07 February 2010

Phacelia tanacetifolia - Purple Tansy

The Bountiful Gardens 2010 catalog lists Phacelia tanacetifolia - 1250 seeds for $2.25. Lavender flowers, forms dense carpet, helps soil hold moisture, prevents weeds between plants and rows AND attracts beneficial insects. Plus, makes good compost.

Anything to attract pollinators gets my eye. I ordered the seeds this morning. Do you grow Phacelia Purple Tansy? I'm asking because the cultivation information is contradictory from site to site.

Small Farm Success says it is planted widely in California vineyards.
Grows quickly, one of the top 20 bee attracting plants, high quality nectar for a long period with abundant flowers.
It's native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, needs dark and cool soil - 37 to 68-degrees to germinate, spring planted seeds flower 6 to 8 weeks after germination, and requires 13 hours of light to flower.
AND - if you want your crops pollinated, plant purple tansy to bloom at a different time because pollinators will avoid your crop in favor of tansy's nectar.

Photo from TAMU Aggie Hort

Their advice is to plant in 60-70-degree soil at 1-16th of an inch deep. Germinates in 15 to 30 days, grows to a foot tall. Blooms April - July. "Produces an abundant quantity of nectar which butterflies and bees find hard to resist."

U.C. Berkeley News has an interesting read about bee supporting plantings that is worth the read if you are one of us who care about bees. The article is about entomologist, Gordon Frankie, who runs tests on what bees will be attracted to in urban settings.
Purple tansy is one of the plants they use - the bees get purple legs from eating the pollen.
AND they have a website called Urban Bee Gardens that has more interesting and amusing reading.

There are dozens of pictures at Cal Photos

Larner Seeds - a California native seed supplier has a photo here.

Their site says Phacelia tanacetifolia or Tansy-leaf Phacelia
Annual with bright-blue flowers gives a fuzzy effect. Good in sun or shade, it grows 1-4' high. Fragrant. Good cut flower. In agriculture, used as a cover crop and interplanted with field crops to attract beneficial insects.

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