GardenSMART :: Five New Perennials for Pollinators
Five New Perennials for Pollinators
BySusan Martin for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
By now, we're all aware of how critically important it is to support the pollinators that produce so much of the food we eat and the flowers that enhance our surroundings. We all need to do what we can to provide a beneficial habitat, food and shelter for all kinds of bees, butterflies, moths and hummingbirds. Here are five new perennials we're introducing this year that pollinators will love.
Salvias of all kinds are highly attractive to bees, so expect to hear the consistent hum of these happy pollinators when yours are in bloom. They will be completely consumed with gathering pollen and won't even look your way when you pass by. Expect to see butterflies and hummingbirds, too, but not deer since they don't like salvia's scented foliage. The new 'Azure Snow' salvia is a unique bicolor variety that features plump wands of deep violet blue and pure white flowers from late spring to early summer. Find more colors in this series here.
Perennial in zones 3-8. Height: 18-20". Full sun. Average to somewhat dry soil.
One way to support native bees that forage near the ground is to grow 'Classic Coral'. Its foliage hugs the ground in a low mound while wiry stems carry bouquets of dreamy coral pink, sweetly fragrant, double flowers in late spring. If you trim the spent flower stalks off when they are all done blooming, you'll likely see another round of flowers in early fall. Butterflies also feed on this pretty perennial. Deer typically don't bother to bend so far down to take a bite but rabbits will, so use a repellent if they become an issue in your garden. Find more colors in this series here.
Perennial in zones 4-9. Height: 8-10". Full sun to part sun. Average to somewhat dry soil.
You may have grown vining clematis before, but this new selection grows more like a perennial. You may still want to give it some support from a cage or neighboring plants, but its stems grow upright to form a bushy clump. Bright blue, bell-shaped flowers appear on nodding stems in late spring to early summer followed by silky cream seed heads. If you're lucky, you'll see a few more flowers in late summer, too. Butterflies and hummingbirds have no problem dipping their long "tongues" into the heart of the pendulous flowers to drink their sweet nectar.
Perennial in zones 3-7. Height: 3'. Full sun to part sun. Average, alkaline soil.
Penstemons benefit from two different kinds of pollinators—bees and hummingbirds. Deep inside their tubular flowers lies the pollen bees need and sweet nectar for the hummers. Bees collect the pollen on their bodies. Hummingbirds collect pollen on their heads when they reach in for a drink of nectar, then transfer it to the next flower they visit. 'Midnight Masquerade' blooms prolifically with lavender purple flowers on strong stems in early to midsummer. You'll be able to distinguish it from its native parents by its vibrant blooms and deep burgundy foliage.
Perennial in zones 3-8. Height: 36-40". Full sun. Average to dry soil.
Bring life to any dull space in your sunny landscape with this glowing yellow new perennial. Its daisy-like blossoms make the perfect perch for butterflies and songbirds which come in for a landing around midsummer to late summer. This cultivar has native roots; the species can be found growing in the wild throughout central and eastern North America. It thrives in heavy soils, including clay, and prefers consistent moisture but will tolerate occasional periods of dryness once it is established. Be sure to plant more than one so you'll have plenty of flowers to cut for fresh bouquets. If you like this plant, you might also like its cousin 'Tuscan Sun'.
Perennial in zones 4-9. Height: 24-32". Full sun to light shade. Average to moist soil.
Contributor Bio: Susan Martin is an avid zone 6 gardener, garden writer and speaker who enjoys spreading her passion for plants to her fellow gardeners. Follow her on Facebook @Gardener Sue's News.
Patent Information: Color Spires® 'Azure Snow' Salvia USPPAF CanPBRAF; Fruit Punch® 'Classic Coral' Dianthus USPPAF CanPBRAF; 'Stand by Me' Clematis USPPAF CanPBRAF; 'Midnight Masquerade' Penstemon USPPAF CanPBRAF; Tuscan Gold™ Heliopsis helianthoides USPPAF CanPBRAF
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Perhaps you garden because you love growing your own produce or take pride in your prize-winning roses. Or maybe you just love playing in the dirt. Whatever the reason, soil plays a big part in how healthy your garden is. Before planting any more spring or summer crops, give your soil a checkup and perform a soil test.
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