Last year, we did several posts on pollinators for monarchs, bees, and songbirds. Have to admit in all honesty, though, that some of the plants we featured I personally had problems getting to sprout, and some did not take kindly to transplanting.
Reading an article in NC Field and Family, I came across this suggested list put together by Dr. D S Carley, who is an Associate Professor of Horticulture Science at State.
This list is geared toward the novice or low maintenance profile of pollinators, so thought I would share with you. Underneath each photo, I have listed characteristics that might help you decide what to plant where, and the photo itself will give you a visual of what the plant looks like at bloom.
At the bottom of the post, I have also included a link to our previous bee post, for those who are not familiar with hive collapse, and what we as residents can do. I have also reprinted our monarch post, which will explain how to curb the decline. Our next post will be updated for the monarchs, as much as changed in NC in the quest to help, so stay tuned.
Let’s help our bees, our song birds, and our monarchs. It is not too late, and their situation is dire!
Asters come in an array of colors (pinks, lavender, white, purple) and bloom in late summer into the fall. They do come in a variety of heights, so be sure to check your seed packets for the specific one you are planting. Generally, they prefer full to part-sun, and can handle droughts, which NC often has.
*Asters do well as a cut flower, too.
*Favorite of butterflies
Butterfly weed is a bit trickier to grow from seed, as the seed needs to go thru cold stratification to germinate.If transplanting, be sure to do it early, as this plant has a long tap root and delay can damage that root and cause transplant failure. The butterfly weed prefers dry conditions and full sun. Expect this one to reach heights of 2-3′. Due to that height, keep spacing at around 1 1/2′ or more.
*favorite of monarchs
Bee balm is a native plant for us, mostly being found in our mountains. With several colors available (rose, white, red, pink, and violet), it can be an attractive yard plant, but do take care to keep it maintained, as it can become invasive. General height can be 2-4′. Unlike the two plants above, this one prefers a moist and well drained soil, although the light requirements range from full to partial sun. The bloom period is late spring/early summer
*resistant to deer
*favorite of hummingbirds
Growing up to 6′ high, this stunner won the 2001 NC Wildflower of the Year award.
It begins blooming usually in July and continues thru the fall, and is another native plant for our state. A sun lover, it also tolerates partial shade, and a moist soil keeps it happy.
*All parts of the cardinal flower are poisonous if ingested.
*attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds
As much as I love mint, some emphasis is needed here..mints LOVE to spread! If you do not want it everywhere, be sure to keep it under control. I actually found spearmint growing in my woods last year that had spread from my front yard patch. However, a little research can turn up mountain mints that are not as aggressive about spreading, so be sure to read the fine print. That said, mint is a wonderful plant in that it requires little maintenance, and will grace the landscape year after year. They need a minimum of 4 hours a day of sunlight, and once established, can tolerate even drought conditions, as long as they are watered periodically. Also keep in mind that mountain mint will reach a height of 3-4′, so it needs some room to grow. As for scent, most sites I checked for this plant compared the scent to a light vanilla…sounds good to me!
*This site has several mint recipes and great tips: DIY Natural
*especially attractive to both butterflies and bees.
Enjoy oregano? Please be aware that the ornamental oregano (not featured here, as I was unable to find a free domain photo of the ornamental) is not edible! It is exactly what it says: “ornamental”. This one displays a preference for both dry soil and a lot of sunlight, so choose your location accordingly. It will tolerate partial sun. Also, this one only reaches about 1′ in height, so if planting with some of the taller ones, keep that in mind. You need to divide the root ball for easy propagation.
*also known as giant resin bee plant
Purple coneflower is a familiar plant to most flower gardeners. Not only is it unusual in that the petals seem to kind of lay back, it boasts lots of desirable traits.
Coneflowers can grow from 1-3′, depending on location the particular conditions. It can handle dry soil, a good thing to know for our summer droughts. Full sun is desired, and it handles humidity well. Bloom time runs from summer to early fall.
This plant is also known as Echinacea, and is popular with the herbalists, as it is known to promote the immune system, helping to fight off some commons ailments. There is a growing movement to investigate if coneflowers discourage other plants nearby, a thought to keep in mind, although this has not been determined beyond question. The extract is also known as an organic pesticide. For propagation, you can use either seeds or division, however, it is good to keep in mind that the hybrid cultivators may not come out quite like you expect. There is also conflicting evidence as to if you need to put the seed thru stratification (see link above for more on this process)
*attractive to butterflies, songbirds and bees
To learn more about the situation with our bees, please see this link: