Author Topic: Heirloom perennials?  (Read 3661 times)

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Offline Bakersdozen

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Heirloom perennials?
« on: January 10, 2016, 07:44:25 am »
Does anyone know if heirloom perennials are more bee friendly than the everyday version?  I hope that made sense.  The one heirloom that comes to mind would be an old rose that has a great scent.  I am inclined to think that the term "heirloom" doesn't really make much of a difference when referring to bee friendly plants. 
I know that the hybridized versions of natives produce less nectar and pollen.  Example: purple coneflowers.  Nectar is sacrificed to get a unique bloom.  They don't attract any pollinators.
I am itching to start some perennial seeds.  Burpees carries a couple of interesting heirlooms.  Bonariensis Verbena, which I have seen and it is a honey bee magnet planted in a large group.  Also, Licorice Sweet Marigold looks interesting.  I am not familiar with it, but the flower looks very honey bee friendly

Does anyone have any thoughts, experience or suggestions?

Offline Newbee

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Re: Heirloom perennials?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2016, 04:52:14 pm »
Hi Bakersdozen, I know EXACTLY what you mean. I usually start getting "the itch" around this time of year, too. I'm living in a temporary rental-house at the moment and won' have a garden at all this year. I started receiving all the seed-catalogs a couple weeks ago. I expect full-blown DT's in a few weeks. :D
I don't know if Heirloom type flowers generally are better for foragers or not, but generally try to stick to heirlooms in cases where self-seeding is an issue. The idea you postulate makes sense, however there may be some that run the opposite (e.g. bred for greater nectar).
I used to print the seed packets for Burpee among others. There are some great seed companies out there these days. Check out:

I have used both companies and been very happy (Heirloom solutions has some hard-to-find healing/medicinal herbs). Botanical Interests has a "Pollinator Friendly" and "Attracts Bees" section in their catalog (and they're really nice people, too!)

In my yard last year Bee Balm and Butterfly Milkweed were constantly being visited. I also used to see them on Irish Bells when I had those.

- Kevin
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Re: Heirloom perennials?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2016, 09:44:01 pm »
Most of my heirloom perennials have bulbs, but what the bees really like right now is broccoli in bloom and since I have been busy and not picking I have a good supply