Monday, January 14, 2013

Succession Planting


Planting Native Perennials - Striving For a Constant Food Supply

Native plants that attract bees Wingstem
  Nourishment for Bees & Insects

Twice in one week, the topic of succession planting was brought up. The first was a phone conversation with my brother Craig; who is concentrating on providing food for his bees and other pollinators year round. This is pretty important to someone who makes the best tasting wine in the state of Pennsylvania. No pollinators.. no fruit ... no wine.

Although he does cross pollinate some of his plants (like pumpkins) with a tiny paint brush; tackling his entire acre may not be a wise use of his time. Learning to plant flowers and plants that bloom year round is certainly advantageous to the success of his hobby.

 Nourishment For Birds
wildflowers that attract bees Joe-pye-weed

 The second conversation originated from Dave's comment posted on my Attracting Hummingbirds page. His goal is to plant native species that supply four seasons worth of  food for birds that he has attracted to his property.

Now I was curious. I am raising native plants that provide a constant supply of food for the bees and insects that I am attempting to attract? Are there seasons of the year that insects are forced to forge elsewhere? I needed to find out.

Since, I am taking several free computer classes at our local library; I thought I would put my new skills to work by creating a fancy Excel table.

                                                              Charts Don't Lie

It was interesting to learn that yes, Nodding Onion Gardens offers a significant supply of nourishing pollen and nectar July through September, but the choices and selections are a bit slim in early spring and late fall.  One thing that stood out from my chart was the fact that some of the more common plants had the longest work schedule. As you can see, Wingstem and Boneset which are absolute work horses; both are very common in our Metro Parks but due to their size are not popular for small backyards. Giant Hyssop is a gang buster!

I used blooming dates stated in  Prairie Moon Nurseries' catalog, Winnoa MN. This was my attempt to  keep dates consistent. In some case my plants experienced bit of a variance from Prairie Moon's  dates.

Nodding Onion Gardens - Native Plants - 2012

Scientific Name
Common Name

Agastache scrophulariaefolia
Purple Giant Hyssop

Allium cernuum
Nodding Onion

Aquilegia canadensis
Wild Columbine

Arisaema triphyllum
Jack in the Pulpit

Asarum canadense
Wild Ginger

Asclepias exaltata
Poke Milkweed

Asclelpias incarnata
Swamp milkweed

Asclepias purpurascens
Purple Milkweed

Asclepias sullivantii
Prairie Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca
Common Milkweed

Asclepias tuberosa

Aster laevis
Smooth Blue Aster

Baptisia australis
Wild Blue Indigo

Chelone glabra

Coreopsis tinctoria
Plains Coreopsis

Dicentra cucullaria
Dutchman's Breeches

Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflower

Erynguim yuccifolium
Rattlesnake Master

Eupatorium altissimum
Tall Boneset

Eupatorium maculatum
Joe- Pye- Weed

Filipendula rubra
Queen-of the Prairie

Gaillardia pulchella
Indian Blanket

Geranium maculatum
Wild Geranium

Helenium flexusum
Purple - headed Sneezeweed

Helianthus mollis
Downy Sunflower

Helianthus stromosus
Pale-leaved Sunflower

Heliopsis helianthoides
Oxeye Sunflower

Hydrastis canadensis
Golden Seal

Lobelia alba
White Cardinal Flower

Lobelia cardinalis
Cardinal Flower

Lobelia siphilitica
Great Blue Lobelia

Lupinus perennis
Wild Lupine

Mertensia virginica
Virginia Bluebells

Monarda fistulosa
Wild Bergmot

Penstemon digitalis
Foxglove Beardtongue

Phlox pilosa
Prairie Phlox

Physostegia virginiana
Obedient Plant

Podophyllum peltatum
May - Apple

Poloygonatum canaliculatum
Solomon's Seal


Pycnanthemum tenuifolium
Narrow- leaved Mnt. Mint

Ratibida- pinnata
Yellow -Coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata
Green Headed Coneflower

Rudbeckia triloba
Thin leaved Coneflower

Silphium integrifolium
Cup Plant

Tradescantia ohiensis
Ohio Spiderwort

Verbesina alternifolia

Vernonia noveboracensis
New York Ironweed

Viola peditifida
Prairie Violets


  1. Nice post. The information you present is an interesting take on the benefits of succession planting. Keep up the planting and great blogging work.

  2. Thank you Mario,

    I can't take credit for the idea of providing food for pollinators/wildlife year long, that came from my brother Craig's wife Moon Eagle along with comments from Dave; I just put it on paper (document) to see where my yard stood.

    Your kind comments are appreciated, not sure what to think about "blogging" as it is all new to me.

  3. Just found your Blog. You have some great information posted. Thanks. Living here along the shores of Lake Michigan in USA, I try to learn where ever I can. Good stuff. Hope to return.

    1. Thank you, What a motivator to keep going with all of this!

  4. I have just discovered you - and I'm so pleased I have!

    One of the key issues in our new plantings here is trying to provide a food source for beneficial insects all year round. We so often talk about successional planting for our own food supplies (and that is tricky enough), but rarely have I seen any discussion about providing for wildlife all year round.

    I shall follow your progress with interest.

  5. Thank you for your kind words.

    I too have so much to learn on succession planting that is part of what makes it fun! I was telling my bother Craig about the comments that I have gotten on what is really his topic. He was challenging me to go one step further and begin to think about a winter food supply. Not just feeding with bird seeds with seed but adding plants like Winter Berry and Arrowwood.

  6. A really nice gardening blog! - Keep us up to date on what is happening on your Garden Blog
    It would be great to see you over at the Blooming Gardening Blogs Community.

  7. Thank you for the kind, encouraging words. I appreciate the invitation to your Blog Community. Just finished filling our the form.

  8. Enjoyed your post, we have been rearing bees for 10 years, love those guys!

  9. Thank you. Ten years that is wonderful!