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The leaves are changing here in Tennessee. The air is getting cooler in the evening and you can just feel fall in the air. We are still working around the homestead getting things ready for the cold temperatures that we know are not far away.
Fall is a great time for the birds and bears. Natural areas are full of seeds and berries, but our pollinators food source is quickly ending. They have gone all summer feeding off the nectar and pollen in the flowers and then fall arrives and their food source is quickly slowing.
While cleaning up the garden, I noticed the zinnias, marigolds and verbena that were still blooming was swarmed by butterflies and bumblebees. I had let a large basil plant go to flower and it too was covered with bees.
I’m so enamoured watching them. They are so wise, totally focused on the task at hand, they know winter is just around the corner and they are doing all they can to prepare. They need all the pollen and nectar they can get in order to make it through the winter months ahead. The later in the season they can eat, the better chance they have of surviving the winter.
The pollinators are in trouble and you can help! Use pollinator friendly plants in your landscape and gardens.
10 Late Blooming Flowers to Feed Pollinators into Late Fall
Basil – basil can be left to go to flower in the fall after the vegetable garden is done. Basil attracts bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies and many other pollinators.
Autumn Joy Stonecrop – large landing-pad-like flower blooms summer to late fall. Flower starts green, aging to pink to russet-red in the fall. Attracts honeybees, butterflies, and moths. Zone 4-9
Cleopatra Coneflower – pollinators love the bright yellow blooms. This plant is adaptable to cold temperatures when established. Attracts bees, butterflies, moths, and hoverflies. Zone 4-8
Oakleaf Hydrangea – large white blooms in the summer that turn a rose-pink in the fall. They not only provide nectar and pollen for the pollinator, it also provides a place to nest. Attracts honeybees, bumblebees and hoverflies. Zone 5-9
Other late blooming flowers that provide pollen and nectar for bees and other pollinators:
- Lemon Balm
Other Ideas You Can Do to Help Pollinators in Your Area
Grow native plants Please don’t go out into your local forest and dig up wild flowers to bring home. Wild flowers and plants need the specific biomass and bacteria’s that are in the soil where they are growing. When you dig them and take to a new location, they most often die or they do not produce adequate pollen and nectar for your pollinators. Do some research for your area nurseries that sale native plants and buy from them. A great place to start is with your local extension office for help. Before purchasing plants, make sure to ask if any fungicides, pesticides, etc. have EVER been used on the plant or seedling. If so, do not buy. This chemical never leaves the plant and when it blooms and your pollinators feed from it, they will die. Make sure your purchases are chemical free.
Keep the Blooms coming Among your native plants, make sure that you have something blooming for all seasons (Spring, Summer and Fall). Some bee species are active all year and others need to be able to eat as late into winter as possible.
Save the Queen Bee cycles vary by the particular breed. Bumble bees queens are an annual cycle. They are born in the fall and find a place to hibernate until spring. When spring arrives, they need lots of flowers, trees and shrubs to feed from so they can start their colony. Honeybees queen lives for a couple of years. They overwinter in the hive but come spring, the workers are out looking. They are out foraging as late as possible.
Use less Mulch Many bees build their nests in the ground and raise their young there. If they are unable to get to the soil surface because of mulch, they cannot build their homes. Leave some areas of your yard mulch free so they can have room.
Build or buy a Bee Hotel Bee hotels can be purchased on line like this one or you can build one yourself. They don’t have to be large, they just need to have hollow places so that bees can get in to lay their eggs.
Among the pollinators, the most common are bees, wasps, moths, butterflies, flies, and beetles. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a great resource for finding out about pollinators in your area and ways to help them.
Are you growing any late blooming flowers to feed your pollinators?