Q: What are some good pollinator-friendly plants I can add to my garden this fall?
A: Fall is a time of change for insects and wildlife as they prepare for winter. Most hummingbirds and Monarch butterflies will make the long trip south across the Gulf of Mexico, though some will overwinter in our area. We can help these beneficial pollinators by continuing to fill nectar feeders and plant pollinator-friendly flowers with bright, colorful, tubular blooms.
Salvias are some of the best flowers to plant during the fall to attract all kinds of flying friends, like birds, butterflies and bees. The Texas native red sage (Salvia coccinea) will keep on blooming and growing as long as the weather stays temperate. Mexican sage (Salvia mexicana) can be found in various combinations of light or dark blue blooms with indigo to chartreuse bracts. Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) has silver leaves and velvety purple or white bracts and blooms.
Other pollinator favorites include flame acanthus (Anisacanthus wrightii), a rounded shrub with orange blooms; the cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), a show-stopper with spikes of stunning red; and mistflowers (Conoclinium species) with clusters of lavender, tufted flowers. When grown alongside goldenrod (Solidago species), the combination of lavender and golden yellow is spectacular.
To learn more about pollinator-friendly plants and gardening for wildlife, fly over to the Mercer Botanic Gardens Pollinator Festival Saturday, Oct. 5, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.