Bloom Box

Frequently Asked Questions

Bloom Box Frequently Asked Questions

Can I trade one category of plants for more of another?

The Bloom Box is designed to include a set ratio of spring bloomers, summer bloomers, fall bloomers and grasses so that something is always blooming. Grasses are important for many reasons listed below. While Bloom Box is designed to create a good foundation for a pollinator garden, it can also be used to supplement an existing garden. Although we don’t allow any substitution of categories based on existing plants, you can use the “Is there anything else we should know” comment box on the application to advise us of specific plants you have many of and we will do our best to compliment them.

Grasses don’t “bloom” -why are they included in Bloom Box?

When planting for pollinators, flowers that provide nectar are often the first thing we think of; but a well-rounded habitat includes much more.

Good pollinator habitat includes:

  • food (both adult and larval)
  • shelter from weather
  • a place to lay eggs
  • water
  • safety from pesticides.

Native grass species can provide all of these. Some examples are: Big Bluestem which is a major pollen source for native bees, many sedge species which are larval hosts, hollow stem grasses which provide nesting habitat, sturdy grasses that shelter insects from harsh weather. They also hold droplets of water for drinking and a thick stand of grass can provide a “pesticide” break from chemicals used by neighbors. Aside from their direct benefit to pollinators, grasses are an important part of a native garden. Bloom Box is designed with native plants and intended to be planted as a prairie/meadow style garden. Grasses give structure to flowering plants that need support, help cover ground to prevent weeds, provide interest and structure to the garden in fall and winter, and are some of the first green leaves in spring. We feel that grasses are an important part of pollinator habitat and are important for the long-term success of a garden.

Why isn’t the mature width of the plant listed?

In the prairie, plants are not spaced, based on their maximum mature size, and mulched in between. They grow close together, supporting each other and crowding out weeds. The plants used in Bloom Box are adapted to grow this way, close together with little space in between, while weeds are more opportunistic and will take over open spaces. The planting design included in Bloom Box is set up this way, with the plants categorized by size and the spacing for that category listed on the design card. Bloom Box was created with a focus on native plants, and gardening with native plants is most successful in a prairie style garden.

What’s the big deal about mulch?

In a prairie style garden, close plant spacing removes the need for mulch after the first few years. While the plants establish a light layer of mulch (preferably straw or grass for perennials rather than wood) helps hold in moisture and keep down weeds. As the plants mature they are better able to reach water and fill in to shade out weeds. Prairie plants don’t appreciate having deep mulch right at their base. Mulch that is too deep can often be the cause of plants that are slow to mature or are struggling to survive.

I received plants that are going dormant in my fall Bloom Box, are they safe to plant?

We prefer to ship only actively growing plants, however, the habit of spring blooming plants is to go dormant earlier than others in the fall which may dictate that you receive a plant in the process of going dormant. Autumn is on its way, and we don’t force growth on our plants or spray them with pesticides so they might have a few blemishes on the leaves. While dormant plants are no less healthy than spring plants, we understand that they can look less appealing. We do not ship plants without utmost confidence that they can make it through the winter.

If you are concerned that you received an unhealthy plant please contact us before planting with a picture and we can discuss whether it is going dormant or needs to be replaced.

Is there a guarantee for plants that don’t survive?

Our horticulture program is confident in its plants and does not offer a guarantee in order to keep prices down. We do our best to ensure the health of each Bloom Box when it is packed, that it is packed well in shredded paper and that the shipping time is short. If you believe that you have received a plant in poor health, please contact us with a picture before planting.

Is the Bloom Box a good fit for honey bees?

Yes! A Bloom Box garden helps create a healthy environment for any pollinator including honey bees. Honey bees appreciate many of the same plants that our native bees do and Bloom Box can help provide them with a long term food source that is close to home and protected from chemicals. However, the Bloom Box aims to create well-rounded habitat for native pollinators so we cannot remove the parts of the program that aren’t as geared toward honey bees.

Why am I required to post a sign and register for the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge?

The Bloom Box program was created by the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, the University of Nebraska Department of Entomology and the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET). Collectively our goal was not only to get physical pollinator habitat planted in our communities but also to educate people about the dangers of a declining pollinator population and what they can do to help. NET funded the grant that allowed us to offer a rebate and in return we ask that you help contribute to public education.

The sign helps to communicate to your neighbors that you are creating pollinator habitat and an important part of that habitat is protection from chemicals. The sign can also help start the conversation about pollinators and allow you to share what you know about the challenges that pollinators are facing and why they are so important.

The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge is an initiative of the Pollinator Partnership with the same goal: to encourage people to plant habitat for pollinators. The Pollinator Partnership manages a website that maps every pollinator garden reported to them as a research and educational tool. We asked you to register your garden to contribute to this efforts.