September may not be the New England gardener’s most exciting month for getting out in the yard, but it is actually a fantastic time to add pollinator plants to the garden. Most folks this time of year are splitting wood, putting up food from the harvest and getting gardens ready for those cold winter months that are just around the corner. However, here at Arcana, we also want to remind you of the fun and beauty that September can bring to our outdoor spaces and pollinator friends!
This is the time of year when bees and butterflies are trying to stock up for the winter as well, collecting the last bits of nectar they can find for honey stores or perhaps a long migration trip down South! We’ve collected a list of our top five favorite fall pollinator plants that not only help these insects but also bring lovely flowers to your garden after many perennials have finished their blooming season.
Actaea simplex (shown left), also known as Bugbane, is a lovely 3′-4′ shade perennial. It adds great architectural height to the garden and is best planted in groups. It attracts hordes of butterflies and beneficial insects. It needs consistently moist, fertile soil and is best planted where it will be sheltered from strong winds. it looks lovely planted along with our next favorite late blooming perennial pollinator! Zone 4.
Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, also called the Japanese Anemone or windflower, is a stunning 3-4′ tall part shade plant that bears pure white, semi-double, slightly ruffled flowers with a yellow, fluffy center. It lends height, brightness and elegance to overall garden design it is no wonder that it is The Perennial Plant Association’s “Perennial of the Year” for 2016. It may be slow to establish but once it does it is a low maintenance plant. They are helped by winter mulch in colder climates. They look especially lovely when planted with hostas and astilbes and they thrive in rich, loamy, consistently moist soil in Zone 5 or lower.
Anemone tomentosa ‘Robustissima’, or Grapeleaf Anemone, A native of north and central China, it is one of the hardiest anemones, bearing hundreds of mauve flowers with yellow centers on 18-36″ branching stems. A wonderful plant in the perennial boarder, cottage or woodland garden and a great flower for arrangements as well. The plant will spread to eventually create a 4-5′ wide colony; one of the best solutions for adding color and elegance to the shade garden. Prefers part shade and moist, humus-rich soil. Zone 3.
Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’, common name Turtlehead, is a 3′ tall plants with snapdragon-like, brilliant rose pink flowers that resemble the heads of turtles. Forms a graceful clump and looks lovely planted with asters which provide an excellent contrast of color. Grows best in part shade and may need staking in full shade sites. It is a native of wet woodland areas in the Southern United States but has naturalized to areas of New York and New England. Prefers rich, moist soil and is excellent planted in shade and woodland gardens as well as along ponds or water garden peripheries. Attracts butterflies, is an interesting cut flower and is also a rain garden plant. Zone 4.
Buddleia davidii ‘Black Knight’ is a gorgeous pollinator with fragrant dark purple blooms that truly is a Butterfly Bush, as it’s common name claims. Grows easily in average to medium moisture but needs good drainage in full sun. A deciduous shrub that is native to China, it grows between 6-8′ and has a bushy habit. Looks lovely in borders, rose gardens, cottage gardens and, of course, pollinator gardens! Also a lovely cut flower that brings it’s beauty and honey fragrance to a bouquet. Mulch well in the fall and cut down to 6-8″ from the ground in late winter as flowers grow on new wood. Zone 5.
There are many more pollinator plants that we love this time of year, such as New England Asters (noteworthy is its new latin name Symphyotrichum), Scabiosa Caucasia, and Hibiscus Moscheutos all of which can be found ON SALE at our nursery in Jericho, VT! Come on out and see these splendid late flowering pollinators in person! Leave a comment telling us what your favorite fall perennial is, pollinator or otherwise!