Butterflies & Bees in the Garden · Garden Design · Perennials

Plant for Pollinators on Earth Day

My friend, PeggyAnne Montgomery, of the Garden Media Group sent me an email that included a great idea I wanted to share with all of you. She suggested in honor of Earth Day we should help the Million Pollinator Garden movement by planting three pollinator-friendly plants – one that blooms in spring, one that blooms in summer, and one that blooms in fall – to be sure pollinators can always enjoy a meal in our gardens. It is a great idea, right?

Here are the three new plants for pollinators I plan to add to my garden this year.

Phlox divaricata is commonly referred to as woodland phlox, wild blue phlox and wild sweet William. The delightful fragrance of its soft blue, lavender, lilac or rosy pink blooms fill the air from mid to late spring. This native wildflower grows about a foot tall and spreads into colonies as leaf nodes root, and form new plants, wherever they touch the soil.

They thrive in part to full shade in well-drained soil, rich with organic matter. They are not normally bothered by deer, but rabbits find them delectable so a protective barrier around new plants may be necessary.

I used to have tall tickseed, botanically named Coreopsis tripteris, growing in my garden. Years ago, one of my youngest daughter’s boyfriends offered to help me in the garden. I showed him a garden space and asked him to pull weeds. Well, you can guess what happened. He pulled every one of the tall tickseed plants. (That was more than ten years ago, and that boyfriend is now my son-in-law and the father of two of my four grandboys so I have more than forgiven him.)

This is the year I will make a concerted effort to find this plant and bring it back into my landscape. It may be difficult to find but it is easy to grow. In full sun and consistently moist, but well-drained, soil it reaches massive proportions – up to 8 feet tall and almost as wide – but in average to poor and dry garden soil, it is considerably shorter and less full. When it used to grow in my garden, it grew about 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide.

Yellow, daisy-like flowers bloom from July to September. To prevent self-seeding, deadhead spent flowers. 

Gentiana andrewsii, commonly called bottle gentian, is my fall-blooming choice for pollinators. I saw a large group planted at Olbrich Botanic Gardens in Wisconsin last fall and it immediately jumped to the top of my I must have it! plant list. It grows best in rich soil that has been amended with lots of organic matter in part shade.

Clusters of deep flowers sit atop 1- to 2-foot stems in fall. I just found out plants of bottle gentian will be available at a nearby plant sale in May and can’t wait to buy several for my garden. After they have established and if I make them happy, they will begin naturalizing into a colony like the one I coveted.

I shared my three pollinator-friendly plants I plan to add to my landscape this year. Now you share yours. Which three plants will you plant this year to help pollinators?

Garden with me!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *