wild blue phlox flowers

Pollinator Planting Guides

Click on a map to download the Ecoregional Planting Guide. Each guide will give you information on specific plant traits that pollinators prefer ( color, odor, pollen, nectar, flower shape ) as well as a list of plants to support pollinators in that region. There are many overlaps in plant varieties in these guides. We wanted to include specific regions because we have customers that are from nearby areas that may live in a different zone. Mankato is zone 4b and in the Prairie Parkland Temperate Province.

Don’t have room for an in-ground pollinator garden? Check out the portable pollinator garden list from National Garden Bureau!

Prairie Parkland Temperate Province Ecoregional Planting Guide Regional  Map
Eastern Broadleaf Forest Continental   Province  Ecoregional Planting Guide

Sources: Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Prairie Parkland, Temperate Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, USA. https://www.pollinator.org/guides#about

Pollinator Partnership. Selecting Plants for Pollinators, Eastern Broadleaf Forest, Continental Province. Published by Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, USA. https://www.pollinator.org/guides#about

ABOUT POLLINATOR PARTNERSHIP MISSION

“Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food.

They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.

Without the actions of pollinators agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse.”

Learn more.

botanical interests flower seed packets

Easy Fall Planting

Fall is the second-best time to plant, with some saying it’s the best! There are flower seeds you can sow after hard, killing frost for earlier blooms next season. Landscape plants, like perennials, trees, shrubs, and evergreens benefit from the less stressful cooler weather, reduced pest and diseases, and focus their energy on root development. Garlic bulbs and fall flower bulbs are also planted in the fall and they are as easy as dig, drop, and done

FALL SOWN SEEDS

PERENNIALS

Sow perennials after a hard frost, below 25 F, that need stratification, the process of seeds being in a cold environment and then breaking dormancy once the weather warms. This ensures that they will not sprout until the following spring.

Mark the spot. Label the area of sown seeds with stakes. If we have a dry winter and less rain in the spring, make sure to water your seeds in the spring to keep soil moist.

We get a shipment of the next years seed from Botanical Interests in late summer, and they provide a list of perennial and biennial varieties that need stratification for higher rate of germination. Sow these after a hard frost to avoid early germination.

  • Blue and Breezy Flax Seeds
  • Forget-Me-Not
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Russell Lupine Blend
  • Milkweed
  • Penstemon
  • Sundial Lupine Bluebonnet
  • Colorado Blend Yarrow

ANNUALS

You’ll get earlier blooms and reduce time in the late winter/early spring sowing seeds indoors and transplanting seedlings when warm enough. The moisture from melting snow will greatly reduce your need to water in the spring.

Tips for sowing annual seed:

Sow the seeds after a killing freeze but before snow. You may also sow in late winter between snow fall. The snow helps bury seeds and insulates them, helping to retain moisture.

Mix the seed with a bit of sand before sowing. This helps you space your seed more evenly and gives you a better visual of where you sow your seed.

Mark where you planted with labeled garden stakes to avoid damaging emerging flowers.

Annuals to sow in the fall:

  • Bachelor Buttons
  • California Bluebells
  • Bluebonnet
  • Larkspur
  • Poppy

Info Source: Botanical Interests

GARLIC

Garlic is one of the easiest to grow crops. The bulbs are planted in the fall and they are start to emerge early spring. They don’t mind hot summer weather, require little watering if we have consistent rain, and need well-draining soil. We recommend adding compost to your planting area two weeks before planting your garlic. Download our Growing and Storing Guide below or pick up a copy in the store when you get your garlic bulbs.

FALL PLANTED BULBS

Bulbs are really as easy as dig, drop, and done. Each bulb packet will tell you the depth to plant and timing since they have different depth needs. When planting, make sure the soil is well-draining (soil doesn’t stay soggy more than a day) and use Bulb Tone to get their roots off to a healthy start before the ground freezes. Amend your soil with compost or top soil if it’s compacted or not well-draining.

LANDSCAPE PLANTS

Fall is a wonderful time to plant! The heat of the summer is done and the cooler weather is less stressful for the plants during transplanting. The soil also stays moist longer, which requires less frequent water for you! We always recommend mulching around your new landscape plants, leaving a couple inches open around the stems, and wait to do heavy mulching (more than 2 inches), until the ground is completely frozen.

Trees, Shrubs, and Evergreen

Trees, shrubs, and evergreens can be planted up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.). If the trees or shrubs are dormant by the time of planting, you may not need to water if the soil stays slightly moist. Make sure to mulch 2-3 inches around the root zone and wrap your tree saplings Oct. 31st or as soon as possible after that. If you have issues with rabbits or deer around, get a hard plastic mesh tree guard. You’ll be happy you did because if animals chew around the entire tree diameter, it’ll cut off nutrients to the tree. Shrubs and evergreens can also experience animal damage from hungry animals so use a granular or spray animal repellent or fencing.

Deeply water your plants all the way up to ground freeze. Only water when the top 2- 3 inches are dry. It’s usually 5 gallons of water every week to two weeks depending on your soil type, size of the plant, and weather.

Here is an extra note about evergreens. It’s very important evergreens have adequate water before ground freeze or you may experience browning of needles the next spring. Evergreens do better when planted early fall instead of late fall to help them take up moisture before freezing. They slowly lose water from their needles over winter and if they are in an area of high winds and/or bright, all day sun, it dries them out quicker. Read more about evergreen winter care.

Perennials

You can plant perennials up to 6 weeks before ground freeze (average ground freeze is beginning of Dec.) but sooner the better for transplanting success. Just make sure they are watered until freeze and heavily mulched to protect their root systems once the ground is frozen, and no sooner. Smaller potted perennials tend to have shorter root systems before they are established in your soil. When planting use a slow release fertilizer, like Biotone, and keep the deeper soil moist, not soggy. When the top couple inches are dry, it’s safe to water. The plant roots will reach deeper into the soil and create a more robust root system if you water longer and deeper and can reduce watering frequency.

Fall is also a good time to split perennials that have bloomed in the spring or early summer. Iris and peonies, in particular, should be split during the fall months. You can split other perennials but the rule of thumb is if it blooms late summer or fall, split in the spring and vice versa. Don’t transplant perennials while in bloom but if you absolutely need to split them, wait a few weeks after blooming. Dividing perennials (PDF List of perennials and dividing time)

Top 8 ‘Tough as Nails’ Perennials

When it comes to plants, reliable is a characteristic we love! This is our top 8  ‘tough as nails’ perennials that will come back every year and tolerate a wide array of conditions. We would like to mention, even though they are tough, it doesn’t mean they can be completely neglected of nutrients, sun, and water. These plants, after their first couple years of more watchful care, will definitely catch your attention with their beauty, tenacity and reduced level of care once established.


Yarrow

achillea-yarrow-garden

Yarrow Vintage Rose with Salvia in the background.

Achillea millefolium is a Native American plant. Yarrow adds light texture to a garden and one of the best low care perennials for adding a burst of color.  It grows tall ( can be up to 3′-4′) with showy clusters of fragrant white, red, pink, or yellow flowers, depending on the variety. It does well in hot and dry spots and resistant to pests.  Their blooms typically last from early summer through early fall and are a wonderful cut flower! 
 


Feather Reed Grass

feather reed grass

Feather Reed Grass

Calamagrostis x acutiflora is an upright clump forming ornamental grass, with multiple varieties, that adds architecture, movement, and the seed heads add floating fluffy textures in the fall through winter.  It does best in moist, rich soil but can handle poor, dry soils as well. This is the perfect grass for urban areas and tough to grow sunny areas. In addition to its high tolerance for multiple conditions, it is pest and disease resistant. Prune down foliage to a couple inches above soil before new growth in the spring and add  organic fertilizer if it’s in poor soil if you want to give it a boost and that’s it!


Phlox

flame coral phlox paniculata

Phlox paniculata Coral Flame.

There are so many varieties of phlox it’s impossible to describe them all but they come in low, medium, and tall growing forms to fit in just about any garden. It’s one of the most versatile and colorful plants that have been used in gardens for over 100 yrs and for good reason. Most are long-blooming, often fragrant, and tall varieties don’t require staking. They prefer moist, rich soil and full sun, but depending on the variety, some don’t mind poor, rocky soils or part-sun. Flower colors range from pure white to red, with nearly every shade of pink, lavender, salmon and purple and some multi-colored petals. With proper planting, you can avoid most disease issues, such as powdery mildew.


Daylily

handwriting on the wall daylily bloom

Handwriting on the Wall Daylily.

Hemerocallis means “beauty for a day”because daylily  buds blooms only one day but has successive blooms over 4-5 weeks. Some daylily varieties are labeled rebloomers since they perform a couple times in the season with successive blooms. The Daylily is considered “a perfect perennial” because it’s drought tolerant, can grow in almost any kind of soil, can grow in full or part-sun, offers an array of early season to late season blooming varieties, has showy vibrant colors, are pest and disease resistant, and attracts birds, bees, and butterflies. Can be grown on hillsides, around the city, or in a traditional garden with very little care needed.


Sedum

Sedum Pure Joy by Proven Winners paired with coneflower

Pure Joy Sedum with coneflowers.

Sedum, also called stonecrop, have thick succulent like leaves that form clusters of small colorful flowers (white,red,pink,or yellow) in late summer and fall that bees love! There are low-growing and tall varieties that love full sun and can handle drought conditions. Once these plants are established they require almost no care. Sedums are easy to split in spring and fall if they get too big for their space. These perennials can grow quickly! Foliage of the fleshy leaves are not only green but there are varieties with varying foliage colors. For example, Sedum Dragon’s Blood Tricolor has white and green foliage with pink edges or deep purple leaves like Sedum Dark Magic. Just make sure these plants have well-draining soil because they can succumb to root rot in prolonged wet soil.


Coneflower

pow wow wild berry echinacea- coneflower

Pow Wow Wild Berry Coneflower.

Echinacea, comonly known as Coneflower are bright, upright, and tough perennials! They can take the heat and drought conditions once established ,deer resistant, and trouble free! Echinacea purpurea is the native coneflower to North America but there are varieties with many different bloom colors. These flowering perennials can have blooms that last from mid-summer though fall! Give coneflowers full sun and avoid other plants shading them. They don’t need much in regards to fertilizer if you mix in plenty of compost into the soil when planting. They attract bees and butterflies and if you leave the flowers on in the fall, birds like to eat the seeds. Prune off dead flowers in summer to promote more blooms for fall.

 


Russian Sage

denim n lace russian sage

Denim N’ Lace Russian Sage. 2020 PW Perennial of the Year.

Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly known as Russian sage is a must have plant to add to your garden! Russian sage has grey-green leaves that are very aromatic with bluish-purple flowers that bloom mid-summer through fall. It can tolerate clay soil, dry soil, street salt, and are deer and rabbit resistant. It’s also disease and pest resistant! It really is a tough plant! They can fill up a 3′-4’x3’x4′ space in your garden quickly. Birds, bees, and hummingbirds will appreciate this valuable addition as well! 


Hyssop

blue fortune hyssop

Blue Fortune Hyssop. Photo Courtesy of Monrovia.

Agastache, or commonly known as Hyssop or Butterfly Mint, have very fragrant foliage and flowers that attract bees and butterflies. The flowers bloom late summer through fall to add color when other perennials are winding down. Most hyssop varieties are native to North America and not only like compost rich soil but also lean, dry soil. They prefer a “tough love” approach so they don’t need much water once established and be sure not to over-fertilize. Only top-dress with compost in spring if you want. Hyssop prefer full sun but can tolerate part sun areas.

 

Download our Drought Tolerant Plants List!

Tiger eyes sumac in the fall

Fall Landscape Shrubs for Autumn Color

Don’t overlook these shrubs that will give you a wonderful show and variety to your garden in the fall! We can help you look ahead into the fall (summer isn’t over yet!) and pick out some plants that have wonderful autumn color.

Here are a just a few examples of shrubs that have pleasant fall colors you can plant now if you want to keep the colors going all the way to snowfall – and some beyond!

Shrubs

Tiger Eyes® Cutleaf Staghorn Sumac

Tiger eyes sumac in the fall

Tiger Eyes Sumac in the summer

This sumac grows about 6′ wide and 6′ tall and the foliage is beautiful all season long! The brilliant chartreuse green foliage is in the summer giving way to the fall when it’s leaves turns orange, yellow, and scarlet color. This plant definitely has an oriental look to it! It’s drought resistant, can take full sun, and is a zone 4 so it will survive the winters here!

Photos: Courtesy of Bailey Nursery

 


Native Glossy Black Chokeberry

Glossy black chokeberryblack fruit on Glossy black chokeberry

fall colors starting glossy black chokeberry

This native deciduous shrub grows about 5′-7′ tall and wide and starts off the spring season with small white flowers! It is adaptable to most soils, wet or dry, and can grow full sun to full shade! *However, more berries will be produced and growth in full sun. The 1/4″ black superberry fruit it produces has 400% more antioxidants then blueberries. Great for pollinators and birds, there is plenty to love about this plant. Autumn colors are orange, red, and purple and their natural fullness make a great informal hedge planted in mass.

Berry photo: Courtesy of Bailey Nursery

 


Orange Rocket Barberry (Really any barberry!)

orange rocket barberryWe wanted to add this shrub because it provides color from spring through fall. The new leaves come out coral orange, turn green, and then a bright red in the fall, always adding warmth and a pop of brightness to your landscape. It grows 4′-5′ tall and 2′-3′ wide and likes full to partial sun. Tolerant of most soils other than slow draining/wet areas. Can take drought conditions once established and great can tolerate road salts and pollution well. Most barberries have wonderful fall color transitions so check out barberry as a great barrier plant in your contemporary or rustic garden.

 

 


Bailey Red Twigged Dogwood

baily red twigged dogwood

bailey red twigged dogwood in the winter

This one we are also focusing further into the fall season and winter. We don’t want to take away from the adorable white berries that adorn the plant in late summer but sometimes it’s what’s within that gives us the real beauty. The dropping of its dramatic red and orange foliage in fall reveal bright red twigs that stand upright against the mostly colorless landscape. They can get fairly big at 9′ tall and 5′ wide. It’s great for mass planting, wetter areas, and its roots work well to create an embankment for erosion control. Plant in full to partial sun and hopefully somewhere you see often in the winter! Really easy care and cutting back old stems in the spring will give you best color on new growth.

Winter photo: Courtesy of Monrovia

 


Spirea

Birchleaf spirea autumn colors

Birch leaf spirea autumn colors

Magic Carpet SpireaSpirea is a spring/summer flowering shrub that works well for your border plantings and provides spring blossoms as well as great fall foliage. Some spirea varieties can also bloom spring and fall. Two Spirea came to mind when thinking of fall color. Magic Carpet Spirea (See image on the right ) that turns a rich russet red in the fall after its summer season mature bright gold foliage or the Tor Birchleaf Spirea that turns gold, red, and purple in the fall. The Tor Birchleaf grows in compacted mounds and is deer resistant, fragrant, and attracts butterflies. The Magic Carpet grows full and bushy, is an early bloomer, and has brightest colors in full sun. Planting them en masse and paired with other perennials would create a more dramatic effect in your landscape. Ask us about which varieties can be pruned after first flowering to try for continued blooming into fall.

Left photo: Courtesy of Behnkes


There are many plants, other than shrubs, that can provide you extended seasonal color and eye appeal in your landscape or garden. The garden is an evolving thing so when you have time to take tabs on when plants are blooming or changing color, why not add more plants for fall interest?

apricot orange colored blooms on the Zonta Minnesota Mum

Perennial Mums that Survive MN Winter

Bright red, pink, yellow, white, purple, golden orange, copper, cream…you will find a large variety of perennial Mum flower colors! Thanks to the University of Minnesota’s Mum breeding program beginning in the 1920’s we now have perennial Mums that survive MN winters!

Here’s a bit of history for you! The cushion habitat mum was the first patent of the U of M in 1977.  “Plants are dome-shaped, with flowers almost completely covering the outside surfaces of each plant. Previous mums bloomed only at the top of long stems (upright habit). Within a decade, the cushion type became the dominant chrysanthemum plant habit worldwide.”- U of M Chrysanthemum breeding program.

There is continued development of a different growth habitat mum like the wave hardy mum since right now most are the cushion or upright habitat. Hopefully we see more of those soon!

These perennial mums survive MN winters but they are known to be finicky. Here are some steps to take care of your perennial Mum so it comes up year-after-year.

Before Winter Care:

  1. Plant your Mums in well-draining soil. If the soil doesn’t drain well and results in standing water that freezes, the ice around the root system can kill a plant.
  2. Find a sheltered location protected from high winds.
  3. “Tests show that Mums survive the winter better when the above-ground dead plant stems are not removed in the fall. This is also a beneficial technique to use with other herbaceous perennials.” -U of M 
  4. Cover your Mums with 4″ of leaves or mulch to give them good insulation AFTER THE GROUND HAS FROZEN and there isn’t extreme fluctuations of temperature.

Spring Time Care:

  1. Take off the mulch over your Mum as soon as the ground starts to thaw.
  2. Snap off or trim off the dead growth. Be careful not to pull out or cut new growth.
  3. This is the time also that you can divide your mum, if you need. The outer new growth is the most vigorous and you may see little stray growths that are perfect for splitting. Dig down and snip off the new growth, leaving as much of new roots on as you can on the cutting and then pot them up in a clean pot and soil in a warm sunny windowsill for a few weeks and be sure to water but not too much. Do the finger test of sticking you finger down into the dirt on the side at least two inches to see if the soil is dry. Then you can plant them into the ground after a few weeks.

Sources:

https://mnhardy.umn.edu/varieties/flowers/chrysanthemums
http://www.hortmag.com/headline/dividing-hardy-mums

Mature blue false indigo in the display gardens at Drummers.

Top 10 Perennials 2019

Back in January of this year, the full-time staff went to the Northern Green Conference up in the Twin Cities for continuing education and to see what is new for this year in landscaping and gardening. One of the more popular sit downs was the Top 10 lists of perennials, shrubs, and trees. Since June is Perennial Gardening Month we thought we’d share the Top 10 Perennials of 2019 decided by Mike Heger. Mike has been in the horticultural industry for over 40 yrs and has even written a book on growing perennials in cold climates.  He of course prefaced the list with saying this was a very difficult list to make and was focusing more on natives and pollinators this year. Check out the quick list of his Top Ten Perennials!

Top Ten Perennials 2019

  1. Baptisia Lactea ‘ White False Indigo ‘. Tough, long-lived plant, and tolerates many different soils and light conditions. Great nectar plant. The Blue False Indigo, Baptista ‘ American Goldfinch ‘, and Baptisia Decadence Series are other Baptisia he mentioned.
  2. Calamintha nepeta ‘ Montrose White ‘ (Catmint). Clump forming mint with long bloom time. Great for bees and hummingbirds love it. Considered a zone 5 but could possibly survive our winters in the right spot.
  3. Clematis ‘ Arabella ‘. A rambling ground cover that can have flowers all summer long. Mike said his bloomed 14 weeks! Bees and Hummingbirds enjoy!
  4. Helianthus ‘ Lemon Queen ‘ (Hybrid Sunflower). Blooms late summer and fall and great for all kinds of pollinators. It’s a great tall, background plant. Blooms 2-2.5 months!
  5. Native Liatris ligulistylis ( Meadow Blazing Star ). It blooms from the top down and monarchs and butterflies love it. Tolerant of many soils and high light. Another good native option is Liatris Pycnostachya.
  6. Nepetax faasenii ‘ Purrsian Blue ‘ Catmint. A low maintenance clumping mint with 4-6 mths of color. The ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ is the shorter version with similar qualities. Will see butterflies, moths, bees, and hummingbirds around it!
  7. Origanum ‘ Rosenkuppel ‘ (Ornamental Oregano). Burgundy blooms June-September and even past September at times. It prefers full sun and no wet feet. It is a zone 5 plant so may not survive winters in southern MN.
  8. Salvia nemorosa ‘ Blue Marvel ‘. This perennial sage has violet-blue blooms and the butterflies and bees flock to it. Other forms of Salvia have white, pinks, and purple blooms and there are plenty of varieties to choose from.
  9. Stachys monieri ‘ Hummelo ‘ Boteny. This is the 2019 Perennial of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association. This perennial tolerates many different soil and full sun to light shade.
  10. Vernonia fasiculata ‘ Common Ironweed’. This native perennial can get up to 6′ tall and is a wonderful nectar plant. Painted lady butterflies love them and are a great plant in the back of the garden due to their height. Their blooms are a bright purple and bloom July, August, and September.