A Good Time For Planning: Flowers For Pollinators I
Snow came down two days ago accumulating just three inches. Today the garden is still covered with snow and the temperature dropped down to just above 10°F. It’s a perfect winter day for bird watching through the patio door. Since the ground is covered with snow and the sources of water around here have turned to ice, they congregate around our feeders and heated birdbaths. It’s also a good day to start planning for the next growing season.
The plant catalogs have been piling up. I have picked out a couple of new vegetables I want to try and am now looking for flowers that bees and butterflies will like. A new Cosmos ‘Cupcake’ looks very tempting. I have already put 200 crocus in this autumn. If they haven’t all been dug up by the squirrels and chipmunks they should blossom when spring arrives. Any new plants I choose I make sure will benefit all pollinators, not just honeybees. If I have to pick and choose however, flowers for the bees will come first.
Here are some plants that work for our pollinator garden and I start with flowers:
Alyssum comes in white, pink and purple. It blooms until frost and has a honey scent. It’s great for ground cover too. The white variety self sows very well
Honeybees seem to like this Aster more than the lavender color. It’s a good late season food source for pollinators.
Summersweet has a perfect name; its fragrance is really sweet. I grow both the pink and white varieties. But it can be a problem in the garden as it produces a lot of suckers.
Sunflower is also everyone’s favorite, birds included. I was able to grow sunflowers again last year after I put the deer net up. Prior to last year, all flowers, in fact everything, became deer food. Sunflowers are fun to grow as there are many colors and different heights to choose from. The Maximillian’s sunflower below will also brighten up late summer in the garden
Maximillian’s sunflower ‘Santa Fe’ is a perennial that can grow over 6 feet tall and produce plenty of flowers on each stem.
Echinacea is a must for a pollinators garden. There are a variety of colors to choose from: pink, white, yellow, orange. The native purple (dark pink actually) readily self sows. I propagate other colors by digging them up and separating them after a couple of years.
Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)has a strong fragrance and easily self sows. I pick off spent flowers before they set seeds which encourages the plant to produce more flowers and no seedlings that I will have to pull next season.
This iris is a re-blooming variety and fragrant. I planted more bearded iris last autumn and look forward to seeing them bloom this spring.
Water Jasmine is a tropical flower with a mild, soothing fragrance. In it’s native tropics, it’ll bloom year round but in a cold climate it blooms heavily in summer. Bees and moths love it. The honeybee in the photo above is covered with hollyhock pollen .
These are just some of the flowers I managed to photograph with honeybees on them. There are many more flowers that they like- crocus, snowdrop, Black-eyed Susan. Next post will be on herbs and vegetables that I allow to flower, both as a pollinators food source and as the next season’s seeds.