If you want lots of bees and hoverflies in your garden then phacelia (native to the Americas) is a good choice. It can be sown from spring to late summer and its mauve flowers, delicately scented, provide nectar all day long for foraging insects. The hoverflies can return the favour by also eating the aphid pests.
On the soil front, I grow it at the allotment as a cover crop. This year I sowed it in mid summer after I had harvested the broad bean plot. It is always good to keep bare earth covered, and the fleshy, ferny vegetation supresses weeds and holds on to nitrogen.
I also grow it as a green manure (other examples: clover, mustard, rye, alfalfa, fenugreek, field beans). Traditionally phacelia, like mustard, is ‘dug in’ before it flowers to stop it seeding. But I prefer the ‘and’ and ‘and’ approach, so I leave it to become bee pasture. Also, I’m trying not to do too much digging, an activity which apparently disrupts the soil’s natural fertility-enhancing systems. Instead, I let it over-winter, or at least until the first frost when it will simply collapse. I‘ll then leave the resultant ‘mulch’ to go on protecting the soil surface from leaching and fertility loss. Meanwhile the root system will rot down and help to improve soil structure.
With any luck, come next spring, I should be able to plant or sow directly through it.
If I’ve sown the seed too thickly, which is easy to do as it is very small, I thin out some of the excess growth through the growing season to feed the compost bins. Or best of all, pick a now-and-then bunch of flowers and bring them home for the kitchen table. Such a generous, life-enhancing plant.
KindaSquare #1 October is here and Becky bids us to show her all ‘kinds’ of squares. Please pay her visit to find out more. As ever, the main ‘rule’ is the header photo must be square.
28 thoughts on “Phacelia: Bee-Kind & Soil-Kind”
oh isn’t this a gorgeous and useful plant – I more than kinda like it I love it!
PS and just loving the intro to Kinda Squares too 😀
So happy it hits the spot 🙂
It is very nice. I grew some a couple of years ago as part of a mixed bag of wild seeds to cover a new bed. I hoped it would self seed but it didn’t. As you say, the bees and other pollinators love it.
New to me but I will look into it. Sounds good.
Oh, very kinda!
🙂 🙂 🙂
Love that first shot, Tish. 🙂 🙂 Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
V. fuzzy little bee, isn’t s/he?
Yes 🙂 🙂
Love these flowers – and your words about them.
Thank you, A-C.
i love the first shot! all gorgeous and beautiful! like minds indeed! 🙂 🙂
More power to the like minds 🙂
Oh I live this beauty Phacelia and what a nice soul helper too
It is a lovely flower, Yvette. Hope you are well.
Not heard of this one Tish, but what a useful and beautiful plant it is. Must check out if it tolerates our climate.
I gather it belongs to the borage family.
What beauties, both flowers and bees!
Thanks, Janet. We’ve good bees this year.
I recently saw a documentary about using mulch to imitate a natural soil. Lovely flowers 💐
Thanks, Sherry. I am a mulch fanatic. It’s great for encouraging worm activity in the soil underneath.
Also important not to till to encouraging mycelium and microorganisms.
Serendipity: this morning I saw a note I’d left myself to check out Phacelia as a cover crop/green manure. I hadn’t heard of it, and am encouraged to know that you find it useful (and very pretty).
A happy find then, from my garden to yours 🙂