Plant flowers for pollinators — and for show

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 at 10:41 AM.

When designing plantings to support pollinators, aim to have at least three different types of flowers in bloom during each season, from early spring through late fall. Plant flowers in groups of at least 3 to 5 plants; this allows bees to forage more efficiently since they do not have far to move from one plant to the next. Using these principles to guide planting design also makes your yard an enticing habitat for beneficial insects and birds.

Flowering perennials are among the best nectar sources for bees. Recommended perennials native to the southeast that you are likely to find available at local garden centers include the following:

Spring bloomers: ‘Homestead Purple’ verbena, spiderwort (Tradescantia varieties), Coreopsis species and varieties, wild indigo (Baptisia species), beardtongue (Penstemon species), bluestar (Amsonia species)

Summer bloomers: purple and yellow coneflowers (Rudbeckia and Echinacea species), Phlox, butterflyweed and milkweed (Asclepias species), Stoke’s aster (Stokesia laevis), Gaillardia, Liatris, bee balm and horse mint (Monarda species).

Fall bloomers: Aromatic and other native asters (Symphyotrichum species), ‘Fireworks’ goldenrod, coastal joe pye weed (Eutrochium dubium), ironweeds (Vernonia species), and perennial sunflowers (Helianthus species).

Classes, plant sales,and websites

Learn more about native plants, vegetable gardening, the plight of bees and planting a pollinator garden during the Herb and Garden Fair, March 29 and 30 at Poplar Grove Plantation. Admission is free. for full details. In addition, mark your calendar for the Pender Extension Master Gardener plant sale, April 11 and 12 at the Pender Extension office in Burgaw. The theme for this year’s sale is pollinator friendly perennials, herbs and vegetables. Visit to learn more. Extension Master Gardener volunteers will be available at both events to answer your gardening questions.

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