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The objective of our research is to improve flowering plant selection for pollinator habitat enhancement by comparing “true” native species to native cultivars in terms of their ability to attract and support native pollinators.  Our research project also aims to disseminate information to horticulturalists, agriculturalists, and home gardeners about the importance of native pollinator habitat and methods for establishing and/or restoring habitat to support beneficial native pollinator populations.

About our research plots

A controlled field study was conducted to help determine if cultivars of native flowering plants are as attractive to beneficial pollinators and provide the same nectar and pollen resources as true native species. Two field plots were installed, monitored and maintained during the 2012-2015 growing seasons at three farms in Vermont.

What’s growing at our research plots?

Our main research plots are located at Riverberry Farm in Fairfax, Vermont, and Maidstone Plant Farm in Maidstone, Vermont. Riverberry Farm is in the Champlain valley of northwestern Vermont and Maidstone Plant Farm is in the upper Connecticut River Valley of northeastern Vermont. Each plot is an approximately 3000 sq. ft. randomized complete block experimental design, with three replicates per site, and contains a total of 540 plants.

Fourteen species of native herbaceous flowering perennial species were selected for the study alongside 14 cultivars of the same species. All species are native to the Northeastern U.S. and are frequently recommended for pollinator habitat enhancement. Flower species were also selected based on their availability. Efforts were made to include a diversity of flower colors, flower structures, and bloom times.

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