Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Rudbeckia laciniata

Commonly called cutleaf coneflower, this member of the aster family is a fabulous fall bloomer. I love it for all the pollinators it attracts; bees, wasps, and butterflies. Take a look who is dangling from the flower heads! More on this at the end of the post.

Rudbeckia laciniate is a tall plant, growing to heights of 8' or more. In our garden it usually stays around 5' to 6' probably because it isn't in the moist condition it prefers to grow in. We planted several clumps in various areas of our garden for end of summer color and to provide late season pollinators food. The flower is a globular cone surrounded by drooping yellow rays.

Various wasps gather on the flower heads, sticking their proboscis into the tubes to find nectar.

Here's a closer look.

Blue-winged wasps are another frequent visitor. A non-native wasp, but beneficial in the garden, as it is a natural predator of the Japanese beetle. The female wasp will dig up the beetle grub, sting it to paralyze it and then place it in a hole with a fertilized egg. When the wasp larva hatches, it will eat the grub. 

The blue-winged wasps have fuzzier bodies than most wasps and do grab some pollen as they move from one flower to another. 

As the rudbeckia laciniate are rather lanky, they are also prime real estate for other insects such as spiders, who like to set up their webs in pollinator traffic areas. Or praying mantis who skulk around looking for an easy meal

or this love session.

This is a great native to consider for your garden. Deer don't like it. And it is a good choice for a rain garden, pocket meadow or perennial garden. Plant with Eupatorium perfoliatum or lobelia cardinalis for more impact. 

I'm joining Clay and Limestone for the monthly Wildflower Wednesday celebration. See what others are sharing here

Sunday, September 15, 2019

What's Blooming in September

Eventually it will cool down. Eventually it will rain. This is what I have been telling myself for the past month as we set record breaking temperatures, almost daily. Our temperatures have been in the high 90s for more than a month and not a drop of rain. It is so sad to see the plants turning brown prematurely and shriveling up due to our dry conditions. Then yesterday evening a storm rolled in bringing two inches of rain. What a relief!

I thought I would be hard pressed to find flowers to share for bloom day but the garden is surprisingly resilient and colorful. Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England Aster) is the earliest aster to bloom in our garden. This lovely tolerates our clay soil and also does well in moist conditions, which our winter months often bring.

The buzz of our native bumble bees are constant. They seek nectar from the yellow flowers while collecting pollen on their hind legs. Asters are an important source of food for insects late in the season and I'll have more to share in the months to come.

bumble bee on New England aster
Nearby is Salvia Amistead from High Country Gardens. It's a tall growing sage with gorgeous violet-purple flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. We can view this plant from our back deck and enjoy watching the ruby throat hummers frequently visiting.

Ruby Throat Hummingbird visiting Salvia Amistead
It is also loaded with cloudless sulphur butterflies. A cloud of yellow periodically bursts into the sky whenever a hummer arrives and tells them to bugger off. At this time of year there are so many hummers that their visits to blooms are fleeting. Males are patrolling their food sources and racing around the garden. At least this allows the butterflies to hastily settle in again.  

cloudless Sulphur butterfly
Several skipper butterflies frequent the blooms too, reaching their proboscis to the back of the tube to reach the nectar.

skipper butterfly on sage
September is also time for solidago to bloom. From a distance the bright yellow blooms cheer up the otherwise crispy garden conditions. A closer look reveals lots of activity.

pollinating fly on goldenrod flowers

paper wasp visiting goldenrod
Not only are pollinators frequent visitors but there are other insects lurking in the blooms, like this green lynx spider who has a big egg sac to protect. Mama spider will hug the egg sac for two weeks until the baby spiders hatch. This is all the love they'll get because they hatch as fully functioning spiders and have to fend for themselves.

green lynx spider with 
Helianthus porteri (Stone Mountain Daisy), a reseeding annual, is abundant in September. Every year it finds more space in our garden to spread.

native bumble bee on Stone Mountain Daisy

skipper butterfly with Helianthus porteri flower
It think it is lovely paired with little blue stem grass.

Stone Mountain daisy with little blue stem grass
It's amazing what a little rain can do for a parched garden. As long as there are still flowers for the pollinators to take them through the end of the season, we're all good. 

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens