butterfly gardening

Plant A Goldenrod For Pollinators

It’s National Pollinator Week! In celebration I wanted to highlight a family of wildflowers that is one of the most beneficial for our native pollinators: the Goldenrods.

Florida has dozens of native goldenrod species, all in the Solidago genus. They all bloom in late summer, fall and sometimes through the winter in warmer climates. The genus is known for it's stalks covered in clusters of small, sunny yellow blooms. Goldenrods are often incorrectly blamed for seasonal allergies because the showy blooms open at the same time as the ragweed plant-the real culprit. Goldenrod pollen is not airborne, it relies on pollinators to move it from plant to plant and rewards these busy insects with rich nectar and pollen to eat. The goldenrods are an indispensable source of nectar and pollen in the fall and I rarely see a plant in bloom that isn’t being used by bees, butterflies, beetles, wasps or other insects.

We have a few of our favorite native goldenrod species in stock now. They are all reliable perennials and bloom in late summer through fall;

  • Seaside Goldenrod, Solidago sempervirens- adaptable to many soils, salt-tolerant. Tolerant of wet soils and drought tolerant once established. Very showy stalks of blooms 3-6ft tall. Plant forms a clump and will reseed, but not aggressively. Full to part sun.
  • Sweet Goldenrod, Solidago odora- pretty pyramidal clusters of yellow blooms atop stalks 3-4ft tall. Average garden soil, adaptable to clayey soils. Anise-scented foliage is used in teas. Clump grower, reseeds. Full to part sun.
  • Downy Goldenrod, Solidago petiolaris- one of the most uniform and ornamental, forms a clump 2-3ft tall-doesn’t spread. Average soil and water needs. Full sun.
  • Wand Goldenrod, Solidago stricta- sends up tall, thin ‘wands’ 2-4ft tall topped with blooms. Adaptable to many soil types. Full to part sun.
  • Wreath Goldenrod, Solidago caesia- arching branches of blooms on 2ft tall stalks. Reseeds and spreads by root. Full sun to part shade.

White Swamp Milkweed

White swamp milkweed (Asclepias perennis) is an herbaceous perennial (height – 12 to 18 inches) for full to part sun. This beautiful, native wildflower is naturally found on floodplains, water way margins, marshes, cypress swamps, ditches and wet lands. Although it does thrive with regular moisture, it will also tolerate most garden situations including somewhat well-drained soils. It propagates by seed and tolerates temperatures to zero degrees Fahrenheit. Asclepias perennis blooms from May to September. Its pinkish white flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators, and its foliage is larval food for both the Monarch and Queen butterflies.

At Native Nurseries, we typically stock white swamp milkweed in quarts and 1-gallon pots. Currently we have 1-gallon pots only. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –

http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/demogarden/printables/swamp%20milkweed.pdf

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/wildflower/completeWildflowerData.asp?id=5

Stokes’ Aster a/k/a Stokesia

Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis) is a showy, native perennial wildflower for full to part sun. It blooms (blue/lavender) from late spring to mid-summer, is evergreen and grows to approximately 12 inches in height. It’s a good choice when you need a small patch of color at the front of a perennial border. Although stokesia likes plenty of moisture, you should plant it in well-drained, acidic soil. Wet soil in the winter is the main cause of death for this plant, so well-drained soil is a must. Choose a spot in the sun. Stokesia does well in partial sun, but if you’re looking for the best possible show of color, plant it in full sun. Keep in mind however that if you do so, it will need more water. You will have to pay special attention to its water needs until it’s well established. Deadheading and removing spent flower stems will also help maximize blossoming. Propagate stokesia by dividing root clumps in late winter or spring.

There are lots of good reasons for making space in your garden for stokesia. It’s a good source of nectar for butterflies, has no serious insect or disease problems and, although it likes plenty of moisture, it’s surprisingly drought tolerant once it’s established. Oh yeah . . . and it’s beautiful too.

At Native Nurseries, we typically stock Stokesia in quarts and 1-gallon pots. Currently we have both. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –

http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/Horticulture/plantsaleiplamts/stokesia.html

http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/giam/plants_and_grasses/flowering_plants/stokes_aster.html

http://www.floridata.com/ref/s/stok_lae.cfm

Post Date: 5/15/15