Well, if there was one native plant I had to choose or recommend as a nectar source for pollinators, my choice would be Joe Pye Weed. If you do not have this beautiful American native and can grow it near you, be sure to include it in your plans. I have two patches started in two different areas of my garden. The minute Joe Pye comes into bloom, it is covered in bees, flies, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.
There are many varieties of Joe Pye to choose from. I am growing Eupatorium purp. maculatum Gateway, a cultivar which I purchased from Bluestone Perennials. It is so far, the tallest Joe Pye I have in my garden. This fall I discovered a few volunteers and have moved them into other areas of my garden.
|White Admiral Butterfly on Eupatorium Gateway|
I am also growing Eupatorium maculatum or Spotted Joe Pye Weed, a true native I purchased from Prairie Moon.
|Monarch Butterfly on Eupatorium maculatum|
A native choice for more shaded areas would be Eupatorium purpureum or Sweet Joe Pye Weed (which I have just added to my wish list for the north side of our garage/workshop). Its blooms have a vanilla scent and Prairie Moon notes that Native Americans used this plant to cure fevers.
I am also growing Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate,' or Snakeroot. Its leaves are burgundy and its blooms white. It blooms much later in the fall.
Just a note that on Lady Bird Johnson's Wildflowercenter site, the Joe Pye Weeds have been assigned to the genus Eupatoriadelphus to separate them from the Bonesets (Eupatorium). Some sources still refer to Joe Pye species as Eupatorium. The genus Eupatoriadelphus differs from the genus Eupatorium by whorled leaves, while Eupatorium has opposite leaves. I find that the blooms of either genus attract many pollinators.
If you like merry butterflies, try growing a variety of Eupatorium, or Eupatoriadelphus. Maybe more than one?