Michaelmas Daisy (Aster)
This late flowering perennial is of great benefit to butterflies, bees and hoverflies in the late autumn – flowering at a time of year when many other sources of nectar have come to an end. In addition to being a good source of nectar for pollinating insects, the seeds offer winter food for birds, too. This means I’ll be leaving their seed-heads in situ over the winter and wont be “tidying them up” until late spring when the birds should have had a chance to eat most of them.
Whilst there are many garden varieties of Michaelmas Daisy which can benefit wildlife there are also some varieties which are less attractive to wildlife – mainly due to the lack of nectar in some of the overbred hybrids. With this is mind, I was careful to visit my local garden nursery on a sunny day and study the amount of “insect activity” on the various Michaelmas Daisy’s for sale. Needless to say, I chose the one which had a steady flow of visiting bees and hoverflies and which now has pride of place on my balcony!