Late summer and early autumn is go time for pollinators: give them a big boost with 'Iron Butterfly' vernonia (ver-NO-nee-uh). Also known as ironweed, this native perennial looks a bit like a New England aster at first glance, but each flower is an exuberant little puff of pink. The foliage is narrow, with a slightly spiky, willow-like look, and is more disease resistant than most asters, too. Butterflies love this plant, and thanks to its August-September bloom time, sustains them in that crucial period before they wind down for the season.
Plant size: 24"-36" tall and wide
Light: full sun (6+ hrs/day)
Hardiness: USDA zone 4-9 (Find your hardiness zone)
Pollinator value: attracts butterflies, especially swallowtails, monarchs, and painted ladies, as well as other pollinating insects
Notable features: native, compact, deer resistant, long-blooming, drought tolerant
Pot size: one quart
Plant name: Vernonia lettermannii 'Iron Butterfly'