January 2005


Tall Fernleaf Fiddleneck or Bee Plant  – Phacelia tanacetifolia

Origin: South Western USA and Mexico



As we start the New Year, the focus will be on those plants which represent rich biodiversity, playing host to countless organisms in order to encourage a well-balanced ecosystem. With this in mind, we will start with a plant commonly known as "the bee plant."

The Phacelia is highly attractive to honeybees, bumblebees and other valuable pollinators. It provides both pollen for protein (which is needed for egg production) and nectar for carbohydrates (which is needed for energy). Phacelia's habit of quick growth and long flowering make it ideal for an insectary plant.

Used in California vineyards, Phacelia is being imported to Europe where it works well as a cover crop and as bee forage. An annual, it thrives in moist, well-drained soil in partially shaded conditions since the seed requires dark for good germination. However, it is hardy enough to tolerate full sun and does require a minimum of thirteen hours of daylight to initiate flowering.

Although it is known as a California wildflower, the Phacelia is highly adaptable to a wide range of climatic regions and growing conditions. The soft lavender blue flowers open approximately six to eight weeks after germination, inviting beneficial insects to the garden for an additional six to eight weeks.