Pollinator Week

Pollinator Week

June 20 - 26

The aim is to build a healthy garden with its own ecosystem... a good balance of plants, insects, birds and other wildlife. Look for those special plants or natives that attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees and birds so you can create a garden with movement and color, as well as encouraging a healthier and lower maintenance environment.

When you encourage birds and insects to visit your garden, they will all work together as a natural form of pest management. If you begin by choosing their favorite plants, the pollinators will naturally come looking for food & shelter and  in return, provide pollination for flowers, trees, fruits and vegetables.

For greatest success, plant in abundance, in groupings of color and single variety, tend to them throughout the seasons and you’ll make sure that there will be enough nectar and pollen for all pollinators.


Butterflies: For larger butterflies such as Monarchs, flat-topped, nectar-rich flowers such as Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Asters will offer them a stable place to sit and sip nectar. All butterflies appreciate the spikes of closely-spaced, small flowers of Liatris or the round-topped flower clusters of yarrow... and they all love purple, red and yellow. Monarch butterflies prefer the nectar of certain plants. *See the list below. Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on milkweed plants (Asclepias). Choose the right milkweed for your conditions.


Bees: From small bees to the larger bumblebees, bees are responsible for pollinating our plants… quite a large contribution in return for supplying them with a little nectar. Single flowers without double layers of petals such as Coneflowers, make it easier for bees to access the pollen and nectar. Bees also search out nectar in short tubular flowers like foxglove or honeysuckle. Flat flowers forms such as milkweed, sedum and yarrow also offer a safe place to land and easy access to nectar. Bees prefer white, yellow and blue blooms.

Birds: Finches especially love the dried seeds found in the cone of the Echinacea, Rudbeckia and Monarda and berries, too. Since many birds are primarily insect eaters, they will keep harmful pest populations at bay. Certain plants also offer shelter, nesting materials and opportunities for birds. Red, orange and white flowers are their favorites.

Hummingbirds: These tiny birds look for trumpet-shaped blossoms such as Lobelia and Fuchsia to fill up on nectar. Their long thin beaks can fit into flowers that other pollinators can’t access. Red, orange and pink are their favorite colors. 


Purple Coneflower or Echinacea purpurea (butterflies, bees, birds & hummingbirds)

A must-have for your pollinator garden! The pale purple coneflower blooms for two months in mid to late summer. Thrives in full sun to part shade. A good one for clay soils. Matures from 3-4 ft. tall. The scented blooms offer a real treat for Black Swallowtail butterflies.


Anise Hyssop or Agastache foeniculum (butterflies, bees, hummers)

Wands of blue-violet, tubular flowers attract monarch butterflies in droves from July through September. When crushed, the green textured leaves have a minty/licorice scent. Thrives in full to partial sun. Good choice for dry to medium soils. Matures from 1’ – 3’ tall.


Butterfly Milkweed or Asclepias tuberosa (butterflies, bees, birds, hummers)

This heirloom perennial colors the garden with vivid, red-orange flowers from June through August. Although it attracts many types of butterflies, it is the preferred nectar plant for monarchs. Full sun. Matures from 24-36” tall.


Red Milkweed or Asclepsias incarnata (butterflies, hummingbirds)

This prolific bloomer colors the garden from June through July with clusters of pink or white flowers with a soft vanilla scent. It is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly larvae. Grows best in moist or wet soil. Full sun. Matures to 3-5’ tall.


Common Milkweed or Asclepsias syriaca (monarch butterflies & their caterpillars)

A real butterfly magnet! Colors the summer garden with sweet-scented, pink flowers. The best reason to plant this heirloom species is that it provides food and habitat for monarch butterflies… and is an essential host plant for their caterpillars. Hopefully, you’ll get to witness the entire life cycle of this butterfly by including Common Milkweed in your garden landscape. However, plant this milkweed can be invasive! Plant in a place where it can roam, as it multiplies by underground rhizomes.


Prairie Blazing Star or Liatris pycnostachya (butterflies, bees, birds, hummers)

Bold spikes of lavender flower stalks in July – August. Thrives in rich, medium or moist soil such as a damp, clay soil (found in our area.)


Brown-eyed Susan or Rudbeckia triloba  (butterflies, bees)

Brilliant yellow flowers bloom prolifically in medium to moist soil from late summer until first hard frost.… from July through September. Jet-black cones in the center of flower will attract a wide variety of seed eating birds. Swallowtails love this one!  Full to partial sun. Matures from 2’ through 5’. Blooms July-October. It self sows, so you’ll have more next year!


Hollyhock or Alcea rosea (butterflies, bees)

This heirloom biennial attract bees and butterflies, (especially the gorgeous Swallowtail butterfly,) with its towers of flower power… in every color in the rainbow. Hollyhocks are good vertical plants for the back of the border or in a cottage garden atmosphere. Flowers are edible. Sow seeds outside 1-2 weeks after the average last frost date (May 15 in our area).


Bergamot or Monarda fistulosa (butterflies, bees, birds, hummers)

The pale lavender flowers have a tubular structure that attracts small bees, butterflies and other pollinators to the sweet nectar of this native Monarda. Leaves have a minty fragrance. Bloom time is from July - September. Deadhead to prolong bloom time. Perfect for clay soils. Matures from 2 – 5 ft. tall.


Stiff Goldenrod or Solidago rigida (butterflies, bees, birds)

This is a favorite of monarch butterflies and a variety of butterflies, as well as, gardeners with clay or sandy soils. The golden yellow flowers are a good late season source of nectar for migrating butterflies. The stiff stems serve as perches for songbirds and the seeds prove to be an important food source for the birds in the fall. Full sun. Blooms August through September. Matures from 3’ – 5’ tall.


Monarch butterfly Information:

Exclusive Host Plants for the Monarch Caterpillar: All Asclepias or Milkweed species.

Preferred Nectar Plants for Monarch Butterflies: Blazing star, Lavender Hyssop, New England Aster, Bergamot, Pale Purple Coneflower, Purple Coneflower, Prairie Blazing star, Cup Plant, Ironweed, Ohio Goldenrod, Stiff Goldenrod, Downy Phlox, Smooth Aster, Showy Goldenrod, Rough Blazing star, Joe-pye Weed, Marsh Phlox, Tall Ironweed, Wild Blue Phlox


Classic Perennials that Attract Pollinators 

Yarrow 'Moonshine' (Achillea)

Long-lasting, lemon-yellow flowers float above silver-green foliage... a classic choice for butterfly gardens and cottage garden-style borders. Humidity tolerant.

Blooms: Typically blooms from late spring through late summer.
Light: Full or part sun
Size: 1 - 2' tall x 1 - 2' wide
Zones: 3-8 


Ornamental Onion 'Millennium' (Allium)

Globe-shaped, florets of violet-purple flowers hover over clump-forming, thick grass-like foliage. The 'Millennium' cultivar has many showy flowers. Rabbits and deer don't like the 'onion-y' scent. Smaller bees love these spheres of tiny purple flowers. 

Blooms: July - August
Light: Full sun but appreciates light afternoon shade during the height of summer.
Size: 1 - 2' tall x 1 - 2' wide when mature
Zones: 4-9 


Coneflower 'Magnus' (Echinacea)
Daisy-like petals surround a large cone-shaped center which gives this perennials its name. Coneflowers are the 'two for' plants: They are an important source of nectar for butterflies and also a good source of seed for birds, especially goldfinches in the fall. You can find it in just about every color of the rainbow except for blue. Plant in groupings for a pop of color for yourself and also nectar for the pollinators.

Blooms: July - September
Light: Full sun to part sun. Plants need at least four hours of sunlight per day. They thrive in spots with morning shade and afternoon sun or vice versa.
Size: Coneflowers, in general, are available in a variety of sizes with clumping habits and heights from one to four feet tall.
Zones: 5*-9
*Echinacea 'Magnus' is cold hardy to zone 3.


Catmint (Nepeta)
This is one tough perennial! Blue-purple flowers are surrounded by small and fuzzy, scented gray-green foliage. Attracts bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects. Look for cultivar, 'Cat's Meow,' with its abundant flowers and tidier habit.

Blooms: Late spring through summer and into early fall. The plant benefits from a 'haircut' in mid summer to promote more blooming.
Light: Full sun to light shade
Size: Available in many heights from 9" - 3 ft. tall
Zones: 3-8 


Stonecrop 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum)
Tough stuff! Sedum is almost indestructible in heat or drought. The thick, succulent foliage stands up to the elements and large flower clusters make an appearance in late summer. The flowers range in color from bright pink to mauve and deeper burgundy. It's a plant for all seasons with tidy plants in spring, flowers in late summer into fall and brown seed heads that stand through the winter. Bees cover this flower in fall. A good choice for late summer/fall feeding.

Blooms: Late summer into late October
Light: Part sun to full sun
Size: The classic 'Autumn Joy' cultivar is 20-24" tall and 18-24" wide
Zones: 3-9