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Pollinator-Friendly Spring Garden Plan

Don't Pull That Dandelion Spring has sprung in many parts of the country, and hungry pollinators are on the wing, looking for food. From the moment, they wake up in the spring to the time that they hibernate or migrate in the fall, pollinators need to eat. And we’re not just talking about honey bees, but also native bees, butterflies, moths, birds and bats, beetles, flies, and the list goes on.

We can save the pollinators during a vulnerable time–early spring. This can be a tough time for pollinators. They need a tremendous amount of pollen and nectar to grow the next generations of pollinators.

Planting early blooming perennials is one of the easiest things for a gardener to do. The reward is in those delicate first early blooms after the rugged and bleak landscape of winter. Bonus – early bloomers are some of the toughest and easiest care plants around since many can handle cold.

See the KEY at the bottom for details on the 'Soil' and 'Moisture' codes.

Bishop's Cap
Bishop's Cap, Mitella diphylla Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom:: Apr
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3-7
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Dry
Color: White
Description: Bishop's Cap (Mitella diphylla) is a woodland species that is found in high quality mesic forests growing on moist, mossy ledges and north-facing slopes. The basal foliage of this plant has long, finely hairy stalks, a cordate shape, and serrated edges (up to 4 inches long).
Blue Cohosh
Blue Cohosh, Caulophyllum thalictroides Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom:: Apr
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Clay, Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Yellow
Description: Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) is a native perennial which grows 1-3 feet tall on strong, upright stems. It is valued not for its flowers but for its lacy, ternately-compound, blue-green foliage and its erect clusters of blue, fruit-like seeds. Leaves appear at mid-stem, emerging a smoky blue in spring and turning bluish-green.
Chokecherry
Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana Height: 12-30 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May, Jun
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 2-7
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: White

Description: Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is a small deciduous tree typically growing to 20-30 feet tall with an irregular, oval-rounded crown. It also may be found in shorter heights as a large shrub. Fragrant, cup-shaped, 5-lobed, white flowers in elongated clusters to 3-6 inches long bloom in mid-spring.
Columbine
Columbine, Aquilegia canadensis Height: 1-3 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Red, Yellow
Description: Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) occurs in rocky woods, slopes, ledges and open areas. Features drooping, bell-like, 1-2", red and yellow flowers (red sepals, yellow-limbed petals, 5 distinctive red spurs and a mass of bushy yellow stamens).
Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Arisaema triphyllum Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 4-9
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Normal, Moist Wet
Color: Green
Description: Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a spring woodland wildflower usually growing 1- 2 feet tall. Flower structure consists of the spadix (Jack) which is an erect spike containing numerous, tiny, green to purple flowers and the sheath-like spathe (pulpit) which encases the lower part of the spadix and then opens to form a hood extending over the top of the spadix.
Lanceleaf Coreopsis
Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Coreopsis lanceolata Height: 1 - 2 feet
Bloom:: May, Jun
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 2-9
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: Yellow
Description: Lanceleaf Coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata) is easily grown in dry to medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Thrives in poor, sandy or rocky soils with good drainage. Tolerant of heat, humidity and drought. Prompt deadheading of spent flower stalks encourages additional bloom and prevents any unwanted self-seeding.
Lupine
Lupine, Lupinus perennis Height: 1 - 2 feet
Bloom:: May, Jun
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Sand
Moisture: Dry
Color: Blue
Description: Lupines (Lupinus perennis) are 1-2½ feet tall and compactly branched. The stems are light green to reddish green, angular or terete, and canescent-hairy. The upper stems terminate in narrow racemes of flowers about 4-10 inches long. The flowering stalks are light green to reddish purple.
Prairie Smoke
Prairie Smoke, Geum triflorum Height: 6-18 inches
Bloom:: Apr
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 2-7
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry
Color: Pink, Purple
Description: Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) is a native prairie plant whose most distinguishing feature is not the reddish pink to purplish, nodding, globular flowers that bloom in late spring, but the fruiting heads which follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate to form upright, feathery gray tails.
Pussy Willow
Pussy Willow, Salix discolor Height: 10-20 feet
Bloom:: March
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Moist, Wet
Color: White
Description: Pussy Willow (Salix discolor) are typically found growing in moist to wet soils in meadows, swamps and along lakes and streams, but also will be found in some drier conditions. It is a large multi-stemmed shrub to 6-15 feet tall, but is less frequently found as a small tree to 30 feet tall.
Shooting Star
Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia Height: 1 - 2 feet
Bloom:: May, June
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: White, Pink, Lavender
Description: Shooting Star (Dodecatheon meadia) is a much beloved wildflower that typically occurs in open woods and glades, rocky wooded slopes, bluff ledges, meadows and prairies. This is one of the most beautiful spring wildflowers in the prairie. A colony of these plants in bloom is a sight not to be missed.
Smooth Penstemon
Smooth Penstemon, Penstemon digitalis Height: 2-3 feet
Bloom:: Jun, Jul
Sun: Full Sun, Par Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: White
Description: Smooth Penstemon (Penstemon digitalis) typically grows 3-5 feet tall and occurs in prairies, fields, wood margins, open woods and along railroad tracks. Features white, two-lipped, tubular flowers borne in panicles atop erect, rigid stems. Flowers bloom mid-spring to early summer.
Sweet Fern
Sweet Fern, Comptonia peregrine Height: 2-5 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May, Jun
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: Green
Description: Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrine) is an upright, deciduous shrub (typically growing 2-4 feet tall) which features simple, narrow, lustrous, pinnatifid, deeply notched, olive to dark green leaves (to 4 inches long). Insignificant, yellowish green flowers appear in spring and give way to greenish brown, burr-like nutlets.
Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica Height: 1 - 2 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May
Sun: Part Shade
Zones: 3-9
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Blue, Lavender
Description: Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are one of the most beautiful species of spring ephemerals are Virginia bluebells. These lovely plants are relatives of other familiar species like Forget-me-not, Lungwort, and Comfrey.
Wild Ginger
Canadian Wild Ginger, Asarum canadense Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom:: Apr, May
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 4-7
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Normal, Moist Wet
Color: Green
Description: Canadian Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense) is a native spring wildflower which occurs in rich woods and wooded slopes throughout the State. Basically a stemless plant which features two downy, heart-shaped to kidney-shaped, handsomely veined, dark green, basal leaves (to 6 inches wide). Cup-shaped, purplish brown flowers appear in spring on short, ground-level stems arising from the crotch between the two basal leaves.
Wild Strawberry
Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana Height: 4-7 inches
Bloom:: Apr, May, Jun
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 3-8
Soil: Loam, Sand
Moisture: Dry
Color: White
Description: Wild Strawberry, (Fragaria virginiana) is a ground-hugging herbaceous perennial that typically grows to 4-7 inches tall but spreads indefinitely by runners which root to form new plants as they sprawl along the ground, often forming large colonies over time.
Yellow Trout Lily
Yellow Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum Height: 6-18 inches
Bloom:: Apr
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 2-9
Soil: Clay, Loam
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: Yellow
Description: Yellow Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) is a spring wildflower that occurs in moist woods, on wooded slopes and bluffs, and along streams. A single, nodding, bell- or lily-shaped yellow flower blooms atop a naked scape sheathed by two glossy, tongue-shaped, tulip-like, basal leaves (to 6 inches long) in early spring.

More Garden Plans

  Bee Garden Plan
  Butterfly Garden Play
  Ruby-Throated Hummingbird Plan
  Songbird Plan

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