Our pollinator friends need shelter throughout the winter, just like we do! Native pollinators in our area spend the cold months tucked into dried perennial stems, buried beneath the soil, or sheltered in a layer of dried leaves. So this year, consider leaving this important protective layer in place when temperatures drop in the autumn.
If you don’t love the look of last year’s perennials in the garden, a good place to get started is to leave just a few plants standing that will remain fairly upright and tidy through the wind and snow of winter. Bonus — besides providing bees, butterflies and birds with shelter, these plants will also break up the landscape and give you something to admire during the winter months.
Here are just a few perennials and shrubs that keep their shape and look beautiful even on the coldest days:
Moss phlox ‘Emerald Blue’ (Phlox subulata ‘Emerald Blue’)
This beautiful low-growing moss phlox is evergreen in our area, providing the perfect ground cover year-round. Come spring, this plant bursts into bloom with a vivid carpet of blue blossoms that attract butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, and bees. A hardy native plant, moss phlox thrives in poor, dry, or rocky soil, making this a great plant to add to stabilize a retaining wall or along a driveway or sidewalk.
Redosier dogwood ‘Arctic Fire’ (Cornus sericia ‘Arctic Fire’)
Get ready for vivid color! In addition to attracting birds and butterflies with their flowers and fruit, this shrub steals the show in the winter garden. Its vivid red stems light up gray winter days, especially when silhouetted against a backdrop of new snow. A hardy native plant, redosier dogwood tolerates deer, clay soil, and erosion.
Redosier dogwood ‘Arctic Fire’ (Cornus sericea ‘Arctic Fire’)
Hybrid Stonecrop ‘Autumn Joy’ (Sedum x ‘Autumn Joy)
Talk about versatility! This beautiful perennial thrives in many garden settings and can tolerate drought and poor, rocky soil without missing a beat. Hybrid stonecrop ‘Autumn Joy’ blooms in late summer, and the flower persists on the plant into the winter, beginning as a pale pink and slowly shading to deep mahogany. The sturdy, upright stems keep this plant tidy and compact through the winter months, offering shelter to birds and pollinators alike. Bonus — these plants thrive in containers, so if you want to create a pollinator garden on a patio or deck, this is a great plant to consider!
With these few simple steps – and with the right plants – your garden can be a haven for people and pollinators alike.