Carrie Brown, Conservation Project Manager
“Plant it and they will come!” Regarding native flowering plants and local pollinators, this happens to be the case! Due to increasing pressures such as development & urbanization, changing climate, and habitat degradation, native pollinators need our help now more than ever. You can make a difference by planting native plants that support pollinators’ needs and increase their chances of survival.
Host plants provide the means for certain pollinators to complete their life cycle. For instance, Swamp Milkweed, Common Milkweed (see right) and Butterfly Weed are all host plants of the iconic Monarch Butterfly. In fact, milkweed is the only plant that can support the larvae of these graceful creatures; without it, the Monarch population cannot survive. Other flowering plants can act as host plants, as well. White Turtlehead is used for egg-laying by the majestic Baltimore Checkerspot, while Foxglove Beardtongue is used as a food source for its developing caterpillars. The Orange Sulphur and Eastern Tailed Blue butterflies prefer the lush Blue False (Wild) Indigo. Matches made by nature, these important pollinators rely on their specific host plants for their very survival.
Of course, the nectar and pollen supplied by flowering plants act as food sources for all sorts of native pollinators! The Ruby-Throated Hummingbird is particularly attracted to Cardinal Flower (see left), also known as Red Lobelia. This late summer bloomer is an excellent addition to any butterfly or bird garden. Equally elegant are the flowering spikes of Dense Blazing Star (see right), whose blossoms provide a food source for the caterpillars of the rare Glorious Flower Moth. Also visited by long-tongued bees, butterflies and skippers, this plant is an excellent addition to any pollinator garden ecosystem. One must not forget to add the sweet-smelling Anise Hyssop to the list! This charming member of the mint family produces many showy purple flower spikes that support a myriad of pollinators, including many bee species, hummingbirds, butterflies and skippers. The best part is that by planting a variety of flowering natives, one is sure to support a variety of pollinators!
In The Dawes Arboretum’s quest to support and increase local pollinator populations, we have partnered with local nurseries to offer you the above-mentioned plants, along with other native species, in our gift shop. By purchasing a Pollinator Plant Kit, you too can do your part to ensure that these beautiful creatures can be enjoyed by generations to come. And with 11 different native perennials to choose from, you can support a variety of species in the process.
Each $12 Pollinator Plant Kit includes 4 four-inch perennials of varying species. These kits can also be purchased from The Dawes Arboretum’s booth at the Canal District Market in Newark on July 29th and August 26th. Thank you for partnering with us in this mission to conserve these important creatures and create habitats that allow them to thrive!
Plants offered include:
(Blue False Indigo)
(Narrow-leaved Purple Coneflower)
(Dense Blazing Star)
(Hairy Mountain Mint)