a large portion of the world’s flowering plants would not ex- ist! They are essential to the entire fabric of life on the planet. Imagine a world without apples, almonds, peaches, blueberries, cherries, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins and even tomatoes! Even though they can self-pollinate, tomatoes that receive visits from bees make more tomatoes and larger ones too. Ac- cording to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (xerces. org), 85 percent of flowering plants need pollinators (like bees, birds, butterflies and bats) to reproduce. Bees are great for your garden! Unfortunately, bees, like many large creatures, are having a popu- lation decline because of human activities. Habitat loss, parasites, disease, climate change and pesti- cides are all hurting the population of bees and other pollinators. In ad- dition, bees are declining due to a 16 • Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Summer 2018 mysterious phenomenon known as colony-collapse disorder, which can be caused by changes to habitat, environmental stress and pesticides. Want to invite bees into your gar- den? Here are a few suggestions! First, be sure to plant native plants including perennials. Yellow, blue or purple colored flowers are most attractive to bees. Herbs like basil and cilantro are also good choices if some of the herbs are allowed to flower. Reconsider your pesticide use. Try to cut down or eliminate pesticides in your yard. Provide the bees with a water source. Bees also need to drink water. Providing a large flat stone with a shallow basin makes a fantastic bee water fountain. You can also create or buy a mason bee house — they provide great habitat for these non-stinging mason bees while using little space. Whatever decision you make will benefit the bees, humans and our environment. Let’s keep the bees buzzing!