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Two Favorites for Pollinators


My all time favorite, which is a bit controversial these days, is the butterfly bush. Controversial, because in some areas the plants re-seed readily and become invasive to native plants. My personal experience in Durham indicates that some will find a new home naturally, but I have never seen "wild" butterfly bushes at the park, in my yard or at Beaver Marsh. My favorite big white butterfly bush came as a surprise when my mother gave me compost from her garden. Sometime later, a butterfly bush grew in this spot without being intentionally planted. So it did re-seed, but I still wouldn't consider them invasive here (Triangle area in NC.)

Fortunately, there are many varieties on the market which do not re-seed so you can have your cake and eat it too in this scenario.

Why is the butterfly bush my favorite? It supports butterflies, bees, moths and even hummingbirds throughout the summer and into Fall if you dead head the spent blossoms. I simply cut off several inches of branches periodically to keep them performing throughout the warm growing season. Did I mention beauty and scent? They have that too in spades.

Black Knight butterfly bush This re-seeds.

Miss Molly butterfly bush (not a re-seeder)

Miss Molly butterfly bush (not a re-seeder)

The photo above is of a hummingbird moth. Hummingbirds also visit the butterfly bushes (buddleia) but they have other favorites in the yard, e.g. red bee balm and black and blue sage (salvia guaranitica). Bees visit these bushes so frequently, I haven't thought to make photos.

Single flowered echinaceas. These have the same desirable qualities as the butterfly bush. Even gold finches feed from these plants, but they are looking for seeds on the spent flower blossom. Some varieties even have scent now such as "Fragrant Angel" below.

Some sites show hummingbirds visiting echinacea. I haven't observed that in my garden, but they have many other options here. If you are starting a pollinator garden buddleia and echinacea will give you a long summer through Fall show. Either of these plants can be used as potted plants for your patio or balcony. Plenty of sun is required.

Happy gardening!

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