Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pollinators and Late Summer Blooming Flowers

Cardinal Flower and friend
It's late summer and many gardens are winding down. Any blooming plants are especially appreciated for their beauty and the nectar and pollen they provide for resident and visiting pollinators. Each year I add more plants that fill the void until the big blue, gold and purple fall show. Here are a few that continue to make me smile.
Cardinal Flower, aka, Lobelia siphilitica is a gorgeous plant that always has skippers, butterflies, bumbles, carpenter bees and the tiniest little pollinators visiting it.

It blooms bottom up and the color is more lilac/purple then blue! It's planted in semi-shade and needs a good gulp of water in this extreme weather. It would be happiest in a constantly moist soil, but, that's not going to happen at Clay and Limestone. Once established, it can take short periods of drought. Red Cardinal Flower bloomed earlier and was the host for hummers.

Eupatorium coelestinum or Conoclinium coelestinum ~Whatever name you prefer, it's another late blooming native that I can't garden without. Nature gave me this pretty and I thank her every August when the cooling lilac blue against the pale green foliage is a spot of lush in my other wise dry garden. This plant is loved by bees, butterflies (especially Skippers and Swallowtails) and insects that Bluebirds, Orioles and warblers like to munch on~

Vernonia gigantea is one of my favorite of the late summer rough and tumble wildflowers that make a home in the garden. They make gardening at this time a year a pleasure.

Ironweed is the common name for this beauty. It's another native that loves wet feet and grows at Clay and Limestone despite the dry clay soil each summer. This is not a xeric plant, so don't plant it unless you have a low spot that collects rain water or plan on making sure you can meet its cultural needs. Bees, butterflies, skippers, and various bee flies seek out the nectar and pollen. Deer do not!

I'm not alone in my admiration of the Susans! Skippers, small butterflies, bees, bees and more bees love them, too. Rudbeckia hirta is the host plant for the Silvery Checkerspot (source) and several other caterpillary critters. R fulgida , R subtomentosa, R laciniata and R triloba are also residents of the garden.

Silphium perfoliatum. Just look at that bloom and its pollinator visitors! Need I say more about why I grow this pushy native! Cup Plant has visitors from sun up to sun down! Not only is it a pollinator magnet~it's been in bloom since August 1.

It's one of the tallest flowering plants in the garden, but, wants to lean over after a heavy rain storm~Never to stand up again. I discovered that you can cut it back in June, like tall asters, and it will flower just a tad latter and much shorter! But, nothing can stop it's attractiveness to bumbles, small bees, wasps, butterflies, skippers and birds who come to eat the seeds early in the fall.

Helenium autumnale or Common Sneezeweed is a cutie pie plant that's relatively new to the garden. It's putting on a big flowery show but, with the droughty conditions it's really wimping out and flopping all over the place. So far that hasn't stopped the critters from visiting it, but, it may be moved to a spot where it can get support to hold it up! What I wanna know is, "Who planted this plant in the front of the garden where it looks messy and sloppy and blocks the amsonia?!"

Yes, even a few exotics make me smile. Anemone × hybrida 'September Charm' (Japanese anemone).


PS I know, I've written this before~ If you want to attract bees and other pollinators to your garden:

  • plant large swathes of pollinator friendly, nectar and pollen producers.
  • plant host plants~don't stop at nectar and pollen plants
  • plan for bloom from late spring to early winter
  • bee sure to include water
  • provide nesting sites for a variety of visitors: decaying logs, even special bee houses and leave some bare ground (ix-nay on the plastic landscape cloth)
  • Never, ever, ever, ever, ever use pesticides in your garden. I mean never. Seriously....never.
In case you want to read earlier pollinator posts~

Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees ( here)
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)
Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All Be Pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Royalty In The Garden~Monarch Butterfly (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)
Got Wildflowers?(here)
It's Spring and A Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators (here)
The Wildflower and The Bee (here)
A Few Good Reasons To Plant Milkweek (here)
Got Shade? You Can Have Pollinators ( (here)
A Pollinator friendly Shrub (here)
Big Goings On at C and L (here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~

Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hoverflies (here)
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)

Bee clip art (here)


  1. Great photos. especially the one of the little bee overlooking the rudbeckia. I have one ironweed that came up in a garden that I'm leaving, such a beautiful volunteer!

  2. It is fun to see the visitors and flowers in your garden now, dear Gail, with such marvelous photos! Thank goodness for these transitional plants, natives and friendly exotics to keep everyone happy and sated until the big fall bloomathon of mums and asters.

  3. Your photos make me long for a space big enough to grow more of these...in the meantime thanks for sharing!

  4. Even though summer is winding down, there is a lot of activity among the pollinators. Your rudbeckia photos are stunning. I don't have sneezeweed in my garden, but I think I may give it a try.

  5. Your garden always makes me smile. This time of year here we're reverting to the browns typical of late summer. We don't have many natives that are in flower this time of year. It will take time, but I'm gradually adding plants throughout the year to fill the voids too. At the moment I seem to have an overabundance of Epilobiums, which the hummingbirds enjoy. Thanks to you, I finally broke down and planted my first Rudbeckias (I had Susan-envy), and the bees seem to approve! :)

  6. Gail, I think you have outdone yourself this time--these photos are gorgeous! I love the blue Cardinal flower; in fact, I didn't realize there was a blue variety...I'm going to check into that one. I've also been gathering ideas for adding more late bloomers to my garden--thanks for some great suggestions!

    I just finished some weeding and trimming and was so worn out I just sat for awhile watching all the visitors to my garden. My new agastache 'Heat Wave' is a popular plant for the bumbles and hummingbirds and a late bloomer, too.

  7. Gode bileder.
    Smukke blomster.
    Tak for kigget.

  8. The photos you are taking are great. When I read lobelia and saw all that blue I thought "what is she thinking" I didn't know there was a blue lobelia. WOW. I must try to find such.

  9. Great photos! I love the Vernonia and Eupatorium. Something about those fuzzy flowers and fuzzy bees just makes me smile.

  10. The bees are so enjoying those native plants this time of the year.Gorgeous pictures Gail.

  11. My Eupatorium is loaded with Ambush bugs. I'm almost ready to pull it out ~ I hate seeing the little bumbles and honeybees hanging in their clutches.
    The blue lobelia is beautiful. I grow only 'Queen Victoria' and she's just now blooming. Hardly a hummer around to enjoy it tho. :-(
    I found my first ever monarch caterpillars today so my garden is getting more pollinator friendly!! I know you're proud!

  12. Fantastic photos! Interesting...my Cup Plant doesn't fall down all season long.

  13. Hi Gail,

    So lovely to see so many bees in your garden :)
    I love the colour combinations.....especially the blue and purple. Having a garden in a low lying area, I guess most of these plants would be happy in my damp soil.

    I have waited two years for my Susan's to bloom and at last they have. At the moment caterpillars are eating them......

  14. I've planted several rudbeckias in the last year and I'm glad to see them on your list of good pollinator plants. Always nice to know that the plants I've chosen aren't just pretty.

  15. You have some great late summer bloomers Gail. We have been swamped with butterflies and hummingbird moths and hummingbirds this late summer, loving it!!

  16. I love your shot of the Rudbeckia hirta. My Lobelia siphilitica is in full bloom now too, but I can't get close to it to observe pollinators because there are still logs in the way.

  17. And why don't I have ironweed and Silphium in the garden....yet, that is.

  18. lovely Lobelia siphilitica... I've never tried planting that one, but i'll have to search it out now.

  19. though not a native over here in Scotland UK I planted Vernonia this spring but we had severe gales in May and it was blown out of the ground I like the look and sound of this plant so want to try again next year, I have a damp meadow which I think would suit it well,
    Gail thanks for all the info you give on nature, plants and pollinaters, Frances

  20. Fabulous Photography of your pollinators Gail! What a joy!

  21. Lots of inspiration for late bloomers, have just planted the blue lobelia so will just sit back and wait!

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"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson