Just because it’s September doesn’t mean your garden is all done flowering.
If you have been trying to encourage pollinators to come to your garden, they still need pollen and nectar.
Adding later blooming plants to the garden will help all pollinators. It will encourage migrating monarch butterflies to visit your garden as they fuel up for their trip to Mexico.
If you don’t know where to start, here are a few native plants that can add some splendor to your September garden.
If September was a color it would be yellow, mainly because the goldenrods are starting to bloom. There are over a 100 different species, most of which are native to North America.
Goldenrod belongs to the aster family and is of the genus Solidago. We generally associate it with sunny, open fields but there are species that grow in other environments, even shade.
Some are way too aggressive for the garden but in the right setting they are stunning — and all sorts of pollinators love the blooms. An added bonus — deer won’t bother it.
Zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis) has bright yellow flowers that bloom in clusters on the stem in a zigzag pattern. If you have shade, give Zigzag goldenrod a try.
Blue-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago caesia) is not an aggressive spreader. Bunches of flowers bloom along the length of the purplish stems.
Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa) is a later blooming species that produces a spike of foot long blooms.
‘Fireworks’ goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) is a cultivar that produces beautiful arching sprays of bright yellow blooms. It blooms later in September and into October adding color to the fall garden.
Don’t blame goldenrod for your hay fever. The real culprit is likely one of the ragweeds.
Just one ragweed plant can produce a billion grains of pollen in a season.
Ragweed flowers are rather unassuming so we hardly notice them, while goldenrod makes a bold statement with its bright yellow flowers. Ragweed pollen is moved around by the wind causing you to sneeze whereas goldenrod pollen is large and sticky and needs insects to move it.
Purple is the perfect color to match up with yellow.
If you have goldenrod, then purple New England asters are a must or one of the Ironweeds.
Ironweed belongs to the genus Vernonia. It is also in the aster family and they have beautiful, fuzzy purple flowers.
They are a tough group of plants, hence the name. Deer tend not to eat them as the leaves are bitter. Pollinators love them and since most of purple flowering one’s bloom later in the season they are a great choice for the garden.
They do tend to be tall, but there are some cultivars that are more compact.
Tall or giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) tops out at around 10 feet or more and is one of the first ironweed to bloom later in the summer.
New York ironweed (Vernonia noveborecensis) is a bit shorter at 4 to 8 feet tall and it is currently in bloom. In the wild, New York ironweed grows in wet sites, but it is adaptable to drier garden conditions.
Narrowleaf ironweed ‘Iron Butterfly’ (Vernonia lettermanii) is a more compact cultivar growing two to three feet tall. It forms a nice tight clump and is less gangly than some of its cousins.
Asters are a staple of the fall garden and also good plants for pollinators and butterflies.
Flat topped white aster (Doellingeria umbellata) starts to bloom mid-August and continues into September. It lives up to its name as the small, white flowers with yellow centers sit atop multiple branches, looking a bit like a lady’s parasol.
Growing 2 to 5 feet tall, the plants spread by underground rhizomes and also by seeds.
The New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae) has to be one of the quintessential plants of fall in WNY.
At 3 to 6 feet tall, the deep violet to lavender-pink, daisy-like flowers light up the garden. It prefers well-drained, moist, rich soils in full sun.
Another deer resistant native, it is relatively easy to grow and drought tolerant. It can be susceptible to powdery mildew so make sure it gets good air circulation around the plant.
The White Woodland Aster (Aster divaricatus) is one of the showiest of the shade-loving asters. Clusters of white flowers brighten up the shade garden in late summer.
The Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifolius) has heart shaped leaves to complement its pale to rich blue flowers with yellow centers. Great naturalizers for shaded areas, wood asters will cheer up shade gardens and attract beneficial pollinators.
Native to the Eastern United States, Mistflower or Hardy Ageratum (Conoclinium coelestinum) is covered with blue-violet fuzzy looking flowers from early September until frost.
The flowers of this hardy perennial look much like the annual ageratum. It does not like soils that dry out so it may sulk if you have it in full sun without enough moisture.
It will tolerate part shade conditions.
Plants grow 1 to 2 feet tall. It can be a bit aggressive in the garden as it creeps along by rhizomes forming large patches.
Heuchera villosa ‘Autumn Bride’ is a must have for the fall garden. A native coral bell, it also goes by the name of “hairy alum root.” This is a big coral bell that makes a statement even when it’s not in bloom. The velvety, somewhat triangular light green leaves form a large mound of foliage.
In early September the white flowers, which are loved by pollinators, start to appear on slender stems above the foliage. You can also plant Heuchera villosa ‘Purpurea’ which has coppery purple leaves for some contrast. Both would like to be planted in full sun to part shade.
To keep heuchera clumps going they should be divided in the spring every couple of years.
Keep your garden blooming and your pollinators happy with some of these wonderful native plants.
Have a gardening question? The Master Gardener office is open.
Please wear a mask when visiting the CCE office and check in at the reception window.
Master Gardener volunteers are normally in the office Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to noon You can stop in at our CCE office at 420 East Main St. in Batavia, call (585) 343-3040, ext. 127, or e-mail email@example.com. Visit the CCE web site at genesee.cce.cornell.edu or like us on Facebook www.facebook.com/CCEofGenesee.
Garden Talk on Oct. 1 will be held on Zoom and will start at noon. The topic will be “Easy Preserving.”
Register at the CCE website events page.