Alphabet for Pollinators – C is for Clethra, Cosmos and Calendula

  • Post published:03/26/2020
  • Post comments:0 Comments
Sweet pepperbush
Clethra alnifolia, summrsweet or sweet pepperbush

We have seen A and B. Now we are up to C – Clethra alnifolia, commonly called summersweet, is a deciduous shrub that is native to swampy woodlands, wet marshes, stream banks and seashores. Because of my wet garden, this fragrant shrub thrives.  It is about four feet high. It gets lots of sun

The sweetly fragrant white flowers  appear in narrow, upright panicles. It will bloom for a long season in mid to late summer. It attracts birds as well as butterflies.

Cosmos, an annual

The simple cosmos flowers provide easy access to nectar and pollen. They not only attract the familiar bees, cosmos attract other beneficial insects we rarely think about like lacewings, parasitic wasps, tachinid flies and hoverflies that feed on many pest insects.

I like them because they are easy to grow, and bloom late in summer and continue until late in  the fall. How wonderful to be able to put together a bouquet so late in the year.

Like cosmos calendula flowers will attract benefiical insects like lacewings, hoverflies and ladybugs. They also attract the bees and butterflies that are so welcome in our garden.


Calendula comes in various golden shades, sometimes daisy-like and sometimes like these lush calendulas. The flowers provide nectar and pollen that attract  bees and butterflies. The nectar attracts other beneficial insects such as ladybugs, hoverflies, and lacewings.

While calendula attracts pollinators it is is also known to have medicinal powers. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties, and is often used to soothe a long list of skin ailments including—but not limited to—cuts, scrapes, bruises, bee stings, insect bites. It is nice to have a little calendula oil or salve around to sooth a minor cut or insect bite.

When I started to really think about it, I realized had a number of other C flowers in my garden: Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), chrysanthemum, columbine, coneflower (Echinacea), coreopsis, and crocosmia (Montbretia). Columbine blooms in the spring, while the others bloom in the summer, and even into the fall.

How many C flowers do  you have in your garden?

Leave a Reply