Autumn is a good time to plant most perennials. The soil is warm and new roots can easily get established before winter. Before purchasing plants be sure to check the growing zone for your area and the recommended zone for the plant variety you choose. Buy from nurseries, garden centers, or farmer’s market vendors you trust and are knowledgeable. Many garden centers have perennials on sale in the fall to prepare for next season.
There has been recent concern over bee populations and ways to help them survive. Be sure you buy plants that have NOT been treated with a neonicotinoid insecticide. “Neonics” are a group of systemic insecticides which control insects who chew or suck any part of the plant. A systemic insecticide moves throughout the plant and is usually applied to the soil. The plant takes up the insecticide, and it moves through the entire plant including the flowers. When choosing outdoor flowering plants and especially ones that bees and butterflies frequently visit, look for tags in the container stating whether a neonic was used. The more we ask our favorite garden center for non-neonic- treated plants the more aware everyone becomes. Many annuals are also treated with these insecticides so beware. If you plant annuals or perennials treated with neonics anywhere in your garden the visiting bees and butterflies will be affected. The European Union determined enough negative scientific evidence had been collected to link bee colony collapse disorder to ban the majority of neonicotinoids.
Here are some perennial flowers that bees and butterflies frequent. Plant some in your garden this fall and you will be pleased next spring when the plants come back with gusto attracting many honeybees and butterflies.
Agastache – Hyssop, full sun, aromatic foliage, bottlebrush blooms, June-October, some varieties are native
Echinacea – Purple Cone Flower, full sun, most varieties bloom June-September, drought tolerant, easy to grow, native plant
Geranium – Crane’s Bill, sun/pt. shade, tolerant of heat and humidity, mounded hanging growth habit, early summer blooms and some varieties bloom again in the fall, some varieties are native
Lavendula – Lavender, full sun, aromatic purple blooms, silver foliage, blooms in June
Mentha – Mint, full sun, best to plant in large containers as it spreads rapidly, cut stems to control growth and use leaves in tea and other drink recipes, leave some areas to flower to attract bees
Monarda – Bee Balm, sun/partial shade, prefers moist well drained soils, heavy feeder and also attracts hummingbirds, blooms June/July, great nectar and pollen plant, native plant
Salvias – Violet sage, full sun, blooms June/July with some varieties blooming till frost, some varieties are native
Scabiosa – Pincushion Flower, full sun, blooms June-October
Solidago – Goldenrod, sun/partial shade, native plant, blooms August-October, great nectar and pollen plant
Thymus – Thyme, full sun, aromatic ornamental ground cover, some varieties are culinary, drought tolerant, great for containers, rock gardens or walls
Don’t forget the importance of wild clover and wild snapdragons! If possible, leave some areas untouched to benefit beneficial insects and wildlife which of course includes our bees.