We all know the benefits of pollinators. Many of the crops that we grow would not be possible without pollinators. The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has a program where they designate four plants as the pollinator plants of the year. All four are native plants. The goal is to get more nurseries growing these pollinators and to encourage people to plant them in their gardens. Let’s go through each of one and give a brief plant profile on them.
False rosemary is the first pollinator plant of the year. It is a perennial. It does look like rosemary, but the leaves have a minty smell when crushed. They have dainty light purple flowers that bloom in the spring. Unfortunately, for us, this plant does not do well, as it needs a warmer climate than what we have in the mountains. It is hardy to USDA zone 8a; we are in zones 6a-7, depending on your elevation.
Sweet pepperbush is great plant that will grow in our area. It is native to the Eastern US. It blooms in the summer and grows to be 4-8 feet tall. There are some dwarf cultivars of it available too. It has white blooms that attract birds, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It can take part shade, which is good for our area, as we have many trees and lots of shade. It doesn’t have many problems with disease or insects. It does have a cousin called the mountain pepperbush that can grow in the North Georgia Mountains. The mountain pepperbush grows to be 12-20 feet tall.
Butterfly weed is a plant that every pollinator garden should have. It is our native milkweed. You can see it blooming along the side of the road during the summer. It has bright orange clusters of small flowers. It attracts butterflies and native bees. This one is not as tall, only growing to be 1-2 feet tall. I don’t recommend moving from the roadside to your house, because native plants don’t like to be transplanted, especially after bloom. You can purchase this from local nurseries. It likes to be grown in full sun.
The last plant is downy goldenrod. It’s a fall bloomer and grows 1-3 feet tall. It’s a great plant for native bees and other pollinators. There are a number of different species of goldenrod. We start to see a lot of goldenrod bloom at the end of August and into September. Many beekeepers will stop collecting honey from bees once goldenrod starts to bloom. Goldenrod honey is not as marketable, and by not collecting honey, it gives the bees a chance to build up their stores for winter.
Planting a pollinator garden is beneficial to your garden and to the pollinators. If you have questions about pollinator gardening contact your County Extension Office or email me at [email protected]
I will be hosting a raised garden bed program at Hamilton Garden on April 22 at 10 am. There will be an educational portion of the program that everyone is welcome to attend. I will also have some 4×4 ft. raised beds available for people to purchase for $40. To reserve your raised bed call 706-439-6030 and I will put you down.