- This article was contributed by Jessica Mino, Resource Management Coordinator for the Kane County Division of Environmental & Water Resources at part of the 2018 Pollinator Series.
Making native plants abundant throughout the Prairie State again (that’s Illinois!) is a key factor in helping native bee populations thrive, as mentioned in last week’s article 3 Ways To Save Kane County’s Declining Bee Population.
This week, we are highlighting some native species that attract pollinators. Try incorporating these beautiful plants into your garden!
Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Many of us are familiar with common milkweed at the front and center of monarch conservation, but a less familiar milkweed happens to be one of our favorites — Butterfly milkweed.
Beautiful, vibrant color and stays somewhat compact for a great addition to your flower garden.
Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)
Also commonly called Bee Balm, this is a “bee superfood.” Long-tongued bees, butterflies, hummingbird moths, and hummingbirds are attracted to the tubular blossoms that appear from July through September on stems reaching up to four feet high.
This is a low maintenance planting that spreads easily from vigorous rhizomes (horizontal underground shoots).
Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
One that we have observed hummingbirds enjoying at the Government Center Rain Garden, not to mention a variety of bees.
This beauty is a four foot tall stem surrounded with purple “fuzzy” flowers making a statement in any garden. The flowers begin to bloom at the top and work their way down from July through September.
Button or Rough Blazing Star (Liatris aspera)
There are several varieties of blazing star, but the button blazing star provides its own optical intrigue, earning a spot on our list alongside the previously mentioned prairie blazing star.
This variety only grows approximately three feet tall and blooms later in the year, sometimes through October.
The button blazing star grows best in full sun and is frequently visited by a variety of stunning butterflies.
Showy Golden Rod (Solidago speciosa)
There are many types of golden rod, but showy golden rod is one of our favorites, bursting into bright yellow blooms during late summer and fall. You can tell this is a pollinator favorite just by glancing at the variety of bees covered in pollen, constantly maneuvering between the many flower petals.
Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
This very tall plant, up to 6 feet in height, stands out in gardens to us and pollinators. Dozens of species of butterflies and bees flock to this flower that blooms from July through September.
Strong dusty rose-colored stems support the tall plant with similar color flowers. This plant does best in almost full sun and rich, moist soils. It can spread easily so be cautious using this in small garden situations.
When choosing your native plants, keep in mind the plant height, plant width (how wide the plant will spread), sunlight and soil requirement to maximize survival, and what time of year the plants bloom.
Planting varieties that bloom at different times during the year will provide food for bees and other pollinators throughout the year. This method was used in the rain garden at the Kane County Government Center.
October is the month for fall native planting. Check your local nursery or conservation organization for native plant sales to add to your garden now.
Keep an eye for next week’s article for additional native plants suggestions to support pollinators!
Read The Pollinator Series!