- Author: Christine Casey
The April bee plant of the month is not one plant. Instead it is the many California wildflowers that are bloom from late winter through spring, reaching their peak in early April. These plants lovely to look at and they give a uniquely California feel to a garden. Some also provide critical bee forage in late winter and early spring when few other plants are flowering.
Here are some of the more-commonly grown species, listed in approximate order of bloom. Also listed are the bees most commonly observed on each, when that information is well-described.
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica): bumble bees and sweat bees
Chinese Houses (Collinsia heterophylla) Megachilidae: mason bees and leafcutter bees
Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila menziesii) Megachilidae: mason bees and leafcutter bees
Five spot (Nemophila maculata). Megachilidae: mason bees and leafcutter bees
Tidy Tips (Layia platyglossa)
Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata)
Birds Eye (Gilia tricolor)
Farewell-to-Spring (Clarkia spp.): many plant species, each with a specialist bee species
Lupine (Lupinus spp.): many species of this plant, bumble bees are common
Phacelia (Phacelia spp.): many plant species, bumble bees and honey bees are common
While some of these plants can be purchased at garden centers, the best way to grow them is to broadcast seed in the fall; they will all germinate and survive on normal rainfall. Seed mixes are available, or you can purchase seeds of individual species and make your own mix.
The Haven's wildflowers are just starting to bloom. Pictured here are flowers from my own bee garden in Woodland, just north of Davis.