Description. Phacelia belongs to the genus of the Forget-me-not (Boraginaceae) family, which grow in the North and South America. These are annual and perennial herbaceous plants. They have branched stems, usually erect and hispid. The leaves of this plant are smooth-edged subopposite or opposite, the pedicel is rather short. Colors of flowers are white, purple, azure, blue, and sometimes yellow. The plant flowers from June to September, depending on the species. There are about 80 species in the genus. There are several varieties of plants such as: phacelia campanularia, phacelia tanacetifolia, phacelia congesta.
The main value of the phacelia is that it is an excellent nectariferous plant. Phacelia also looks rather decorative, thanks to the bright flowers.
Honey, harvested from phacelia, has lightness, a pleasant aroma and a very delicate taste.
The honey of this plant has a slightly greenish cast or it is transparent, it is good for the wintering of bees, because it does not crystallize in honeycombs.
Planting a phacelia is customary in sunny sites with well drained light and fertile soil. The plant is not exacting to the soil and can be grown on chernozems, loamy and peaty soils. Phacelia grows in the shade and half-shade, but still prefers sunny sites. The seeds are germinated at a temperature of 3-4 degrees. Phacelia is badly affected by prolonged waterlogging of the soil. The plant is characterized by rapid growth and a set of green mass. Phacelia tolerates autumn frosts well.
It will be correct to sow this plant immediately to a permanent place by seeds in April-May, since transplants are perceived by phacelia negatively. After about 5-8 days, the braird will appear, after which they need to be singled out, observing the distance between the plants of 10-15 cm. To obtain a plentiful flowering of the phacelia, it must be fertilized with a complex mineral fertilizer twice. The first flowers appear in 1-1.5 months after sowing. Flowering lasts for 2 months.
When growing a plant on beds, its roots loosen and structurize the soil well, the heavy soil becomes light and free-flowing. And as a result, the growth of the plant improves, there ripen large and delicious fruits. During winter, phacelia protects the soil from erosion, drought well and contributes to the accumulation of moisture. In addition, phacelia changes the soil acidity level, supplies the soil with mineral and organic substances, prevents the development of late blight, root rot and other diseases, prevents the growth of weeds, attracts bees and bumblebees to the vegetable garden, thereby improving pollination and infructescence. And also its flowers attract insects, which eat many garden pests.
During phacelia leaves decomposition, nitrogen is released, which is necessary for favorable development of plants. In addition, it will save on manure and other fertilizers for the soil. The most interesting thing is that you can grow garden crops without using fertilizers for 2-3 years. This is one of the main advantages of the phacelia as a green manure crop. Phacelia is very useful for the nearby garden crops and its ability to retain moisture in the soil.
In the countryside, phacelia is mainly cultivated because of its beautiful bright blue-violet flowers. There are also phacelia of white or yellowish color.
It is grown not only as a decorative, but also as a compost plant, as well as a green manure and nectariferous plant.
Application. Phacelia is a wonderful fodder crop for domestic animals, its surpasses vetch-oats and other mixtures according to its nutritional qualities. Animals, using it as a food, are much less sick and gain weight faster. It is an excellent nectariferous and pollen-bearing plant, which contributes to the better pollination and infructescence. With its bright blue flowers, it attracts bees, providing 250-300kg of honey per hectare, and under especially favorable conditions - up to 1 ton. Bees are "grazed" on phacelia even in non-honey-gathering periods - from early spring to late autumn, from early morning to evening.
Phacelia is used as a green manure to improve and increase the yield. To increase the fertility of the soil, sowing of the seeds is carried out several times per season. Sowing of phacelia can be carried out both before winter and in the spring-summer period.