September 15, 2016
After struggling through the heat and drought of summer, fall offers the perfect conditions for planting. Cooler temperatures and increased rainfall are beneficial for your new plantings and more pleasant for gardening. So now is the perfect time to start thinking about what changes you would like to make in your garden. As you make your plans, here are a few things to consider.
Will the butterflies in your garden have the necessary fall resources? Late blooming perennials provide much needed nectar sources. In sunny locations Cup plant (Silphium cornatum), Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), False Aster (Boltonia asteroids), and Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) are a few examples that will bring height to your garden; while a variety of Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), Goldenrods (Solidago spp.), Blazingstars (Liatris spp.), Asters (Symphiotrychum spp.) and Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) will provide mid to lower color and interest. In areas where drought tolerance is a concern Ironweed (Vernonia spp.), Wild Quinine (Parthenium integifolium), and Rattlesnake Master (Eryngiam yuccifolium) make nice additions. If deer are frequent visitors in your garden consider Clustered Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemun muticum) or one of the species of Monarda (Monarda spp.). For shaded sites Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), Woodland sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus), and White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata) are wonderful selections.
Of course, butterflies will also be looking for host plants to feed their final generations. In sunny locations a selection of milkweed species (Asclepias spp.) will attract Monarchs (Danaus plerippus). For part sun gardens, Wild Petunia (Ruellia humillis) host the Buckeye (Junonia coenia) while Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) and Heart-leaf Alexander (Zizia aptera) host the Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxemes). If you are looking for a shade loving host try White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra) to attract the Baltimore (Euphydryas phaeton).
Are there any additions you would like to make for the birds in your garden? Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), a variety of Rudbeckias (Rudbeckia spp.), Blazingstars (Liatris spp.), and Coreopsis (Coreopsis spp.) offer a source of seeds to our resident and migratory bird species. Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphlitica) and Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) will supply nectar for the Ruby Throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). The addition of Viburnums (Viburnum spp.), Hollies (Ilex spp.), Beautyberrys (Calicarpa Americana), and Chokeberries (Aronia arbutifolia) will provide berries for many fruit eating bird species.
The addition of wildlife attracting plants this fall will be pleasing to you and your garden visitors. While they enjoy an abundant supply of much needed resources, you can enjoy the beauty of the blooms, the fall colors, and the wildlife. So what would you like to plant this fall? Come see us at the Virginia Living Museum’s annual Fall Native Plant Sale for advice, ideas and the plants you would like to see in your garden.