Late-flowering Autumn Plants That Will Help Bees

The table is richly laid for bees and bumblebees in summer, but at the end of the most beautiful season it usually looks rather sparse: In many gardens there is a yawning void of flowers in autumn. Late-flowering shrubs can alleviate the insects’ plight. Compared to perennials and summer flowers, they also offer more flower mass.

Great variety of late-flowering woody plants

Due to the great variety of woody plants, there is no limit to the design in the garden. We have put together a selection of the most beautiful late-flowering specimens that require a sunny or semi-shady location in the garden, which may also be dry and sandy. Those who prefer simple – i.e. unfilled – flowering varieties, as demanded by environmental and beekeeping associations, help bees and other insects. With double flowers, the stamens are regressed or no longer accessible and no longer provide food for bees and other pollinating insects.

Different use of pollen and nectar

Bees and bumblebees use nectar, which is rich in sugar, as their personal “fuel” during the strenuous gathering flight, while they store pollen, which is rich in protein, in their combs mainly for rearing brood. Roses, for example, offer mainly pollen, less nectar – which is why many bumblebees can be seen here.


Late-flowering shrubs for sunny locations


The bee tree

Late-flowering Autumn Plants That Will Help Bees

Beekeepers consider the bee tree (Tetradium daniellii) with its nectar-rich flowering from July to mid-October to be the best late harvest. This is the time when the bees renew their brood for the next year, and they need a lot of food for this. The often multi-stemmed tree already flowers as a young specimen. Later, pretty fruit clusters develop, which are popular with florists and birds alike. Tetradium is fast-growing and can double its flowering each year through normal growth alone.


Henry’s lime

Henry’s lime (Tilia henryana) is an original species that can reach a stately height of eight metres and is well tolerant of pruning. It flowers until September as the best bee pasture with large, strongly fragrant flower umbels. Another feature is the bronze-coloured shoots and the attractive, needle-shaped teeth on the edge of the leaves – this has quickly made the ornamental shrub from central China one of the favourites in garden design.


The Seven Sons of Heaven Shrub

Late-flowering Autumn Plants That Will Help Bees

Some large shrubs are also considered to be rich in flowers and nutrients, and are at the same time beautiful focal points in the design: the Seven Sons of Heaven Shrub (Heptacodium miconioides) was only discovered in 1980 on an expedition in central China, displays exotic foliage and a picturesque growth habit that makes any pruning unnecessary. After the preliminary flowering in June, the main flowering lasts from August to November, always with a fine jasmine fragrance.


The ‘Sungold’ summer lilac cultivar

The summer lilac ‘Sungold’ (Buddleja weyeriana) is also striking, flowering sunny yellow from July until the first frost. This variety is more sparse and frost-sensitive than the usual hybrids of Buddleja davidii in pink and purple. However, it is worthwhile in a design where it complements orange and red tones, or decorates as a contrast to the purple of bearded flower (Caryopteris) or blue rue (Perovskia). In late autumn, the flowers of ‘Sungold’ shine a second time for bees if you cut the shoots after the first flower.

The bush clover

Do you know the bush clover (Lespedeza thunbergii)? It is a beauty for gardeners who have (almost) everything else. Its colourful butterfly flowers shine from the end of August until November. The shrub can either hang elegantly from the tops of walls or be tied to a bamboo pole as an unusual container plant. Then its metre-long shoots with their delicate flower spikes create a firework display for our eyes and a veritable feast for hungry insects.


Late-flowering shrubs in blue: four half-shrubs

Some varieties of Ceanothus and Perovskia bring a completely different colour to the garden. They flower late in the year in different shades of blue. However, these pretty and ornamental shrubs are somewhat sensitive to frost, so it makes sense to seek appropriate advice when buying them.

The bearded flower (Caryopteris clandonensis) is also beautiful and there are several blue-flowered varieties that grow 60 to 100 cm high. They are excellent bee pastures and are also suitable for large containers.

The ancient medicinal plant monk’s pepper (Vitex agnus-castus) is also a bee magnet. Its light purple flowers are just as ornamental as the foliage. Winter protection is advisable!

Refreshing and very harmonious is, for example, a large tub planted with the bearded flower ‘Heavenly Blue’ as a blue food treasure for insects, combined with a pink-flowering rose such as ‘The Fairy’ and the African lamp grass ‘Rubrum’.
Late-flowering shrubs for partial shade


Ivy: An old classic

It is far too little known that our native ivy is a valuable late bloomer for bees and bumblebees. Its small, yellow-green flowers are not very noticeable, but offer all the more impressive amounts of nectar and pollen until mid-October. If you don’t have any old plants on veteran trees or house fronts, plant Hedera helix ‘Arborescens’ as a robust, evergreen shrub that covers the ground, does not climb and flowers when young. An ivy feels at home in the sun and shade.

Finger shrub

Finger shrubs (Dasiphora) are also late bloomers that bring variety and colour to the garden and give pleasure to people and animals with their abundance of flowers. There is a wide range of varieties and the plants vary in height and flower colour. The small shrubs are undemanding, grow densely bushy and flower for an exceptionally long time.

Thus, the mostly yellow-flowering foxgloves bring refreshing light reflections into the garden even late in the gardening year. The spectrum of flower colours includes a wide variety of yellows as well as beautiful red-orange, pink and pure white. Bright white is offered, for example, by the foxglove ‘Abbotswood’ (Potentilla fruticosa) in sunny locations. Old specimens produce many flowers until October.

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