Flowers in Bloom as Summer Wanes

Spring in southern California is the biggest and showiest blooming season for native plants. Poppies, verbenas, and penstemons are strutting their stuff after a cool, rainy winter.

(E. Wallace).

But by late summer, the plants are pulling back, waiting out the long dry season and protecting themselves from the 90 degree days.

How do our pollinators, birds, and butterflies find enough nectar during the long, hot days of summer and early fall when our native plants are hunkering down to make it through?

I took a walk around my garden recently to see which flowers are still in bloom. And what I found surprised me because these blossoms are subtle but still very important to pollinators. One of my favorite long-blooming native plants is Abutilon palmeri shown below:

(E. Wallace)

I also have small trees that are covered in blossoms right now, including the Toyon shown below.

(E. Wallace)

My garden is a cultivated environment of native plants that I water deeply once a month. The extra water helps prolong the blooming season of some of the plants that populate my home landscape.

But what is happening with plants in the wild that get no supplemental irrigation?

I hiked in a local park and explored a wild land interface to discover native plants in bloom now:

(E. Wallace)

My favorite late summer blooming plant is Menzies’ goldenbush (Isocoma menziesii). This plant shines during the hottest months of summer no matter how little water it receives. Yesterday afternoon, I noticed new goldenbush plants sprouting in the hot, dry compacted soil of a wild land interface. The goldenbush’s profusion of blooms is a gift to pollinators.

Next time you go for a hike in the park, take a look around and see what flowers are blooming. Even the tiniest flowers matter to butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees.

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