Summer (June, July and August)
With some exceptions (marked with *), the native plants below are suitable for sunny and open locations. Many are strong growers that can survive a variety of adverse growing conditions.
Wild Leek (Allium tricoccum) is a woodland species whose leaves appear in Spring but wither away in early Summer before its flowers emerge from an underground bulb. The flowers are favored by bees because they can produce a good deal of honey. Wild Leek can be used in connection with some of the Spring-flowering plants already mentioned. Both the leaves and bulbs are edible, but care should be taken not to overharvest any one stand.
Milkweeds (Asclepias spp.) are some of the most valuable plants for supporting pollinators as well as for being the sole food source for Monarch Butterfly larvae. All feature colorful flower clusters. Common Milkweed (A. syriaca) is ubiquitous and blooms the earliest, but it should be intentionally planted on private properties because it is regularly eradicated from developed and agricultural land. The orange-flowered Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) favors dry terrain, and Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata) prefers wet locations. All can be grown from seed.
Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) produces tall spikes of nectar-rich blue flowers favored by many insects, especially bumblebees. In addition, it serves as a host plant for caterpillars of the Common Buckeye, Junonia coenia. Blue Vervain prefers sunny moist locations and can grow to four feet or more. Once established, it self-sows freely.
Bergamots or Bee-balms (Monarda spp.) are tall mints, whose tubular flowers are favorites of pollinators like moths, bees and hummingbirds. They also serve as hosts for the larvae of several native moths. The colors of the flowers vary according to species. Monarda didyma, also known as Oswego Tea, features brilliant red blooms; those of the Wild Bergamot (M. fistulosa) are light purple. They do best in moist locations and are easy to grow. Cultivated varieties of the genus show up frequently in gardens as well.
Lobelias (Lobelia spp.) produce both red (L. cardinalis) and blue (L. siphilitica) lipped, tubular flowers arranged on a tall spike. They attract bees and butterflies as well as hummingbirds. Both are easily grown from their dust-like seeds and will self-sow in moist or wet locations. They should have some shade during hot afternoons.
Coneflowers (Rudbeckia spp.) are easily-grown pollinator plants. The familiar Black-eyed Susan (R. hirta) and the much taller Green-headed Coneflower (R. laciniata) are examples of species suitable for the natural garden. The latter has a long blooming period. A related plant, the Eastern Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), is a favorite of pollinators as well.
Touch-Me-Nots (Impatiens spp.) have delicate, hanging tubular flowers that are bee favorites. The Spotted Touch-Me-Not (I. capensis) offers its pollinators a multitude of mottled orange blossoms, while the blooms of the Pale Touch-Me-Not (I. pallida) are light yellow. These leafy, bushy annuals, also known as Jewelweeds, prefer wet or moist locations and are easily grown from collected seeds. They will also self-sow readily.
Wild Cucumbers are fast-growing annual vines that are pollinator-friendly and easily grown from seeds collected in the Fall. The Balsam Apple (Echinocystis lobata) sends up fragrant feathery spikes of white male flowers. The flowers of Bur-Cucumber (Sicyos angulatus) are less showy but are favorites of wasps and hornets. Both vines favor sunny, damp locations and can be grown on fences and hedges or cultivated as leafy screens on porches and decks.