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Monday, October 6, 2014

The Buzz Surrounding Fall Pollinators


Plans for the naturalized garden and landscaping so often focus on what to plant for good food sources for the birds and butterflies. But we cannot overlook the importance of wanting to encourage insects into our gardens as well. We've been conditioned that bugs flying around us are just an annoyance, but actually, most insect species are either pollinators and/or predators, and not harmful to us at all. We have to understand that a diversity of insects is necessary for balance in populations and critical for pollination.

As autumn arrives, take notice which plants in your yard or garden areas are still buzzing with activity.  You'll probably be seeing an assortment of bumble bees, hover flies, parasitic wasps and beetles. Plants that are late season bloomers are wonderful for these insects, because these plant types are well adapted to conditions to provide these pollinators with the pollen and nectar they need. Most fall flowers are actually made up of clusters of hundreds of tiny flowers, each one an individual little cup filled with rich nectar. With such a rich source of pollen and nectar in one place, there is no need to waste energy traveling in the search for enough plant sources. Insects can gorge themselves in one spot. Both pollinator and plant come out a winner. The plants provide the nectar and pollen, and the pollinators in turn carry that pollen from flower to flower, which enables the plant to set seed and continue the life cycle.

Pictured below are good examples of fall flowering plants in the northeastern United States:
Click on the link below each picture for more information on each plant.

Fall Flowering Aster


 The Small White Aster and the purple New England Aster are just two of many species in the Asteraceae family. They are perennial wildflowers which are beautiful but tend to look a bit messy. 

New England Fall Aster

Sedum or Stonecrop is a wonderfully behaved showy perennial whose beauty only gets better with the arrival of cold weather.
Sedum
 

Goldenrod is often seen in fields and roadsides and blends beautifully with the white cloud display of the fall asters. Goldenrod too often gets a bad rap because it is blamed for fall hayfever. This is not true. The pollen of goldenrod is too heavy to float with the wind. Ragweed is the culprit for fall allergies.

Goldenrod

Rethink pretty! 
Native plants are not ugly or "weedy"  
They are colorful, adaptable, suited for local climate, and support the cycle of life.