One of the things covered in this past week’s class was how to bring more pollinator-friendly plants into your garden. A few years back Penn State did a pollinator trial on which wildlflowers were most visited by pollinators and by insects in general. Here’s the link to Bees, Bugs, and Blooms where you can look at tables and figures.
Towards the top of most of their lists are the mountain mints (Pycnanthemum), goldenrods (Solidago), Joe Pye weeds (Eutrochium), and milkweeds (Asclepias). Above you see mountain mint, which as anyone who has planted it knows, literally buzzes with activity this time of year. Also above there’s Joe Pye weed and one of the perennial sunflowers, and a milkweed peeking out here and there. My goldenrods are not blooming yet, so not in the photo. I have a big yard which I allow to grow on the wilder side; you can also have a neater & tidier pollinator garden if you prefer.
I’ve put just the genus name above (in italics); you can look further at the lists to find out which ones performed best. If you’re just starting out with planting for pollinators, any natives in these genera (plural for genus) listed above is probably good.
Figure 1 shows phenology, or the time of year the plants bloom and are therefore useful to their pollinator visitors. It’s important to start to think about planting wildflowers that will bloom throughout the season, from April through October, or even longer, so that pollinators have food throughout the season.
Watermark Woods has most of these plants available, and is usually open Wednesday through Saturday mornings (check the link to be sure). Loudoun Wildlife’s Fall Native Plant Sale, where Watermark Woods and two other reputable vendors will have plants to sell, is coming up Sept. 9 and is held at Morven Park in Leesburg. Staff and volunteers can help you pick out plants that suit your needs.
Another good resource for planting for pollinators: Using Native Plants To Attract Butterflies, Moths, Bees, and other Pollinators in the Washington, D.C. Area
Check back soon for more posts and links on topics we covered recently in class.