Pollinator Gardens

Inspired by a variety of efforts around the state, I am taking on some pollinator “garden” and native plant restoration projects.  The biggest effort to date is enhancing the habitat at the Monarch Waystation in the meadow on the south side of the Sam Noble Museum.  My Field Studies in Biological Conservation class will also be installing a pollinator garden at the University of Oklahoma Biological Station.  We are currently growing milkweeds for Monarch butterfly host plants and a variety of native flowers for pollinator nectar sources.  Chloe Paden, undergraduate research assistant, has been germinating five species of milkweeds.  Read about her work below!

Chloe Planting
Chloe Paden, undergraduate research assistant, 2018

March 2018 – Earlier this semester, we began cold stratifying five different species of milkweed: Asclepius speciosa, A. viridis, A. asperula, A. tuberosa, and A. syriaca. After a cold period of four weeks, we moved the seeds to some trays to start germination. The seeds have since germinated and many of the seedlings have already started growing their first pair of true leaves! We have had the best germination rates so far in A. speciosa, but the other seedlings are coming along well, also. We plan to use the information we gather through this process to broaden our understanding of how milkweed species germinate and under what conditions they have the best germination rates. The seedlings, once they have grown large enough, will hopefully be used in a restoration project behind the Sam Noble Museum in the Centennial Prairie and at the OU Biological Station in a brand new pollinator garden!

April 2018 – We have begun preparing the area of the pollinator meadow at the OU Biological Station.   This spring we placed clear plastic over the weedy patch of lawn near the office at the BioStation.  This plastic will solarize the soil until July – killing the plants and seeds that are beneath it.

Area that will soon become a pollinator meadow outside of the office of the OU Biological Station.
Digging a trench to bury the edge of the plastic.
Burying the edge of the plastic to hold it in place.
Phil Swart and Chloe Paden, OU undergraduates, proud of their hard work in this first step of the pollinator meadow.