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Garden for Pollinators — Fall is a Great Time to Plant!

The third Saturday in August is World Honey Bee Day! With 20,000 species worldwide, this day celebrates the importance of bees in our world by helping spread awareness of the dangers bees face, along with suggested ways to help them.

Together with sunlight, soil and water, pollinators play an essential role in flowering plant survival. 80% of all crop plants that feed us rely on pollinators, including ants, beetles, butterflies, flies, birds, hummingbirds, moths, and bees. Pollinator populations have taken a huge hit with habitat loss, climate change, and pesticides. We’re growing plants to help mitigate this problem, and you can help by planting them in your landscape!

Following is a recommended list of plants (including many local natives) that will attract and feed pollinators. They have the most impact when planted in groups in full sun, and of course, you should never use pesticides in your pollinator garden. Pick up a pesticide-free sign for your pollinator plot when you purchase plants and help spread the word.

lead plant

Amorpha canescens

This native shrub grows in woodlands and prairies. 4-8" spike-like clusters of tiny, bluish-purple flowers with gold anthers are unusual. CENTRAL PLAINS NATIVE.

swamp milkweed

Asclepias incarnata

Swamp milkweed sports lightly fragrant flower clusters from early summer through fall. Plants grow 3-5' tall. Choose the pure native pink or the selection called 'Cinderella'. As the name suggests, this species is tolerant of poorly drained sites. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP

false indigo

Baptisia australis

Perennial Plant Association 2010 Perennial Plant of the Year!

Baptisia australis is an upright native perennial which occurs in rich woods, thickets and along stream banks from Pennsylvania south to North Carolina and Tennessee. Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade, false indigo grows best in full sun. Tolerates drought and poor soils. Plants form slowly expanding clumps with deep root systems that should not be disturbed once established. Shearing foliage after bloom helps maintain rounded plant appearance. Beautiful, showy native plant! NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

Related Plants

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purple wine cups

Callirhoe involucrata

Low-growing mounds of cut-leaves are covered with large, purple, cup-shaped flowers all summer. Can self-seed and spread once established. Grows in hideous clay soil, and heat and drought only slow its growth slightly! An excellent border plant and ground cover.

NATIVE TO THE CENTRAL PLAINS.

buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

This deciduous shrub has an open, rounded habit. Common throughout the midwest, it can most frequently be found in wetland areas and ditches, swamps, river bottomland and stream/pond margins. Tiny, tubular, fragrant white flowers appear in dense, long-stalked bunches in early to mid-summer. Flowers have a distinctively pincushion-like appearance and are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Flowers mature into hard spherical ball-like fruits consisting of multiple tiny two-seeded nutlets that usually persist throughout the winter. Attracts Tiger Swallowtail, Painted Lady, Silver-Spotted Skipper butterflies. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP

white prairie clover

Dalea candida

White flowering spikes bloom over airy, delicate foliage. Prefers well-drained soil and full sun. It grows in many types of habitat, including prairie, foothills, woods, forests, and disturbed areas. A great pollinator host and nitrogen fixer. It is a larval host to the clouded sulphur, marine blue, Reakirt's blue, and southern dogface butterfly. Native to North America, where it can be found throughout central Canada, the central United States, and northern Mexico.

purple coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

A prairie native featuring showy purple flowers in July and August on plants that grow to 2-3'. Like its cousins, flowers make great cuts, butterflies are attracted to the flowers and birds appreciate the seed when cones are left to dry. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP

rattlesnake master

Eryngium yuccifolium

Beautiful native growing to 4' tall with glaucus, yucca-like foliage topped with clusters of white, globe-shaped flowers in late summer through early fall. Wonderful ornamental qualities with excellent drought and heat tolerance.

NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE US.

blanketflower

Gaillardia aristata

Blanketflowers are one of the longest-blooming native perennials, well suited to hot sunny sites. Soft-yellow daisy petals with a scarlet eye, surrounding a deep burgundy-red button center. Removing faded flowers will greatly extend the blooming season. Supports a diversity of bees including green metallic sweat bees (Agapostemon spp.), bumblebees, and others who are drawn to the brightly colored flowers. According to Xerces, Gaillardia aristata is also a larval food source for caterpillars of the brilliantly colored gaillardia flower moth (Schinia masoni) and painted schinia (S. volupia), butterflies with wing patterns and colors that mimic blanketflower’s petals. NATIVE TO WESTERN AND NORTHERN NORTH AMERICA.

Maximilian sunflower

Helianthus maximiliani

State flower of Kansas

Clusters of bright yellow flowers in September atop 6-8' stalks. An important livestock food source that also feeds birds. A sensational native with an explosion of huge bright daisies. Give this plant plenty of room to grow! Well-suited to any type of soil, including clay. Songbirds will appreciate the seeds and native bees are fond of the nectar-rich sunflowers.

NATIVE TO MOST OF NORTH AMERICA.

Virginia sweetspire

Itea virginica

'Little Henry' is a gorgeous native plant that prefers moist soils and will tolerate wet conditions. It will grow in full sun to full shade, and requires little pruning or other maintenance. Lightly scented, pure white flowers shoot like fireworks in the early summer. and the mounded, compact size offers a small space alternative to 'Henry's Garnet'. It is also a delightful addition to the mixed border. One of the best pollinator plants you can offer in your landscape. Incredible fall color makes this a must-have for every landscape.

NATIVE TO THE SOUTHEAST FROM PENNSYLVANIA THROUGH MISSOURI AND SOUTH TO TEXAS.

prairie blazing star

Liatris pycnostachya

An outstanding native of the great plains grows even in wet prairies. Breathtaking in gardens and bouquets. Produces a 1' or larger dense spike crowded with reddish-purple, long-lasting flowers on 3-4' spikes. A must for butterfly gardens. NATIVE TO THE CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN U.S.

hairy beardtongue

Penstemon hirsutus

Open clusters of trumpet-shaped, lavender flowers. Early bloom time and hairy stems distinguish it from other beardtongues. Prefers medium-wet to dry soils and adapts to most light conditions.

short-toothed mountain mint

Pycnanthemum muticum

Attracts beneficial garden insects like crazy — honeybees, butterflies, beneficial wasps, and moths cover the tiny flowers accented by fuzzy white bracts over blue-green foliage, which is incredibly fragrant. A must for any butterfly garden. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

Mexican hats

Ratibida columnifera

Round, dense, fine foliage is covered with 1" blooms of yellow, red and bicolor flowers with petals drooping back from the center cone. A wonderful self-seeder, this native blooms from late spring until fall, and even grows in the gravel at Vinland Valley Nursery! NATIVE TO MOST OF NORTH AMERICA.

‘Nekan’ blue pitcher sage

Salvia azurea ssp. pitcherii 'Nekan'

Showy large flower spikes of sky blue in late summer and fall. The perfect color contrast for the hot reds and oranges of fall. Drought tolerant. Grows 2-4' tall.

Larval host to the sage sphinx moth.

NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

goldenrod

Solidago rigidum/speciosa/rugosa

Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' Lacy, radiating bloom spikes of sparkling golden-yellow from mid-September past mid-October. Plants grow 3-4' high. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Oligoneuron rigidum {Solidago rigida} (stiff goldenrod) Large, flat medium yellow flower clusters provide late-season nectar for butterflies and, later, seed for songbirds. Deadheading will promote additional blooms. Grows 2-5' tall in sun to very light shade. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S. Solidago speciosa, commonly called showy goldenrod, is a rhizomatous native perennial which typically occurs in dry soils in open woods, fields and prairies. Tiny, bright yellow blooms open in dense clusters atop stiff, reddish stems growing 2-3' tall. Flowers bloom mid to late summer. As the common name suggests, this species is one of the showiest of the many goldenrods NATIVE TO THE MIDWEST AND EASTERN U.S. Goldenrods have been wrongly blamed for causing hay fever which is actually an allergic reaction to wind-borne pollen from other plants such as ragweed. Attractive to bees and butterflies searching for late-season nectar, and especially valuable to migrating Monarchs.

Used by long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, and caterpillars of many Lepidoptera species. An important late-season nectar source for pollinators.

New England & New York aster

Symphyotrichum {Aster} novi-belgii / novae-angliae

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae New England aster is native to most of the lower 48 states. Symphyotrichum novi-belgii New York aster is a low-maintenance perennial for average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Plants grow 3-4' high. The Novi-belgii species is valued for its compact growth habit, rich flower color, and floriferous tendancies. 'Wood's Purple' flowers open over a long season, from late summer through fall. Low maintenance, mildew resistant, compact plants provide late-season nectar for pollinators. Selected for low-growing height, plants grow only 12" tall and wide. 'Alert' has an especially compact habit with vivid deep crimson-red colored flowers with yellow centers. Plants grow 12-15" high and wide. NATIVE TO THE EAST-NORTHEAST U.S.

Ohio spiderwort, bluejacket

Tradescantia ohiensis/Tradescantia hybrid

Grassy blue-green foliage is covered with true blue blooms from May through July. Grows very well in part shade although plants may flower less profusely blooms may be less. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

‘Sweet Kate’ is a compact, clump-forming, hybrid spiderwort with bright yellow foliage. It typically grows to 12” tall with three-petaled, purplish-blue flowers from May into summer. Arching, iris-like, bright yellow foliage contrasts beautifully with other plants.

rose verbena

Glandularia {Verbena} canadensis

Brilliant pink flower clusters cover this low-growing wildflower all summer. Plants spread out to 15-18" and make an excellent border edging. Butterflies love this full sun perennial. NATIVE TO THE EASTERN HALF OF THE U.S.

Baldwin’s ironweed

Vernonia baldwinii

Stems occur singly or in clumps with wide clusters of vibrant red-violet blooms at the ends of short branches near the top of the plant. Six-inch wide flower clusters have a fuzzy appearance. Long, lance-shaped leaves line the stems. This plant aggressively colonizes by rhizomes once established so place accordingly. Its bloom period lasts until frost. CLICK FOR RANGE MAP