Backyard Pollinator Garden Project

Bee City Los Alamos, an affiliate of the Xerces Society, in collaboration with the Los Alamos Nature Center/Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC), is thrilled to announce the launch of the Backyard Pollinator Garden Project! This exciting new initiative, funded by a grant from the Carroll Petrie Foundation, will provide a selection of native plants to Los Alamos County residents free of charge. These plants, grown without the use of pesticides or fertilizers, have been carefully selected for their hardiness in the Jemez Mountain environment and their crucial benefits to native pollinators.

By encouraging the planting of native pollinator plants in private home gardens & public landscapes, we intend to expand the diversity and number of pollen, nectar and habitat resources for our native pollinators, and to increase connectivity of those resources. Native pollinators, unlike the European and Asian honeybees, are threatened by loss of habitat, pesticide use and climate change. Bee City Los Alamos is committed to doing everything we can to help our native pollinators, and the plants they rely on, to thrive in our communities.

The application is closed for this year due to the overwhelming response. Thank you to everyone who applied! Overflow of applications will go on a waiting list for next year. We have funding for 3 years of this project.

Plant collections will be awarded based on the connectivity of pollinator resources, meaning we’ll be clustering applicants to distribute plants effectively. We encourage you to chat with your neighbors because collaboration could increase your chances of receiving plants next year.

Applicants will be notified by email by June 30th, whether or not they have been selected to receive plants. Plants will be distributed at the Los Alamos Nature Center at 2600 Canyon Drive on Friday, July 19th from 4-6 PM and Saturday, July 20th from 9-11 AM. If you are selected and are unable to pick your plants up on either of these dates, and are unable to have a friend pick them up for you, contact us to make other arrangements. Plants that are not picked up will be given to the next person on the waiting list.

If you aren’t selected to receive a pollinator plant collection this year, don’t worry! You’re invited to pick up a package containing 3 native perennials, a packet of wildflower seeds, and a habitat monitoring folder. You can swing by the PEEC Nature Center on July 19th from 4-6 PM or July 20th from 9-11 AM to collect your goodies.

Here is the plant list for this great project. There may be changes and/or additions to this list as we get closer to the distribution date. Not all of these plants will be in each collection, but a mix of these will be in all collections.

  • Perennials:
  • Aquilegia elegantula | Western Red Columbine: Native perennial to 2 feet tall with red and yellow spurred flowers from May-July. Prefers moist soils in partial to shade. It is pollinated by hummingbirds. Moderately deer resistant.
  • Berlandiera lyrata | Chocolate Daisy: A perennial to 1-2 feet with a chocolate scent. Blooms April to late October or frost. Low water, sun to partial. Will wilt in hot sun but recovers at night. An important pollinator plant and deer resistant.
  • Dalea purpurea | Purple Prairie Clover: A perennial, deciduous subshrub 1-3 feet tall with pretty purple blooms June-September. Low water use, full sun, deer resistant. Attracts butterflies and is of special value to native bees.
  • Gaillardia pinnatifida | Red Dome Blanketflower: A slender perennial to 2 feet tall with yellow ray flowers & a prominent central red dome April-October. Low water use, full sun, somewhat deer tolerant. Attracts large & small native bees & wasps.
  • Helianthus maximilianii | Maximilian Sunflower: A native prairie perennial 3-10 feet tall with a branching structure. Yellow, daisy like flowers of up to 5-inches in size are extremely valuable to native bees & butterflies, and the seeds are eaten by birds. A late season bloomer in late July-frost. Low water, full sun. Prefers moist clay soils but is tolerant of a wide range of soils. Leave the dry stems through winter for stem nesting bees.
  • Linum perenne var lewisii | Blue Flax: Semi-evergreen Perennial to 2 feet tall. Full sun to partial shade. Low to medium water. Pollinated by native bees, flies & butterflies. Blooms early June-October.
  • Penstemon barbatus | Scarlet Bugler Penstemon: Delicately wispy perennial 1-3 feet with scarlet, tubular flowers May-October. Low water, partial shade, dry rocky soils. Of special value to native bees. Also attracts butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, flies and bumblebees.
  • Penstemon eatonii | Firecracker Penstemon: Perennial to 3 feet tall with showy red flowers that hummingbirds love. Blooms April- August. Low water use, partial shade, dry gravelly soils. Of special value to native bees. Leave the dry stems through winter for stem nesting bees.
  • Penstemon strictus | Rocky Mountain Penstemon: A 1-3 foot, evergreen perennial that forms mats of foliage. Beautiful, showy, purple flowers from late May-August. Low water use, partial sun/shade, sandy or rocky soils. Prefers to have good drainage. Of special value to native bees
  • Ratibida columnifera | Upright Prairie Coneflower: Native perennial 1.5 feet to 3 feet tall. Wispy with smaller coneflower type flowers in red and yellow or yellow. Blooms June-September. Drought tolerant and tolerant of many types of well-drained soils. Attracts native bees, butterflies and birds will eat the seeds in the Fall. Deer will eat the flower but the plant is tolerant of browse. Plant has been used medicinally by indigenous peoples. Of special value to native bees.
  • Solidago simplex | Narrow Goldenrod: Perennial to 3 feet tall. Yellow flowers June-September. Of special value to native bees. Drought tolerant. Does not spread like regular Goldenrod.
  • Shrubs
  • Cercocarpus montanus |  Mountain Mahogany: Shrubby Tree 8-20 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Inconspicuous blooms in early Spring. Low water and full sun to partial shade. Larval host to the Mountain Mahogany Hairstreak Butterfly.
  • Chamaebatiaria millifolium | Fernbush: An excellent pollinator shrub of 5-6 feet tall and wide. Very hardy and covered with white flowers July & August. Low water, sun to partial shade, and tolerant of many soil types. Deer resistant.
  • Lonicera involucrata | Twinberry Honeysuckle: A beautifully arching, deciduous shrub of 6-10 feet tall and wide with red flowers and purple berries. Blooms April-August. Prefers more water. Sun to shade. Of special benefit to hummingbirds, birds, butterflies and bumblebees.  It is a larval host for Gillette’s Checkerspot. An excellent shrub if you have a wet area and a bit of room.

Click HERE for the Planting & Maintenance Guidelines for the plants.

Click HERE for a Powerpoint with expanded information about the plants & planting.

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