Late season plants for pollinators & 'Tropilife' gardening...

Following Caroline's (Germain) request asking what I planted for late season pollinators here's a photographic list of what worked well for me this year.

It would also be interesting to hear what plants others have found worked well for late season pollinators??

1. Purple Toadflax (Linaria Purpurea) is without any shadow of a doubt the best bee plant by miles in my garden. It is technically a wild flower and pops up where it wants which fortunately for me is slap bang in the middle of my perennial border! This starts flowering mid summer and is sill in flower now (October)

2. Corn Marigold (Chrysanthemum Segetum) is an annual corn field wild flower but is adored by most pollinators especially hover flies. Only this year I have found that if you dead head them regularly you can keep these going from May until first frosts, which is fantastic as they are literally 'alive' with pollinators all the time! 

3. Sedum is well known by most for it's ability to attract bees & butterflies. I also think it's great for late season when a lot of other stuff has gone over, again loved by all pollinators....

4. Helenium is great as it starts flowering in September and will go through to the first frost. Interestingly mine were looking a bit battered by all the rain we had this year so I gave them a 'light' chop about 2-3 weeks ago and It's now giving me a second flush of flowers which will see the bees & butterflies happy for a little longer!

5. Verbena Bonariensis is still in flower here and again has a long flowering season through to the first frosts. Long recognised as a valuable plant for bees & butterflies...

6. Agastache (Black Adder) this is the first year that I've grown this after reading that it was a good bee plant, which has proved correct! It has also been in flower for a good few of months and is still going strong! I've used it in my tropical border to add some colour and of course a source of food for the pollinators, which seems to have worked...

7. Rudbeckia, Lots of different types of Rudbeckia which are late flowering so a useful source of pollen, they tend to be nice bright yellows or rusty oranges so inject some great colour into a 'dull' time of the year...

8. Here's a topical one for you.... Large leaved plants such as Cannas & Bananas. I know that you think I've gone mad but I can honestly say that when you get some late summer/autumn sun (rare I know) the insects and butterflies like nothing better than to warm themselves up sat on a large leaf! I think that they store the heat so act like a large radiator for them! This is another reason why I now include a few clumps of wild flowers amongst my more 'tropical' planting as I want the whole garden to attract pollinators! ( I call this mixture of tropical & wildlife planting 'TROPILIFE' gardening! not sure if it will catch on though!!?)

9. Golden Rod (Solidago) Now this is an interesting plant that my Dad introduced me to! It's a good plant as it's tall yet strong, has lovely bright yellow flowers an is loved by pollinators when there's not much else about! however.... It can be quite invasive and a bit of a bully so will need positioning carefully maybe at the back of a border for example but be prepared to keep it in check!...

10. Asters. Lots of different varieties, sizes and colours but a great late season flower....

11. Persicaria Amplexicaulis. A cultivated weed some will tell you but this is a great bee plant and is extremely long flowering. Even now I'm still getting Honey bees on mine (when the sun shines!!) There are other varieties which all work well for bees I've found...

Oh also loved by the 'knot grass moth caterpillar' which is quite capable of striping the flowers in no time at all!!!....

12. Cosmos is my final choice as although it's an annual and generally associated with bright flowers at the height of summer it will in fact keep flowering right through to first frosts if you keep dead heading it every couple of days or so. I include them in the wild flower meadow area as they add height and continued flowering and of course are adored by just about everything that flies!!...

So there you have it! That's what has worked for me this year. I know it's getting late in the season now but it's still a good time to buy some of these plants cheap and get them in the ground so that your pollinators can enjoy them this time next year!!?

I hope that this is of use to some of you and that it answered your question also Caroline???



  • Thanks, higgy - a cracking series of photos, and some more plants to try! Pleased to see the Corn Marigold there - I've got some seed ready for next year to go with the poppies I usually sow; hope mine get as good a response as yours have! Will miss seeing all the 'buzzing' and 'flittering' creatures for the next few months. Oh, except for bees on the winter honeysuckle if we get any sunny days!

  • In reply to Rose Marsh:

    That's a really helpful, well illustrated post Higgy, nice one, great to see them all 'in action' as well!

    Warden Intern at Otmoor.

  • In reply to Rose Marsh:

    Excellent Higgy :)  thank you for posting this, the new areas are still in the planning stage as everything is a little bit too soggy to play with and the anti-chicken measures need to be sorted out..they love to help garden and are great at cleaning the soil of pests but also have a habit of scratching up baby plants and seeds :)

    Caroline in Jersey

    Cin J

  • In reply to Germain:

    That's a lovely selection of late flowering plants, Higgy, beautiful photos and good inspiration.

    I still have Monarda ( don't know which variety ) in bloom - not a native species but the bees love it.

    Verbena Bonariensis is one of my favourites but it doesn't seem to like Scottish weather or my soil or my propagator for that matter.  Last spring it would not even germinate for me!

    "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - Wlliam Blake

  • In reply to ClaireM:

    Thank you all very much for your comments, they are appreciated as always!

    Alan, Agastache is great isn't it? I'm glad you get the same response from the bees as I do! I shall certainly be looking at planting it elsewhere next year so I'm really pleased to read your comments about cuttings! I just hope that I haven't left it too late?

    ClaireM, I believe that the 'old' common name for Monarda is actually 'Bee Balm'!! I do have two Manrda plants which I only planted recently (a red and a white one) so I am really looking forward to see how it performs for me next year now!!

    Caroline, oh dear, now that you've confessed that your at the "planning stage" you do realise that you will now have to post up your progress on here don't you? You know how we all like to watch someone else's projects!!???? :-)



  • In reply to doggie:

    Thank you all so much for imparting this info - I was only discussing about bee/bird friendly plants on another thread yesterday and pouring through RSPB sites for inspiration - I'm sure I need look no further for the moment - just visit the nurseries armed with all this new detail!!!


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to WendyBartter:

    Great greenfingers post as ever Higgy!!

    I still have the odd - but enough to keep the insects entertained - flowers on some of the different honeysuckles, which is fantastic. The golden + normal himalayan honeysuckles are still attracting quite a lot of interest as well. There is another plant that is great at the moment, but I have no idea of the name, will def be taking cuttings + spreading it around. Will see if I can take pics + post.

    Always interesting to see your garden flourishing - wish I had more sunshine (or at least the chance of) in the garden, seem to garden in the shade most of the time.

    'In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks'  John Muir.       

    Excuse wobbily dyslexic spelling!

  • In reply to osprey:

    Thanks Alan, information received and filed for future use!!

    Hi Wendy, glad that we could all be of some use, we do try!!....

    Osprey, You are right honeysuckle is still good and lots of berries on mine which the birds are 'eyeing' up! Please do get some pictures posted of your mystery plant and we can all try and ID it for you!? Yes we have been lacking in sun somewhat but I have to say that when we do get an odd day of sun our garden seems to be practically crawling & buzzing with life which is really encouraging! We have had two new species of butterfly this year taking our tally to 16 species in the 2.5yrs we've been here, which I'm told is pretty good!....