• Waterwise Gardening | David Salman

August Planting for Pollinators in New Mexico


photos left to right, Agastache 'Ava, Lavender and Salvia pachyphylla


The perennials we’re offering for sale this August will be in bud and bloom, to provide immediate natural nectar to feed pollinators and bring the joy of colorful flowers to our gardens when we plant them. And the monsoon rains are creating an ideal environment for August planting at a time when pollinators are stressed by dry conditions this spring. After all, pollinators are the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem. Without the pollination of plants, there will be no seeds, no fruits, no vegetables and no vegetation that are the foundation of a healthy, resilient food chain that feeds all the creatures living there. And this includes humans.


Spring is always an abundant time for flowers and pollinators (native bees, bumblebees, honeybees, hummingbirds, bats, butterflies and many other insects). Most of our fruiting and flowering trees and shrubs bloom then, as well as many commonly grown perennial plants. But pollinators need nectar throughout the growing season. Breakfast (spring bloomers) needs to be followed by lunch (summer bloomers) and dinner (fall bloomers). And dinner plants (late summer and fall bloomers) are especially important as bee pollinators need to store food in advance of the cold months of the year. These same plants are essential sources of nectar for migrating hummingbirds and butterflies.


Here in NM, our many statewide ecosystems are dependent on the summer monsoons to provide a big portion of the year’s annual precipitation. These summer rains bring on a profusion of summer and fall-blooming wildflowers that native pollinators depend on for nectar. So gardeners can have a hugely beneficial role in supplementing pollinators in our urban and suburban areas by planting more summer and fall-blooming plants.


- Natives perennials like Agastache (hummingbird mint), Salvia (sage), Zauschneria (fire chalice or hummingbird trumpet), Aster (aster), Scrophularia (red birds in a tree), Helianthus (perennial sunflower) and Echinacea (coneflower) are all excellent choices for the Santa Fe area.


- Old World species* like Nepeta (catmint), Perovskia (Russian Sage), Caryopteris (blue mist spirea) and Buddleia (butterfly bush) are essential nectar sources favored by honeybees (also an Old World insect). The monsoons provide excellent planting conditions to get the plants established before winter.


Right now, we are watching a huge Climate Disruption crisis, as the recent “heat domes” forming and reforming over the far West are bringing on all-time record hot temperatures and record low reservoir levels. The ecosystems of the West are interconnected, so we need to take positive action by planting for pollinators here in NM. The perennials we’re offering for sale this August will be in bud and bloom, to provide immediate natural nectar to feed pollinators and bring the joy of colorful flowers to our gardens when we plant them.


*(brought to North America from Europe, Asia and Southern Africa)



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