The plants in my garden need to be more than just pretty faces. These three non-natives provide much needed nectar and/or pollen in mid/late fall when many native plants have gone to seed. My garden continues to be mostly native, but I believe that adding pollen and nectar rich non-natives enhances a pollinator habitat. Our growing season is long; bees that are provisioning their nests for the winter and migrating butterflies and hummingbirds need the extra blooms that they bring to the garden.
They also have very pretty faces.
Of course, you all know that the very best thing you can do for bees and other pollinators is to never, ever, ever, ever use pesticides!
For long bloom and a fantastic pollinator buffet, plant African Blue Basil.
It's a tender perennial and blooms non-stop...Well, until a freeze stops it. It's not an easy plant to find, but, worth the trouble to locate it.
|Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum 'Dark Opal'|
|Oh my gosh, is this ever a buffet for bees of all sizes.|
Cultivar: Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum “Dark Opal”
Type: Tender perennial
Hardiness Zone: 9-11
Height: 2 feet in my garden
Spread: 2 feet
Color: Purple leaves. Whitish/pinkish flowers
Bloom: non-stop summer until frost
Comments: It's sterile and never sets seed, so I will take cuttings and hope they make it through the winter. It's taller than most basil plants and if that bothers you, pinch the tips and it will remain shorter and fuller. This should be in every pollinator garden...It's blooming now and has been for months.
Another must have for my garden is the late blooming Pineapple sage.
This fabulous native of South America blooms in early fall just when the garden needs a jolt of delicious red and the hummers moving south need nectar to fuel their flight.
|The Cloudless Sulphur, Phoebis sennae nectaring on Salvia elegans|
|I think of Pineapple sage as a hummingbird and butterfly plant and was surprised to see this bee nectaring.|
|Critters beware! A Crab spider is lurking.|
Genus/species: Salvia elegans
Common Name: pineapple sage
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Zone zones 8 to 10
Height: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to October
Sun: Full sun
Comments: An easy peasy plant for middle south and southern gardens. Folks gardening further north might have to move it inside to appreciate the bloom. They may bloom too late for hummers, but, you can enjoy the beauty and add the flowers to your salads. I have been known to cover them when a frost is forecast and warm weather is expected to return.
Attracts: Hummingbirds, Butterflies and bees
Salvia x 'Mystic Spires' is a third must have supportive player for my wildlife friendly garden.
|Bombus pennsylvanicus is my guess, but it is only a guess!|
A month of 90+ weather didn't stop 'Mystic Spires' from flowering. I expect it to flower until we have a freeze. You can be sure I will cover this one if warm weather is forecast to follow a freeze or frost! I am hoping it will overwinter, because this is a fantastic plant for a critter friendly garden.
No common name
Parentage: (S. longispicata and S. farinacea)
Type: Perennial in zones 7b to 10b
Height 3 ft. to 6 ft.
Spread 1 ft. to 3 ft.
Light Full Sun
Bloom: Early Summer, Late Summer, Summer
Color: Deep blue, incredibly showy
Comments: Is happy in a container. Might overwinter if winter drainage is good in Zone 7. If it looks scraggly or needs to be refreshed, just cut it back, more blooms will follow.
Wildlife: Attracts Butterflies, Bees, Hummingbirds
PS Now make this garden blogger smile and pop over to May Dreams Gardens, where our delightful hostess, Carol, has set up the Mr Linky magic carpet ride to take you to more Bloom Day posts than you can imagine.
Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.