Fall Blooming Plants for the Pollinators

Using fall blooming plants in the landscape will give insects an extra boost for late-season and winter. These days, insect population decline has more attention than ever. The most popular of which is the Monarch Butterfly. There is also frequent news over the Honeybee (Apis mellifera).

Though not native, the honeybee has become an important part of our ecosystem. However, there's now a constant threat to native bees as well. In Wisconsin, we list the rusty-patched bumblebee as endangered. Once common, habitat loss, insecticide use, and climate change have lasting effects on bee population. These days, major organizations like the UW-Madison Arboretum (among many others) work to preserve bee habitats and encourage them to thrive.

You can help too. Simply choosing plants in your landscape that encourage the same safe habitat and diversity will work to correct the balance.

Left: Sky Blue Aster (picture taken October 9) | Right: Montrose White Calamint (Picture taken October 10)

Loss of habitat and rampant pesticide will begin to impact more native pollinators, like other bees, butterflies, beetles, etc. In general, we estimate that we owe 1/3 all fruits and vegetables that we consume to the work of pollinators. One out of every three bites!

Fall has once again arrived and as the dipping temperatures have us reaching for warm drink to ward off the morning chill, your local pollinators still need sustenance beyond pumpkin spice lattes. By including fall blooming plants in the yard for your local bugs and butterflies you will help them make the transition to winter and offset habitat loss. We typically stand in awe of fall color in Autumn, but we should also consider what's happening within and around those trees. Choose fall blooming plants with flowering times that stretch into October to keep your yard brighter for longer. You will also be supporting your local pollinators as they prepare for the winter.

Left: Chrysanthemum (Picture taken October 4) | Right: Limelight Hydrangea (Picture taken October 1)

Top 15 Fall Blooming Plants for the Pollinators

  • Anemone species
  • Aster species
  • Sky Blue Aster (Aster azureus)
  • Woods Aster (Aster dumosus)
  • Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)
  • New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)
  • Montrose White Calamint (Calamintha nepeta 'Montrose White')
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Tall Tickseed (Coreopsis tripteris)
  • Spotted Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
  • Sun-loving Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata)
  • Prairie Blazing Star (Liatris pycnostachya)
  • Catmint species (Nepeta)
  • Note: if you cut back the entire plant to the ground after it flowers in spring, you will be rewarded with a second display of lavender flowers in September/October.
  • Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
  • Rugosa Rose (Rosa rugosa)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)
  • Showy Sedum (Sedum spectabile)
  • Prairie Dock (Silphium terebinthinaceum)
  • Goldenrod species (Solidago)

Additional Reading:

NPR: Bees Added To U.S. Endangered Species List For 1st Time