As we creep into autumn and the temperatures drop, pollinators begin to prepare for their winter hibernation by building nectar reserves.
Many plants will finish flowering in August, but pollinators such as butterflies, hoverflies, bumblebees and honeybees can be active well into November, and may even emerge on a warm Winter’s day.
I have put together some of my recommended nectar-rich plants for late summer. Even featuring just one of these in your garden will increase the insects’ chance of surviving the cold winter months. It is however recommended to always have at least two flowering, pollinator-friendly plants in your garden at all times. Insects’ need food to survive too; it’s as simple as that.
Scabiosa “Pink Mist”
Irresistible to butterflies and bees, Scabiosa “Pink Mist” flowers from early summer right through into Autumn. I would recommend including these pink, pincushion flowers as part of a wildflower garden or a herbaceous border.
Prefers well-drained soil in full sun. Dead-heading will prolong flowering.
Hebe x franciscana
This variegated, evergreen shrub flowers July – September and the bees and butterflies go wild for it. This is a particular favourite of mine as it is reliable, versatile and looks great even when it isn’t flowering.
Prefers well-drained soil, full sun or light shade, and shelter from strong winds.
Another type of Hebe, “Paula” is an evergreen shrub that bears short stalks of purple-pink flowers from summer into autumn. Again, popular with both butterflies and bees. The Hebe’s do not disappoint!
For best results grow in full sun to partial shade. Likes moist, but well-drained soil.
“Purple Emperor” Sedum
A late flowering favourite of the bees’. Sedum are succulent perennials featuring clumps of small, star-shaped flowers from Summer into Autumn. “Purple Emperor” is a deciduous type with beautiful deep purple leaves on dark red stems. A lovely addition to any garden!
This un-demanding, easy plant will tolerate drought. It needs well-drained soil and is ideal for a sunny spot.
Aster novi-belgii “Gurney Slade”
No plant quite welcomes flying passers-by like Asters do. These Autumn flowering Asters form clumps of double-flowers, available in varying colours (see above and below).
They grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Asters also act as host plants for caterpillars. Growing them will likely provide you with generations of butterflies feasting in your garden!
Aster novi-belgii “Patricia Ballard”
The way I look at it is….if you are going to go to the effort of growing and looking after plants for the purpose of making your garden look pretty…..why wouldn’t you chose the plants that are going to help make a difference? Surely that makes sense! Go on and get yourself to the garden centre 🙂 I promise it’ll make you’ll feel great!