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Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:48 am
by Odsox
I need some help from gardeners who grow flowers.
I'm trying to grow melons in my greenhouse hydroponically and they are growing very well, especially considering this awful weather we've been having. They are producing masses of female flowers along with male flowers but so far no sign of any swelling into fruit.
I have been pollinating by hand for several weeks but to no avail. What I need to do is attract bees into the greenhouse to do the job properly.
So, what I need is suggestions for an annual bedding plant that is highly perfumed, that is a small compact plant that flowers all summer long. Apparently the plant needs to be a single flower type, not double or multi petalled (RHS) and highly perfumed to attract them to my semi subterranean greenhouse.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:31 pm
by Flo
Blue, purple, yellow are good colours. Rosemary is a great favourite if you have one in a tub in flower. Calendula (pot marigold which you can eat) or tagetes will help as these do attract pollinators. Lavender if you have one in a tub. Nasturtiums too. All ones that I can vouch for!

Bit late to put in clover now but think of tubs of red clover for next year or even good old white which is also busy on my allotment. My phacelia is full of bees but that's a bit tall for indoors, likewise foxgloves.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:58 pm
by diggernotdreamer
One plant that may fit the bill is heliotrope or cherry pie, it flowers all summer long, has a sweet scent and you can also get a dwarf variety, you could interplant it with sweet alyssum which also flowers all summer and can be overwintered and will flower early in the year. I tend to grow phacelia, it really does attract the bees but it does get a bit sprawley in the tunnel

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:59 am
by bonniethomas06
Pot marigold? (Calendula?) they grow so fast you would have a greenhouse full in about two months! Otherwise there is a yellow and white flowered plant a bit like a weed that I can't for the life of me remember the name of - we used to call it the eggplant, but it isn't aubergine. Anyone remember? It grew really fast too.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:15 pm
by Odsox
I think you mean Poached Egg plant, Limnanthes.
Thanks for your suggestions Flo and Bonnie, but what I really need is a plant that is really highly perfumed. My greenhouse is below ground level and not easy for flying insects to get into, which is a real benefit for some insects (root flies) but not for pollinators. I did wonder about Lavender though.
My apricot tree attracts bumble bees wholesale, it has a moderately strong perfume but mainly as it flowers in February it is really the only show in town. In June, July & August it needs a flowering plant with a lot of "pulling power".

Thanks for your suggestion DnD, I've never grown Heliotrope and looking it up it looks like a good candidate.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 1:10 pm
by diggernotdreamer
I expect a good garden centre should have some large plugs of heliotrope, they are quite popular

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2016 2:14 pm
by bonniethomas06
Ah, sorry misread that - yes, smellier the better then. Good luck!

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2016 10:23 am
by bonniethomas06
Thought of you this morning as I walked past our lavender hedge...bees all over it!

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 7:32 am
by Green Aura
I'd go with big pots of alyssum. Heavenly honey-like smell.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2016 12:36 pm
by Odsox
bonniethomas06 wrote:Thought of you this morning as I walked past our lavender hedge...bees all over it!

Funnily enough, we went to Lidl this morning and they had racks of huge lavender plants in 8" pots, so I bought one.
Now transferred to the greenhouse, so we will see ........

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Sun Jul 17, 2016 1:30 pm
by Odsox
Well it worked :cheers:
Not the lavender, which I've discovered is only fragrant when you brush the leaves.
Flo wrote:tubs of red clover

That's working a treat Flo, but was accidental. I had a trough of strawberries outside since last year and brought it into the greenhouse about a month ago. The strawberries have stopped fruiting now, but huge blooms of red clover have sprung up in the trough and are smothered in bees, even on a gloomy overcast day like today.

I will have to pay attention to companion flower plants next year, not something I know much about so will have to read up on the subject.

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:05 pm
by Odsox
Flo wrote:Bit late to put in clover now but think of tubs of red clover for next year or even good old white

There you go, Flo, proof that your suggestion of clover worked. :salute:
I now have 6 of them in various stages of growth, but no ripe ones quite yet.

The Lavender was useless. :iconbiggrin:

Melons.jpg
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Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:35 pm
by Thomzo
Hi. I know you're sorted for this year - and very good they look too. I've got sweet peas in my greenhouse. I know they're not the compact plant you were looking for but they don't take up much space if you tie them up the side and they do smell very strongly.

Zoe

Re: Perfumed flowers to attract bees

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2016 6:43 am
by Flo
Glad the clover worked for you Thomzo - one of my accidental discoveries over the years. I'll throw you another one - if you grow various herbs for house use (thymes, majoram, in particular) these are also great for bees when they flower. Good in tubs and dual purpose. Perhaps along side the clover you could have a really long season indoors or out.