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Support Pollinators In White Plains With Late-Blooming Native Plants

Honey bee feeding on Boneset.
Honey bee feeding on Boneset. Photo Credit: Contributed by Kim Eierman

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Many pollinators are active in fall, yet we often forget to incorporate late-blooming plants in our landscapes.  Take advantage of the mild September weather to plant fall blooming native perennials with high ecological value.  An array of asters, goldenrods and other perennials can beautify your landscape while providing an important resource to nature.

Here are some of the best choices of fall-blooming perennials that are native to our region:

Asters and related species

  • Big Leaved Aster (Eurybia macrophylla)
  • Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)
  • False Aster (Boltonia asteroides)
  • Flat Topped White Aster (Doellingeria umbellata)
  • Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)
  • New York Aster (Symphyotrichum novi-belgii)
  • New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
  • White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata)
  • Smooth Aster  (Symphyotrichum lavae)
  • Maryland Golden Aster (Chrysopsis mariana)

Goldenrods (No hay fever here – ragweed is the culprit!)

  • Blue-Stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)
  • Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)
  • Rough-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa)
  • Stiff Goldenrod (Solidago rigida)
  • Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora)
  • Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
  • Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)

Sunflowers and Rudbeckias

  • Swamp Sunflower (Helianthus angustifolus)
  • Willow-Leaved Sunflower (Helianthus salicifolius)
  • Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)  “Frisky” - site carefully
  • Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
  • Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata)
  • Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba)

Thoroughworts and related species

  • Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  • Hyssop-leaf Thoroughwort (Eupatorium hyssopifolium)
  • Late -Flowering Thoroughwort (Eupatorium serotinum)
  • Round-leaved Thoroughwort (Eupatorium rotundifolium)
  • White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima)

Miscellaneous Fall-Bloomers

  • Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)
  • Vernonia noveboracensis (New York Ironweed)
  • Closed Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)
  • Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa)

Make sure to select plants that are appropriate for your site (the plant database of The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is very helpful). For best environmental impact, select a diversity of plants. Different pollinators utilize different flower colors, shapes and sizes.

Plant in quantity to give pollinators targets they can find.  Meadows and informal meadow-like gardens offer a repetition of bloom that pollinators love.  If you are planting more formally, try to plant in masses using at least 3 or 5 plants of the same species.  It’s much easier for pollinators to find a larger target than a single plant.

Finally, get your new plants in the ground 6 to 8 weeks before hard frost.  When is that?  It’s hard to say with the huge weather swings brought to us by climate change.   If you get everything planted by the end of September, you should be safe.  And, don’t forget to water your new plants until hard frost occurs.

Kim Eierman, a resident of Bronxville, is an environmental horticulturist and Founder of EcoBeneficial! When she is not speaking, writing, or consulting about ecological landscapes, she teaches at the New York Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, The Native Plant Center and Rutgers Home Gardeners School.

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