Fifteen native plants have been planted in our neighborhood native plant and pollinator garden. Here are photos and descriptions of each of these. If you are interested in adding any of these to your garden, Colesville Nursery in Mechanicsville carries most of these; plants may also be available on-line from various sources.
Joe Pye Weed, Eutrochium purpureum is late-blooming perennial native to much of the U.S. It is a wildflower and an herb that was used as an herbal remedy to lower fevers and other maladies. In some plants, the leaves and flowers can give off a vanilla-like scent. Joe Pye Weed attracts butterflies and birds.
Agastache, Agastache a member of the mint family (lamiaceae); a perennial plant with flower spires that bloom all season long. The Agastache flower is commonly found in purple to lavender but may also bloom in pink, rose, blue, white and orange. Also called hyssop or hummingbird mint. It is a favorite plant for attracting hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden and is known as a nectar plant.
Bee balm, Monarda. The bee balm plant is a North American native. Bee balm is very attractive to bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The bee balm flower has an open, daisy-like shape, with tubular petals in shades of red, pink, purple and white. Bee balm plants are perennial, coming back year after year.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. Despite their tendency to spread, yarrow plant varieties offer a host of flower colors and can fill a multitude of roles in the garden. Yarrow plants are probably one of the easier perennials to grow. Plants are generally pest-free, and they’re not picky about soil or demanding when it comes to care. The blossoms of all yarrow plants attract all kinds of pollinators — butterflies, beneficial insects, hummingbirds and different kinds of bees and wasps flock to yarrow flowers. Yarrow plants can spread somewhat aggressively in the garden. They self-sow readily and spread by underground stems.
Garden phlox, Phlox paniculata is a hardy, long-lived perennial. From midsummer to early fall, the plants are topped with large clusters of fragrant flowers that come in a range of colors including white, pink, fuchsia, red, lavender, purple and orange as well as dozens of bi-colors. The sweet-smelling, nectar-rich blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds and are beautiful in summer flower arrangements.
Catmint, Nepeta. Related to catnip, but much showier, catmints are easy to grow perennials that have flowers in shades of purple-blue, pink and white, as well as gray-green foliage that remains attractive throughout the growing season as well. All are great plants for attracting bees and butterflies.
Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa L. This bushy, 1-1/2 to 2 ft. high perennial has large, flat-topped clusters of bright-orange flowers. The brilliant flowers attract butterflies. Because its tough root was chewed by the Indians as a cure for pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments, Butterfly Weed was given its other common name, Pleurisy Root.
Goldenrod, Solidago, is a genus of 100 to 120 species of flowering in the aster family, Asteraceae. Goldenrod often is inaccurately said to cause hay fever allergies in humans. The pollen causing this allergic reaction is produced mainly by ragweed (Ambrosia sp.), blooming at the same time as the goldenrod and pollinated by wind. Goldenrod pollen is too heavy and sticky to be blown far from the flowers, and is pollinated mainly by insects. Frequent handling of goldenrod and other flowers, however, can cause allergic reactions, sometimes irritating enough to force florists to change occupation. Goldenrods are attractive sources of nectar for bees, flies, wasps, and butterflies.
Russian sage, neither truly Russian nor a sage, Perovskia atriplicifolia is a trustworthy, drought-tolerant shrub. In 1995, Russian sage received the Perennial Plant of the Year award. Russian sage, due to its fragrance, is resistant to deer, rabbits, and other smaller creatures. Russian sage attracts butterflies and bees and is dramatic as a cut flower.
Little bluestem grass, Schizachyrium scoparium. These grasses are most commonly called Little Bluestem, but can go by “bunch grass,” “beard grass,” or “creeping bluestem.” It will grow in a variety of soils, thriving in those that are well-drained, medium to dry, and infertile. It gives food and shelter to wildlife and attracts birds and pollinators. According to the USDA, it’s one of the best grasses for nesting and roosting habitat. The plant produces seeds which can be blown from the main plant and sprout.
Dogwood tree, Cornus florida, “Cherokee Brave.” Cherokee Brave Flowering Dogwood features showy clusters of crimson flowers with white centers held atop the branches in mid spring. It has forest green foliage which turns burgundy in spring and brick red in the fall. It produces red berries from early to late fall and is a good choice for attracting birds.
Fringe tree, Chionanthus virginicus. Fringe tree usually is ignored in favor of dogwood, saucer magnolia, flowering cherry, Bradford pear and numerous other choices for spring-flowering trees. Indigenous to the eastern U.S., it grows from Canada all the way down to the Gulf Coast. It’s tougher than dogwood, more dependable than saucer magnolia, longer-lived than cherry, and smells better than Bradford. Fringe tree gets its name from its clouds of fleecy white, softly fragrant flowers that hang from the branches in late spring and early summer. Trees can be either male or female. Males sport larger, showier blooms, but females form blackish-blue fruits that birds like.
Arrowwood viburnum, Viburnum dentatum. Arrowwood viburnum is an upright, rounded, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub which typically matures to 6-10′ tall with a similar spread. Non-fragrant white flowers up to 4″ diameter appear in late spring. Flowers later give way to blue-black, berry-like fruits that are attractive to birds and wildlife. Variable fall color ranges from drab yellow to attractive shades of orange and red.
Viburnum, Dilatatum, “Cardinal Candy.” Cardinal Candy typically matures to 4 to 5 feet tall and as wide. This is a dense, free-branching, bushy, upright-rounded, deciduous shrub that is distinguished by its multi-season ornamental interest and excellent winter hardiness. Small fragrant creamy white flowers in showy, large, rounded clusters form in late spring. Flowers give way to bright red fruits in showy clusters. Fruits mature in late summer to early fall but persist through winter until spring. Fruit is attractive to birds.
European Snowball Viburnum, Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum.’ A large rounded shrub reaching 10 to 12 feet. Considered to be an heirloom plant, which is why it is the most commonly known viburnum to the public. Blooms profusely with large, double 3-inch flowers in “snowballs” in mid-May. Flowers are first apple green, changing to pure white for an extended period. In high demand by the floral industry as a cut flower for arrangements. All of the flowers are sterile so there is no fruit. Fall color is shades of reds and yellows.