Presentation Title

Evaluation of Commercial Pollinator Seed Mixes for Western Oregon

Start Date

February 2018

End Date

February 2018

Abstract

There are many pollinator seed mixes available on the commercial market, but not all are likely to establish and perform well in our region, or provide high quality pollinator habitat. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a number of commercially available pollinator mixes for use in western Oregon. This 3-year study, started in the fall of 2014 at the Corvallis Plant Materials Center (PMC), includes small plots of seven different commercial pollinator mixes seeded at a standardized rate of 60 seeds/ft2. Plots were monitored every two to four weeks throughout the 2015, 2016, and 2017 bloom seasons (late February through September) for plant canopy cover, bloom period, flower abundance, and pollinator visitation. Results from the first three years of the study showed that most mixes had at least three species in bloom in early, mid and late season for their first year of establishment, but diversity tended to drop the second year, with many plots dominated by just a few species the second year (lupines in particular). The “standard” Xerces Society (comprised almost exclusively of Willamette Valley native species) mix appeared to attract the most native bees, while some of the other seed mixes (containing non-native species) attracted more European honey bees.

Subjects

Habitat restoration, Habitat assessment, Plant ecology

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Evaluation of Commercial Pollinator Seed Mixes for Western Oregon

There are many pollinator seed mixes available on the commercial market, but not all are likely to establish and perform well in our region, or provide high quality pollinator habitat. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a number of commercially available pollinator mixes for use in western Oregon. This 3-year study, started in the fall of 2014 at the Corvallis Plant Materials Center (PMC), includes small plots of seven different commercial pollinator mixes seeded at a standardized rate of 60 seeds/ft2. Plots were monitored every two to four weeks throughout the 2015, 2016, and 2017 bloom seasons (late February through September) for plant canopy cover, bloom period, flower abundance, and pollinator visitation. Results from the first three years of the study showed that most mixes had at least three species in bloom in early, mid and late season for their first year of establishment, but diversity tended to drop the second year, with many plots dominated by just a few species the second year (lupines in particular). The “standard” Xerces Society (comprised almost exclusively of Willamette Valley native species) mix appeared to attract the most native bees, while some of the other seed mixes (containing non-native species) attracted more European honey bees.