Fall Wildflowers Create Interest
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2013
Ill. - Some of the best garden perennials for fall are also good at supporting
our native wildlife, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture
wildflowers and their cultivars—yellow goldenrod, purple asters, golden
sunflowers, and dusty rose Joe Pye—create a lot of interest not only because of
the attractive flowers but also for the amazing variety of native butterflies,
moths, and other insects that feed on them," said Nancy Pollard.
wildflowers are particularly outstanding at attracting adult moths and
butterflies, which lay eggs that hatch into larva (caterpillars). The larvae
provide a high-protein source of food for many birds, particularly warblers and
neo-tropical migrant birds of conservation concern. Birds are very good at
keeping populations of these insects in check so it is a very good situation
for all," Pollard explained.
that bloom in the fall can to be tall, up to 2 to 6 feet or more depending on
the species and cultivar. Pollard said these often work best at the back of the
varieties have been selected and given cultivar names because they are shorter,
more compact or more disease resistant than the average species
plant. Cultivars are usually propagated by cuttings. Because cultivars do
not always come true from seed, you may want to cut back stems after flowering
to prevent self-seeding of cultivars," she said.
(Solidago sp.) thrives in sun to part sun and is a deer-resistant
perennial. Pollard described the flowers as "stunning" when paired with
blue and purple New England asters. Many species are available. Great
Solidago flexicaulis 'Variegata': with variegated foliage it brightens semi-shaded
wooded areas. This goldenrod is over 4 feet tall and has a spreading nature. It
blooms from early September to mid-October.
Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks' has graceful fine textured foliage with arching
branches. The stems of the golden blooms arch in many directions like
fireworks. It grows three to 4 feet tall. It tolerates wet soil and grows
slowly by underground rhizomes but generally doesn't get out of hand. It blooms
mid-September to late October.
Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece,' which has pyramidal densely flowering stems that
form a compact groundcover, grows to 18 to 36 inches depending on site
conditions. It is drought tolerant and is also good for fall container
gardens. September flowers attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.
(now in the genus Symphyotrichum but widely sold as Aster) do
well in sunny sites with good air circulation or their foliage might suffer
from mildew. "Pinch back the taller varieties until June as you would
chrysanthemums. Most will tolerate sandy, clay, poor soils and some
drought. There are mixed reviews whether these are deer resistant or not,
leaning toward not. It depends on many factors," Pollard said.
favorite asters trialed at the Chicago Botanic Gardens are New England
aster, A. novae-angliae
'Alma Potschke', a 3-foot, showy reddish pink and 'Purple Dome,' a dwarf (18
aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolium, formerly Aster oblongifolius)
was also a Chicago Botanic Garden favorite. Abundant sky-blue flowers are borne
on stiff, 1- to 3-foot stems into October or later before frost. The cultivar
'October Skies' is a winner at just 18 inches high.
said aromatic aster 'Fannys' is also a good cultivar with abundant 1.5-inch,
dark purple and yellow flowers. This blooms very late in October or even
November. The gray-green, rust-resistant, fragrant leaves spread to form large
clumps 3 to 4 feet tall. "It grows easily and quickly in dry to average
conditions and tolerates clay or sandy soil," she said.
Pye (Eutrochium, formerly Eupatorium) is a great plant not
favored by deer. The showy 'Gateway' has burgundy stems 4 to 6 feet tall,
topped by dusky rose nosegays that are 1 foot across. "Cut back the tips in
June to create a bushier plant. It is a magnet for butterflies and birds in the
fall," she added. Joe Pye prefers full sun and likes average to abundant
said that while there are some perennial sunflowers (Helianthus sp.)
available commercially, helianthus annuus, the native annual, is so
beloved, it is a garden staple. "There is a sunflower for every garden
situation ranging from the 16-inch Elf to the 3-foot Solar Flash, to the
12-foot Mammoth. The color palette has expanded from the always alluring Van
Gogh painting's yellow with a brown center, to whites, burgundies, and rose
pink, with many tints and shades of colors in between," she said.
they are easy to grow from seed, sunflowers prefer sun," Pollard noted.
Source: Nancy Pollard, Extension Educator, Horticulture, firstname.lastname@example.org