Olbrich Home Bolz Conservatory 30th Anniversary Campaign

Monarch Butterfly on Aster flower

2021 Autumn Pollinator Plant Sale

Sale Opens Monday, August 9 - Online Only

Sale Closes Thursday, September 2

As summer slides into autumn our gaze shifts from the colorful summer blooms to the fall foliage. It is a time of year when the bees and butterflies are busily filling up their tanks as they prepare to hibernate or migrate south. So autumn is also a season to foster late blooming flowers that keep the nectar flowing for pollinators.

Fall blooms, like asters, provide pollinators with a better chance at surviving and thriving into the next growing season. As ecologist Doug Tallamy describes, "Asters help fill an important niche for nectarivores such as bees and late-season butterflies because they provide nectar and pollen after most other plants have started to senesce. Indeed, asters are often the only food plants available for monarchs that have gotten a late start on their migration to Mexico. Their foliage is critical to the development of beautiful butterflies such as the pearl crescent and beautiful caterpillars such as the Asteroid moth and striped garden caterpillar. In fact, 109 species of caterpillars have been recorded using asters where I live." Wisconsin is home to a number of aster specialists including mining bees (Andrena asteris, A. simplex, A. nubecula, A. placate), cellophane bees (Colletes americanus) and the leafcutter bees (Megachile inimical).

The perennial hibiscus is another nectar source, especially for long-tongued bees (like the specialist Rose Mallow bee) and hummingbirds. And hibiscus can be the host plant for the caterpillars of the io moth, bird-dropping moth, painted lady butterflies and assorted skippers.

Grow habitat and provide fall blooming nectar flowers so that pollinators have the food sources they need to survive and thrive! And consider joining the Homegrown National Park movement by adding your garden to the map.


io moth caterpillar


curbside plant pick-up

Thursday, September 2

Noon - 6 p.m.

  • All customers will pick up their pollinator plants on Thursday, Sept. 2 from noon - 6 p.m.
    • This is a software feature we unfortunately cannot disable.

Pick-up Procedures

  • Check out the sale area/pick-up route map before arriving at the Gardens to guarantee a smooth experience.
  • Prepare your vehicle - clear out your trunk or back seat and lay down tarps or plastic if necessary.
    • Heavy, consistent rain on the pick up date may prevent us from providing boxes - prepare your vehicle to receive wet unboxed plants.
  • Masks are optional while you pick up your plants.
  • Drive towards Olbrich's back parking lot area, join the plant pick-up car line queue, and wait for the next available volunteer plant loader.
  • Give the volunteer your first and last name, they will gather your order, and load it into your vehicle.


If you have questions regarding online ordering, assigned pick-ups times or problems with an order post pick-up, contact Program Specialist Mike Gibson.



Plant pricing, pot sizes, and in-depth plant profiles available on the sale site.

  • White Heath Aster, Symphyotrichum ericoides 'Snow Flurry'
    • Central and eastern North American native cultivar, perfect for rock gardens but adaptable to richer soils and less light
    • Cascading daisy like flowers
    • Suitable spiller plant for container gardens
  • New England Aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Grape Crush'
    • Central and eastern North American native cultivar
    • Rich deep-purple blooms from top to bottom
    • Easy to grow
  • Aromatic Aster, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'October Skies'
    • Central and eastern North American native cultivar, a plant right at home on Wisconsin prairies
    • Excellent groundcover
    • One of the last asters in bloom, providing a critical food source for pollinators




  • Rose Mallow, Hibiscus x moscheutos 'Starry Starry Night'
    • Giant flowers attractive to long-tongued bees and hummingbirds
    • Host plant for a variety of butterfly and moth caterpillars
    • Prefers moist soil
  • Whorled Milkweed, Asclepias verticillata
    • Wisconsin native!
    • Monarch butterfly host plant
    • A "handsome and tough" late blooming milkweed
  • Turtlehead, Chelone obliqua Tiny Tortuga™ 'Armitpp02'
    • Southeast native cultivar
    • Bright pink flowers atop dark green foliage

    • Nectar source for bumblebees


Other Nectar Plants


This annual plant sale supports the mission and daily operations of Olbrich Botanical Gardens.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is operated as a public-private partnership between the City of Madison Parks Division and the Olbrich Botanical Society.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens | 3330 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI 53704. | Phone: (608)246-4550 | Fax: (608)246-4719