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 Flowers that bloom before apples 
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1314
Location: Portland, OR
Post Flowers that bloom before apples
A friend of mine wanted to ask "I read that some organic apple orchardists recommend planting flowers for pollinators that blossom just before or after, but not during, the apple's own bloom time. I suppose this is based on the notion of avoiding competition. Any suggestions on flowers that would accommodate this? Particularly "before".?
Thanks<
John S
PDX OR for a friend

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Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:34 am
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Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:10 am
Posts: 93
Location: Corvallis
Post Re: Flowers that bloom before apples
I wonder if it is really a concern, at least outside of commercial orchards. How often do people with an apple tree complain about inadequate pollination, especially if there is another apple tree somewhere in the vicinity? And they may have neighbors who have plants that bloom at the same time; no control over that.

No studies to back this up, but my guess is that if somebody has both flowers and apple trees blooming at the same time, they will simply get more bees. The bees will detect, and communicate to the other bees, that there is a lot of food available. My observation is that when multiple plants are in bloom in my yard, there are bees all over.

I've also read the suggestion to plant other flowering plants to attract bees and other pollinators. If anything this makes more sense, as more bees will end up detecting the yard. My guess is that this is probably not necessary in most settings - the bees will find the fruit trees - but a polyculture seems better than a monoculture.

I don't know flowers, but my suggestion is that your friend plant whatever flowers would be most pleasing, and not be concerned. I don't believe any flowers will compete with the apple trees for bees, certainly not to the extent that the tress get neglected.


Tue Apr 23, 2013 1:48 pm
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Joined: Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:10 am
Posts: 93
Location: Corvallis
Post Re: Flowers that bloom before apples
Just looked after getting home this evening. In my yard just now there are apple trees, mustard greens, arugula, and rosemary all blooming within a few feet of each other. All had bees on them. As frantic as bees have historically gotten for the mustard green blossoms, I would think those to be more of a competitor than flowers.


Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:43 pm
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Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 10:57 am
Posts: 1314
Location: Portland, OR
Post Re: Flowers that bloom before apples
Another anonymous answer:
I think the apple blossoms are tasty enough that the pollinators will go to them as well.

Do you have witch hazel for the early pollinators? and of course they like hazelnuts.

I would like bulbs planted under my fruit trees. They bloom over such a long period of time if you get a good mix of kinds, and they die down so you can pick the fruit as the summer wanes and in the winter you can walk around and prune without damaging anything. Another thing I want to do is Strawberries. they make a nice mat.

I saw a suggestion - make and plant your asparagus bed, and then plant strawberries. The theory - Asparagus is deep rooted and will come up through the strawberries, and the strawberries of course are shallow rooted. I think they would be pretty together. and since you don't "pull" either one, the roots will not be disturbed.

Have a good day. I better get busy.

From ? to John S, PDX OR to you.


Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:44 pm
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