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Alphabet for Pollinators – E is for Echinacea

Echinacea or coneflower

Echinacea with butterfly sipping nectar and gathering pollen

Echinacea otherwise known as coneflower is a wonderful perennial. It is a sturdy plant. Echinacea purpurea is ideal for bees because they see those landing strips (petals) and right on to the nectar and pollen. There are many many new Echinacea varieties, but if you want to attract and feed the bees, simpler flowers are more beneficial.

Behind the Echinacea in the photo above you can see a blossom of the Eryngium, sea holly, which looks spiky but it too is a pollinator magnet. It attracts butterflies and bumblebees. Eryngium blooms for more than a month and is a great cut flower.

Epimedium

Epimedium

Epimediums are one of my favorite plants. It is tough and hardy, blooming in early spring. It is no more than a foot high. The sprays of tiny flowers, also called bishop’s hat or fairy wings, look delicate but they are very tough. There are variations in foliage and blossom forms, but I have found all of mine to be very hardy and thriving in the shade for a good part of the day. I am always torn between cutting them back in the spring, or leaving them alone. I think it depends on my mood as much as anything, but it doesn’t seem to matter one way or the other. I don’t think there are many pollinators around when this is in bloom so early in the season, but it is still one of my favorite native plants.

Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium or Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is a great late  summer-autumn plant. Most of us rarely refer to it as Eupatorium – could be Eupatorium maculatum, E. fistulosum (tall ) or E. purpureum(sweet). I am not sure what mine is. It is very tall and very unusual  in that it has variegated foliage. I bought it at a roadside nursery and it was the only Joe Pye Weed there, and I had to have a Joe Pye Weed that very day. It is a beautiful plants and attracts many pollinators.

Do you have any E plants in your pollinator garden?

2 comments to Alphabet for Pollinators – E is for Echinacea

  • I have echinacea and joe pye weed, too. I have a ‘chocolate’ joe pye which has nice purplish edging on the leaves. Really like the look of that sea holly- I’ve never seen that flower before. Must find some for my own garden!

  • Pat

    Jeane – I love the sea holly too, but my garden is too wet and it died. I am thinking about where else to put it.

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