Contributed by Jim Lynn
Flowers are finally blooming full force out in the gardens! The early ephemeral plants and bulbs have passed by to make way for the great showy blooms of late spring and early summer. With growing interest in the health of pollinating insects like Honeybees and the Monarch Butterfly, as gardeners we need to be planting the right flowers for our fluttering friends. Here is my Top 5 List of Plants for Pollinators.
Blue Fortune Anise Hyssop – Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ This showy perennial blooms from early/mid-July all the way to the beginning of October! With an attractive Anise aroma and tall purple spike flowers, this interactive plant for the landscape has foliage that attracts pollinators of all kinds. If you are lucky enough, you might also find Mantis hanging out in the plant looking for a snack of its own. This perennial will self-seed heavily if the flower spikes are not removed after blooms have passed.
Butterfly Flower – Asclepias tuberosa With a name like Butterfly Flower this type of Milkweed MUST make the list! Asclepias are known to be an important part of the life cycle for the Monarch Butterfly. Sometimes referred to as the caviar of butterflies, caterpillars of the Monarch need this as a host plant to make the transition from caterpillar to butterfly. Visit The Xerces Society to find out more information on the importance of this plant and helping our pollinator friends. When planting, be sure to find a variety native to your region since the butterflies that visit your gardens will be dependent upon the local varieties.
Purple Cone Flower – Echinacea purpurea This wonderful prairie wildflower is great for massing or in meadow plantings and can tolerate drought. It produces large showy flowers that are sturdy and long lasting. Seed heads provide a great landing pad for pollinators and provide winter interest if not cut back. Echinacea is also a valuable herb, much sought after for boosting the immune system. Due to advancements in plant breeding, Echinacea is available in a wide range of colors besides purple.
Bee Balm / Bergamot – Monarda didyma Bee-Balms are treasured garden herbs, nectar providers, and showy ornamentals. Monarda will draw attention with its bright spider-like flowers and can form impressive massings. This plant does best with constant moisture and ample space. Deadhead for extended bloom. ‘Jacob Cline’ is a mildew resistant variety and has handsome foliage.
False Indigo – Baptisia australis Perennial Plant of the Year for 2010! This perennial is a bushy, long-lived plant for the back of a border. It has gray-green foliage, lovely pea-like flowers and likes to stay in one spot. Pods give long season of interest and attract many of the native bees. This drought tolerant plant is not just good for the pollinators but also for water conservation. Once established this plant requires minimal additional watering.
If you’re looking for more ideas for attracting pollinators to your garden, just ask us! We’re always available to help.