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Hemlock Bark Mulch
October 9, 2016
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Sugar Maple – King of the Woods
October 24, 2016

Fall Blooming Plants for the Pollinators

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Fall Blooming Plants for the Pollinators

Using fall blooming plants in the landscape will give insects an extra boost for late-season and winter. For the last few years, a lot of attention has been paid to the fact that certain insect populations are being threatened. The once ubiquitous Monarch Butterfly has been consistently declining in numbers and now the news is abuzz (pardon the pun) over the Honeybee (Apis mellifera). Though not native, the honeybee has become an important part of our ecosystem. However, native bees are now being threatened as well. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service just added 7 types of yellow-faced bees found in Hawaii to the endangered species list. In Wisconsin, the rusty-patched bumblebee already has that distinction. Once extremely common, the rusty-patched bumblebee population has been reduced by 90% in the last two decades, due to habitat loss, insecticide use, and climate change. The UW-Madison Arboretum discovered the rusty-patched bumble in 2010 and has since made efforts to preserve its habitat and encourage it to thrive.

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Left: Sky Blue Aster (picture taken October 9) | Right: Montrose White Calamint (Picture taken October 10)

If loss of habitat and rampant pesticide use goes unchecked, we will most certainly see more native pollinators (whether bees, butterflies, beetles, etc) declining to the same fate. It is estimated that 1/3 out of all fruits and vegetables that we consume is owed to the work of pollinators. One out of every three bites! So what can we do to help? Glad you asked. Use fall blooming plants in your landscape!

Fall has once again arrived and as the dipping temperatures have us reaching for warm drink to ward off the morning chill, your local pollinators still need sustenance beyond pumpkin spice lattes. By including fall blooming plants in the yard for your local bugs and butterflies you will help them make the transition to winter and offset habitat loss. One usually thinks of leaves in the landscape this time of year, but below is a list of fall blooming plants with bloom times that stretch into October to brighten your yard and support your pollinators.

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Left: Chrysanthemum (Picture taken October 4) | Right: Limelight Hydrangea (Picture taken October 1)

Top 15 Fall Blooming Plants for the Pollinators

  • Anemone species
  • Aster species
  • Sky Blue Aster (Aster azureus)
  • Woods Aster (Aster dumosus)
  • Heath Aster (Aster ericoides)
  • New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
  • Montrose White Calamint (Calamintha nepeta 'Montrose White')
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Tall Tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris)
  • Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
  • Sun-loving Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
  • Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
  • Catmint species (Nepeta)
  • Note: if you cut back the entire plant to the ground after it flowers in spring, you will be rewarded with a second display of lavender flowers in September/October.
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
  • Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Showy Sedum (Sedum spectabile)
  • Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum)
  • Goldenrod species (Solidago)

  • Additional Reading:

    NPR: Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time