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Future engineering gurus plant flowers for pollinators

4H club wanted an experiment and Master Gardener leader came through

Julie Weisenhorn, Extension Horticulturist

4H Engineering Club of Lyon and Lincoln counties
plant annual seeds for the Flowers for Pollinators study

The Lynd Community Center was a bee hive of activity on Saturday, May 5th as 11 members of the 4H Engineering Club of Lincoln and Lyon Counties joined the effort to help pollinators by starting seeds for their own Flowers for Pollinators studies. Five other 4H groups from Redwood county and another in Lincoln county will also participate.

Flowers for Pollinators (F4P), now in its 4th year at various MN sites, asks the question "Are annuals attractive to pollinators?" The 4H club of elementary and middle school youth is led by Extension Master Gardener Stephanie DeJaeghere. The club wanted to conduct some kind of experiment and DeJaeghere had heard about the F4P as an Extension volunteer. 

The club members - and their dedicated parents - started six of the 30 F4P varieties for planting and evaluation in their own gardens:
  1. Dwarf sunflower 'Suntastic bicolor pink' - blooms early, pollen-less yet attracts bees, large pink
    Seed packets and plant labels for the 6 varieties
    to dusky yellow flowers with black centers
  2. Melampodium 'Showstar' - prolific bloomer all season, small gold daisy-like flowers
  3. Zinnia 'Zahara Starlight Rose' - small bushy zinnia, white flowers with rosy center
  4. Zinnia 'Old Mexico' - prolific bloomer; red and gold medium sized flowers
  5. Cosmos 'Double Take' - Blooms more in mid to late summer; pinks and whites
  6. Marigold 'Bambino' - deep gold, medium flowers, low and bushy

They'll be evaluating the plants for insect activity and recording insects visits on the flowers. A F4P blog and an Instagram account (flowers4pollinators) are available for the club members to report their experiences and observations.

UMN Extension 4H Program Coordinator for Lyon county, Sam Jens, was so interested in the study that he and DeJaeghere decided to plant two study sites at the Lyon County fairgrounds.

Follow the progress of the Lyon county 4H Engineering club on the F4P blog!

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