• Deborah Kade

Buzzing bees

Since we are staying close to home, I decided to go out in the yard behind the house to take pictures.

My friend Rosie has bought me many photography magazines and books. There was an article on photographing bees so I thought I might give it a try.

The bees were attracted to the desert marigold.

Nothing speaks of the low desert spring as the rambunctious bloom of desert marigold and the bees were definitely attracted to them. The desert marigold is a member of the Asteraceae family. The members of this family are characterized by individual florets arranged in dense heads making the floret group look like one single flower. On the marigold, the clusters form a head 2 inches in diameter and are bright yellow in color. The leaves are green with silver-white hairs, lobed, and grow very low on the thick stems.

These plants can be found growing on sandy or gravelly soils of roadsides, plains, washes, mesas, and pinyon-juniper communities.

Desert marigolds can be found across southern Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Utah, south into Sonora Mexico, and through the Chihuahuan Desert to Texas.

Desert marigolds are considered perennial plants and therefore live for more than two growing seasons.

They can grow to be 1-2 feet tall and 2 feet across.

Desert marigold either fresh or dried, are poisonous to goats and sheep, but not to cattle or horses.

Desert marigold grows twelve inches tall and wide with fuzzy greenish-gray leaves and a compact, mounded shape. While a short-lived plant, it beautifies the landscape by producing bright yellow, daisy-like blossoms that grow on long stems. The plant blooms through he early spring and into the summer months, and may intermittently bloom all year, except during the cold weather. Cut flowers can last for a long time, and a large amount of seed is present in the flower heads; collect the seeds when the flowers fade, and allow seeds to dry.  This plant can also take hold and germinate in disturbed areas along roadsides. Use it as a summer color or re-vegetation plant, in containers, or in desert rock gardens with cacti to add a touch of color to an area. It is a good companion plant to verbena and penstemon.

Desert marigold is hardy to about ten degrees Fahrenheit and drought-tolerant, needing little rainfall or irrigation to thrive. Do not over-water this plant. If given too much water it will rot and die very quickly. Plant the desert marigold in well-draining, rocky soil with no organic mulch. It likes full sun conditions and reflected heat. Lightly prune it and remove spent blooms to encourage additional flowers.

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