Diggin’ In: Fall is golden time to attract bees for last sips of nectar

September 21, 2015

Now is the time to indulge in some bee-friendly gardening.

Bees feast on the sweet nectar found in summer-blooming plants like coneflowers and salvias, but they also need the nectar from fall flowers like goldenrods and sedums.

"Fall is an important time for bees since it is their last chance to gather nectar to make honey before the cold temperatures arrive," says Bruce Peachee, horticulture curator at the Virginia Living Museum – – in Newport News, Va.

"It is the honey that they have produced during the growing season that sustains them through the winter months."

September is Honey Month in Virginia, which recognizes honey as a major crop for the state, according to a news release from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. And, the bees that produce the honey are critical to the state’s crops, pollinating apples, strawberries, tomatoes, soybeans, sunflowers and peanuts.

Here, Peachee suggests some fall perennials that benefit bees and other wildlife, including butterflies and birds:

Fall bee plants

Rudbeckia hirta, or gloriosa daisy. Blooms June-October with two- to three-inch bright-yellow daisy-like flowers with dark centers. Grows one to two feet tall, likes sun to shade and rich/poor and wet/dry soil. Deer resistant; benefits butterflies and birds, too. Zones 4-9.

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, or New England aster. Blooms July-October with numerous one-inch violet daisies with golden centers. Grows two to four feet tall, likes sun and average wet, well-drained soil. Loved by butterflies and bees. To prevent drooping, stake or cut back the plant before buds form to get shorter, bushier plants. Zones 3-9.

Boltonia asteroids, or false aster. Blooms July-September with small white daisy-like flowers with yellow centers; profuse blooms nearly cover plant in late summer and early autumn. Grows six inches to three feet tall, likes sun to part shade and average wet/dry, well-drained soil. Deer resistant; benefits butterflies, too. Zones 3-9.

Eupatorium maculatum, or Joe-pye weed. Blooms July-September with large flat-topped clusters of fuzzy dull-rose-pink flower heads. Grows two to seven feet tall, likes sun to part shade and average to rich, moist soil. Tends to grow shorter in drier soil; spreads by underground runners. Deer and rabbit resistant; benefits butterflies and songbirds, too. Zones 4-8.

Silphium perfoliatum, or cup plant. Blooms June-September with tall clusters of large yellow daisies with yellow centers. Grows four to eight feet tall, likes sun and average, well-drained soil. Needs large growing space; birds and butterflies sip water from the cupped leaves. Spreads by seed; benefits butterflies, goldfinches and small insects, too. Zones 4-8.



Associated Press