Pollinator plants for sale at Master Gardener Plant Sale on Saturday
Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 4, 2023
By Amy-Lynn Albertson
N.C. Cooperative Extension
This year, the Rowan County Master Gardeners have been focused on educating the public about pollinators and creating pollinator habitats. Last week, Dr. Danesha Seth-Carley from N.C. State University spoke about how to take your pollinator garden from “how to wow.” Many plants she spoke of are available at the annual Rowan Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Sale on Saturday, May 6, from 8:30 a.m.-noon. One of the hardest-working plants you can put in your garden for pollinators is the mountain mint or Pycanthemum spp. Note this plant is in the mint family, so as Danesha says, it’s a bossy plant. Make sure you give it space. Bees and other pollinators love this plant. You can hear it hum in the summer.
Echinacea, or coneflower, is a pollinator and bird lover’s best friend. It is drought tolerant once established and can grow in full sun to partial shade. It is also deer, heat, humidity and salt resistant. Easily propagated by seed, it will reseed itself in the garden. Echinacea is a popular and long-blooming plant used as a border or in groupings in native or pollinator gardens, meadows and naturalized areas. The great thing about coneflower is once it has finished blooming, the seeds it produces attract finches and other birds.
Gaillardia pulchella, or Indian blanket flower, was given its common name by early settlers since the blooms reminded them of the colorful blankets woven by the Native Americans. These flowers are daisy-shaped, with red or maroon petals. Indian blanket flower is one of our toughest native flowers. It thrives on the coast in the hottest conditions and tolerates poor soils. This plant is an excellent choice for coastal properties, meadows, and xeriscaping, as well as butterfly gardens, containers or flower beds. Indian blanket flowers will continue to flower until the first frost and will readily self-seed.
Sunflower is our best-known and most beloved garden plant. The sunflower is one of my all-time favorite flowers. The Master Gardeners have swamp sunflower for sale this year. Swamp sunflower is a native perennial member of the aster family and can be found from New York to Florida to Texas. It is a large perennial that can grow up to 8 feet tall with showy yellow daisy-like flowers from mid to late summer into fall.
Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia sp. is another well-known native flower in gardens and on roadsides. It often acts as an annual but can surprise the gardener by performing as a short-lived perennial or biennial, forming a rosette of leaves the first year and blooming the second year. The flowers are bright yellow with dark brown centers.
The black-eyed Susan leaves and stems are covered with short, stiff hairs, which makes them less tasty to deer. This plant is drought tolerant once established and is tolerant of most soils. The seeds can be sown directly in the fall or spring. Rudbeckia readily self-seed and naturalized in the garden, providing beauty for years.
All these plants and more will be available at the Rowan County Master Gardener Plant Sale. The sale is at the Rowan County Extension Center, 2727 Old Concord Road. Cash or check only, so come prepared. If you have questions about the plant sale, please call the Extension Center at 704-216-8970.
Amy-Lynn Albertson is executive director of the Rowan County Extension.