Five Heat-Loving Powerhouses to Support Late Summer Pollinators
Five Heat-Loving Powerhouses to Support Late Summer Pollinators
By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners
When the dog days of summer arrive, the garden can start to look pretty tired. Despite your best efforts, the summer swelter may just be too much for some plants whose best days were had in May and June. No matter how much you try to revive them with consistent water, regular feeding and TLC, it’s just not enough to keep them going. When this happens, your pollinators move on to other food sources. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Fortunately, there are flowering plants which can take the heat and provide consistent food for pollinators right up to the first frost. Consider popping in a few of the five summer stalwarts you see below to make your garden a summerlong pollinator smorgasbord.
While on vacation last August in southern Florida, we visited a botanical garden that had happy yellow flowers exploding from the front of several sun-bathed borders. Bees and butterflies bounced from flower to flower, oblivious to my camera. If ever there was a fine example of a heat-tolerant flower beloved by pollinators, this was it! I’d never seen it before and asked one of the gardeners for identification. Lo and behold, it was High Noon® bush daisy!
This continuously flowering plant requires no deadheading and is about as low maintenance as they come. It’s one of those plants that gives way more than it gets. In the ground or in containers, High Noon thrives. For in-ground plantings, provide some controlled release fertilizer and water it well for the first few weeks. Once established, it will be incredibly heat and drought tolerant.
Standing approximately one foot tall in full bloom, High Noon bush daisy is best suited for the front of the border where it will beckon both people and pollinators to come a little closer. Expect it to survive the winter in zones 8 to 11, though it is widely grown as an annual elsewhere.
Every shade garden needs a splash of bling. The non-stop flower power of Catalina® wishbone flowers, which are available in four colors including Catalina Pink (shown here), will keep pollinators coming back for more all season. Prepare to see plenty of bee butts! They can’t resist the snapdragon-like flowers full of nectar and will disappear into them in search of it. You won’t even know a bee is inside the blooms until you see it backpedaling out, rear-end first.
The mounding, trailing habit of these plants makes them an elegant addition to a container garden or the front of the border in either sun or shade. If you live in a warm climate, they will appreciate some afternoon shade. Be sure to offer plenty of moisture if you plant them in a sunny spot. These flowering beauties really shine in the shade border where they will grow approximately one foot tall and wide.
Catalina® wishbone flowers are self-cleaning and will flower non-stop throughout the growing season. Though they are winter hardy in zones 10-11, most people grow them as annuals in containers and landscapes.
Need a low maintenance, sun-loving perennial to bridge the gap between summer and fall? ‘Coraljade’ autumn stonecrop is one of a dozen stonecrops in the Proven Winners line that offers up plenty of late season fodder for pollinators. Honeybees are particularly fond of this hardy perennial. On sunny days, you’ll often find them along with skippers and butterflies enjoying the gorgeous soft coral pink flowers that pack the whole top of the plant.
For cold climate gardeners who prefer to cut back their gardens in fall, we suggest you forgo that chore to fully experience the seasonal beauty of ‘Coraljade’. Leave the seed heads standing and they’ll provide food for birds in fall and winter. Capped with snow, the dried seed heads add interest and structure to the garden during winter’s darkest days.
Without a doubt, this is an invaluable, multi-season interest perennial for zones 3 to 9. Once established, it requires no supplemental watering and fertilizer is unnecessary as it can cause the plant to flop. Be sure to plant it in full sun and in a spot where the soil drains well, as it resents having wet feet.
She may look like a delicate diva, but don’t be deceived. Augusta™ Lavender heliotrope packs quite a punch in containers and borders where she’s anything but delicate. She’s a diva, for sure, but in the best possible way!
From the deep south to the far north, this plant churns out fragrant clusters of soft purple flowers continually no matter how hot or humid the weather. You can count on it to keep pollinators happy from spring until the first frost. Butterflies are particularly fond of heliotrope, but you’ll find all sorts of bees enjoying it, too.
This is not a small plant, so be sure to give it plenty of space to grow and bloom. Expect it to reach one to two feet tall and two to three feet wide in a single season if you grow it as an annual, though it will grow even larger where it is perennial in zones 8 through 11. Plant it in full sun to part sun in containers or garden beds. Please note that many heliotropes can be toxic when ingested, so plant it out of reach of children and pets.
From the moment its burgundy-tinged new foliage emerges in the spring, Meant to Bee™ ‘Royal Raspberry’ hyssop is a gardener’s dream. And when those brilliant rosy-purple flowers appear, it becomes a pollinator’s dream, too! Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds will all flock to this floriferous, heat and drought tolerant perennial all summer long.
This North American native cultivar blooms for months beginning midsummer and once the flower petals drop, burgundy calyxes give the appearance that the plant is still in bloom. They make great cut flowers at any stage. Standing 28 to 32 inches tall in bloom, the spiky blooms are easy for pollinators to spot in your garden. Plant ‘Royal Raspberry’ near the middle of the border with shorter annuals or perennials in front and taller shrubs behind.
Though this perennial is hardy in zones 5 through 9, the most critical factor in overwintering is good drainage. If its roots sit too long in soggy soil, the plant will suffer. If you have clay soil, consider amending it at planting time with gravel or finely ground bark to help with drainage. Planting in full sun is also a must.