Late Summer and Fall Nectar Plants to Add to Your Garden

When planning a flower garden, make sure you include several of these great nectar plants that bloom their best in autumn when the days get shorter.

The calendar still says summer, but it’s starting to feel more like fall. There are still plenty of butterflies and hummingbirds around, though, so don’t let your garden die back too soon! There are a variety of great nectar plants that bloom their best when the days begin to get shorter. Try adding some of your favorites to your garden this fall. All of these plants are perennials or re-seeding annuals, so they’ll reward your efforts for years to come.

Gulf Fritillary on Ironweed, by Kristen Gilpin

Ironweed

Vernonia spp.

This towering fall wildflower starts blooming in late summer all over the country. There are many different species of ironweed, so seek out those native to your area to find the best fit. Learn more about native plants.

Butterfly on GoldenrodCourtesy Kathy Edinger

Goldenrod

Solidago spp.

Goldenrod gets a bad rap, with people blaming it for seasonal allergies. In truth, very few people are actually allergic to this wildflower. Instead, they’re allergic to ragweed, which starts blooming around the same time. Plant all the goldenrod you want, with no fear of sneezing! Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) is native to much of the country,  but try other varieties native to your area, too. The tall yellow spikes of this plant pair perfectly with the purple blooms of ironweed.

Monarch on Asters Mary Zugelder

Aster

Aster spp.

Fall blooming asters are one of the best nectar plants you can add to your garden. Carolina Aster (Aster carolinianus) is one of my favorites down south, but in other areas you should focus on your own native selections, like New England Aster (sometimes called Michaelmas Daisy) or California Aster.

Fritillaries on Liatris by Jodi Grove

Blazing Star

Liatris spp.

Another tall wildflower boasting stalks of purple, Liatris species are an especially good draw for butterflies as fall continues. The tiny flower heads are perfect for tiny butterflies, but bigger species enjoy them too. There are 37 species of blazing star, so you’re certain to find one or more that will work well in your own garden. Check out purple flowers that attract hummingbirds.

Hummingbird on Salvia elegans by Connie Etter

Pineapple Sage

Salvia elegans
Salvias of all kinds are usually great for butterflies and hummingbirds, but the great thing about Pineapple Sage (aside from its foliage, which does indeed smell like pineapple) is the fact that it starts blooming when other plants are done for the summer. In fact, Pineapple Sage is light sensitive, and will not bloom until days are generally shorter than nights. This may make it too short lived in some northern areas to be worth the trouble, but those in milder climates will find this to be a great addition to the garden. Butterflies also love these flowering shrubs.

Hummingbird on Salvia leucantha by Jill Staake

Mexican Sage

Salvia leucantha
Mexican sage is another fall-bloomer that may be best for warmer climates. The foliage and flowers will be damaged by frost, and a sustained hard freeze will kill this plant entirely. In warmer areas, though, this champ blooms from late summer through to the following spring, and hummingbirds love it.

There are plenty of other fall nectar flowers to add to your garden—which ones are your favorites?

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.