For weeks, much of Georgia has been suffering drought conditions. If that was not enough, this past week, temperatures soared above 100ºF, and heat indexes topped out at 122ºF at my Middle Georgia home. When this occurs, it is extremely difficult for pollinators such as butterflies, bees, wasps, beetles, and others to collect enough nectar to meet their needs. One of the reasons for this is it is a struggle for nectar plants to stay alive in our backyards and elsewhere. Even if they are successful stay alive, they often either don’t bloom or produce little nectar. Here is a short list of the plants growing in my backyard that have not been phased by this year’s extreme growing conditions and have done the best job of providing the pollinators with nectar.
Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – This low-growing, hardy perennial bears clusters of white flowers. The pollinators that visit this plant are native bees, butterflies and others.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) – My wife and I are fond of this plant because it is easy grow, beautiful, its blooms last a long time, and it is a super source of nectar for a variety of insects. Although it is often touted as a good butterfly plant, we have noticed, in our yard, it is more often visited by tiny bees, flies, wasps, and other pollinators.
BUTTERFLY BUSH (Buddleia davidii) – This introduced deciduous shrub a veritable butterfly magnet. This past week I spotted five butterflies on one of our butterfly bushes feeding at the same time. This was notable because it marked the first time I had spotted that many butterflies feeding together this year. From spring into the fall, it consistently draws more butterflies than anything else we grow. The plant feeds butterflies, moths, bumblebees and other pollinators.
Red-hot Poker (Kniphofia) – This large herbaceous perennial sends up an abundance of large spikes topped with clusters of long tubular flowers. We find the blooms are more often visited by hummingbirds than bees and other pollinators.
I hope you will share with me your list of nectar/pollen producing plants that have done well this year.