good reads: pollen-stealing bees, thinking local for monarchs, and more

links collage novemberFROM MY READING LIST in recent days, the latest links include a range of topics from how certain bees are “pollen thieves,” why thinking local with milkweed is key to monarch health, pineapple lilies get a thumb’s-up (and so does my friend Alana Chernila). 

some bees are not pollinators but ‘pollen thieves’

COUNT THIS among things I didn’t know: Some bees visiting flowers are not actually doing the job of pollinating, but are in fact “pollen thieves.” A study from the University of Stirling in the UK, reported in Science Daily, reveals the details.

9780385346153yummy imperfection: alana chernila on ‘splendid table’

IT WAS THRILLING to hear the familiar voice of friend and cookbook author Alana Chernila on NPR, specifically on “The Splendid Table,” talking about best intentions for cooking, and living. Plus: Get recipes for Alana’s popovers (they’ll transform any meal) and stuffed winter squash (think: Thanksgiving side dish). Find Alana anytime at her website.

to help monarchs, think local with that milkweed

‘PLANT MILKWEED” is a bit too vague a directive, it turns out, if you want to support monarch butterflies to the fullest. New research explains that for best monarch health, not just any milkweed, but specifically local sources of it, plus attention to the soil it’s planted in, are key factors. Catch up on findings from scientists at Emory University and the University of Michigan on the Wildlife Society website.

eucomis bicolor in a pot

industry validation: eucomis in pots get thumbs-up

I’VE BEEN GROWING pineapple-lily bulbs in pots for many years, adding to my collection as more varieties reach the market. I had to smile to see that now my addiction has been validated by esteemed plantsman Allan Armitage, in the trade publication “Greenhouse Grower.” Now you can take it from not just me but the much more famous professor and author: Order some for spring delivery.

    1. margaret says:

      In the spring bulb catalogs they are sold, so for example from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (again: for spring shipment, not now when only fall-planted things are sold) or rarer kinds in pots from sellers of unusual plants, including Plant Delights Nursery.

    2. Joan Weed says:

      I’ve been growing them and saving the bulbs for a decade or more now. I actually bought my first ones at Costco in a packaged bulb display. But have since bought more from Plants Delight Nursery (NC), and Zimmerman and McLure(or vice versa). Try googling them and I am sure they’ll pop up. Use Eucomis if Pineapple lily doesn’t work. Look for ‘Sparkling Burgundy’. It really does sparkle with nectar when in bloom. I overwinter them in a cardboard box with no special attention except out of freezing temps.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Nancy. In the spring bulb catalogs they are sold, so for example from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (again: for spring shipment, not now when only fall-planted things are sold) or rarer kinds in pots from sellers of unusual plants, including Plant Delights Nursery.

  1. Tracy says:

    I planted a zillion pineapple lilies in pots and loved them this year. Can you advise me how best to overwinter them in my zone 5-6 Westchester, NY climate? I know they’re hot hardy. So far, I’ve cut back all foliage to soil level and moved them into an unseated but attached to the house garage. Should I remove them from the soil? Leave in the pots and water sparingly or not at all? I will want to repot them next spring — fewer per pot. Appreciate the advice.

  2. Katy Jones says:

    I’ve been growing 3 different Eucomis in huge terracotta pots for over a decade. Eucomis bicolor has a rather busy coloration including dark burgundy and chartreuse; in part sun, it pairs well with the dark stems of maidenhair ferns. Eucomis autumnalis looks fantastic with Scaevola; the simple combination of white, bright green, and masses of blue never fails to draw raves, especially in the early evening light. My Eucomis comosa always produces wonderful burgundy leaves that go green in the fall, yet in 10 years of trying bulbs in pots, in the ground, fertilized and not, in sun or shade, I have never had a single bloom, but use it as a foliage/filler in bare spots in the garden where I might otherwise be tempted to tuck in an annual.

    It’s not necessary to remove the bulbs from the soil for the winter if you have room for the pots indoors. I don’t, so I unpot the bulbs, knock off a lot of the soil, MARK THEM AS TO TYPE, and store them in single layers between sheets of newspaper inside slatted plastic crates, start them indoors in late April here in zone 5b, and carefully pot up outside in mid-May.

    1. margaret says:

      Agree, Katy; I leave them in the pots in my cellar, dark and dry and 40s F (could be a little warmer, I think, but that’s how my cellar is).

  3. Mark says:

    Darnit, Margaret. I just majorly downsized my tender/tropical bulb and tuber collection and you had to go and show these. I’m thinking I can bring the plants into bud at my sunny community garden plot and move them to my more shady backyard deck for the flowers to open. See? I’m already stragetizing. So much for cutting back on pots!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.