As I write this column, we are well into the second week of November. Nowadays when my wife and I walk outside and scan our gardens, it is obvious that most of the wild and ornamental nectar plants that fed untold numbers of wild pollinators this fall are no longer blooming. Yet, in spite of this, a variety of insects is still hard at work collecting nectar and/or pollen. Fortunately, for them, they can still find food in some plants that my wife and I have grown in containers on our deck. These plants are now the primary source of food for a wide variety of pollinators.
Although some of the plants we grew on our deck have been nipped by a frost a couple of weeks ago, four species of plants are still blooming and attracting most the of butterflies, carpenter bees, bumblebees and other pollinators we are now seeing.
Globe amaranth has been blooming since last summer. Currently their blooms seem to be favored by checkered skippers, fiery skippers, whirlabouts, dun skippers, common buckeyes, and fiery skippers. Occasionally a cloudless sulphur or gulf fritillary we land on the plants’ colorful globe-shaped blooms. Bumblebees also visit the plants.
A single Mexican sunflower is still producing blooms that are being visited by bees and butterflies. It survived the frost because it was growing close to the house.
With each passing day, our scarlet sage plants are producing fewer new blossoms. Nevertheless, there are still enough red blossoms to attract their share of the cloudless sulphurs, sleepy oranges, and gulf fritillaries pollinators that are still hanging on in our yard.
However, beyond a shadow of a doubt, pineapple sage is the star of the show. Our pineapple sage plants are still blooming in profusion. A day ago, I saw seven cloudless sulfurs and a couple of gulf fritillaries nectaring at the same time at a blossoms produced by scarlet sage plants growing in a single large container. Bumblebees and a few carpenter bees are still feeding on the blossoms too.
We hope our plants continue to bloom for some time to come. However, we know eventually we will be left with lots of fond memories of the beauty and pollinators the plants have brought us this year.
After they cease blooming, we plan on leaving the plants in place, as we know the seeds they have produced will be eaten by cardinals, American goldfinches, house finches and others well into the winter.
We are already making plans for next year. We want to continue expanding the number and variety of autumn bloomers.
If we are successful, I am certain our backyard pollinators and birds will benefit from our efforts.
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