Previously, I introduced you to New Jersey Tea as a worthy addition to a hummingbird garden, among other possibilities. Now, here’s a list of several possible growing companions, organized by site conditions.
With two exceptions, both noted, all of the plants mentioned have similar native ranges to the New Jersey Tea. So, you’ll be putting plants together that “belong” together (so long as that’s where you live, too). 😊
Dry Soil and Full Sun
If your site is dry and sunny, here are a few possible companions that do well in the same conditions. Combine all of these and you’ll have something blooming pretty consistently spring through fall.
- Smooth Blue Aster (Symphytrichum laeve)
- Showy Goldenrod * (Solidago speciosa)
- Northern Blazing Star (Liatris scariosa var. nieuwlandii)
- Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
- Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) – will spread via runners
The Northern Blazing Star is native from the east coast inland to the Great Lakes region. Further inland, consider Button Blazing Star (Liatris aspera).
The range map champion in this lineup is the Wild Strawberry. It grows almost everywhere in the continental U.S. and on up into Canada.
You won’t see hummingbirds visiting any of these flowers for nectar. However, you will see scads of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. And you’ll certainly see some wild visitors – various birds, small mammals, and possibly even wood turtles – at your strawberries.
Remember that even with very drought-tolerant plants, regular watering is a must while they’re getting established. Keep an eye on rainfall and supplement as needed.
Below, you can see New Jersey Tea flowering with Smooth Blue Aster (still to bloom) behind and to the left:
Evenly Moist Soil and Full Sun
If your site is sunny with more or less evenly moist soil, any of the above would grow well for you, but you might also consider:
- Rose Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) – one of the monarch butterfly’s favorite host plants!
- Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) – you’ll see hummingbirds visit this one for nectar
- Mountain Mint * (Pycnanthemum virginianum)
- Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)
- Tall Larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum) – you’ll see hummingbirds visit this one for nectar; native range is confined to parts of the northeastern quadrant of the U.S.
- Dwarf Larkspur (Delphinium tricorne) –you’ll see hummingbirds at this one, too, and it has a larger growing range than its tall cousin. Know that you may need to give dwarf larkspur some supplemental water when rainfall is scanty, even after the plant is established.
Medium-Dry Soil and Partial Shade
If you’re planting in a site with partial (up to half the day) shade and medium-dry soil, consider:
- Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
- Downy Wood Mint (Blephilia ciliata) – will spread slowly via its roots
- Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum) – will tolerate some drought, but shows summertime stress in soil that tends to stay dry
- Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum racemosum)
- Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)
- Heart-leaved Aster * (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)
- Showy Goldenrod * (Solidago speciosa)
- Fire Pink (Silene virginica) – you will see hummingbirds visiting this plant for nectar
Your peak bloom times will be spring and/or fall, depending on what you plant.
The downy wood mint and the fire pink are the two that overlap the bloom time of the New Jersey Tea.
I have seen hummingbirds visiting mint-family flowers in my yard. So you might see them stop by your mint patch for nectar. And you’ll certainly see a multitude of pollinators while your downy wood mint is blooming!
You’ll definitely see hummingbirds visit the fire pink, so this is a good one to include if attracting hummingbirds is what you want to concentrate on. It’s a short-lived perennial, but self-seeds in a site it likes.
New Jersey Tea has much to recommend it.
In bloom, it’s an explosion of soft white flowers that catch the light beautifully and attract hordes of small pollinators. Out of bloom, it’s a quiet, well-behaved presence that blends well with its neighbors. It’s a small, naturally well-shaped shrub that can hold its own in tough conditions. Because it’s nitrogen-fixing, it even helps to fertilize the soil it grows in! And should you develop a thirst, you can use it for brewing tea. (Surprise!) 😉
Although I don’t want you to feel limited by them, I hope this post and the previous one give you some ideas to get started with.
Do you see yourself adding New Jersey Tea to your garden?
* Prairie Moon Nursery says that this plant is recommended for home landscaping, but is “potentially aggressive”. (Remember that “potentially aggressive” may actually be an asset if you want something vigorous to out-compete weeds. Just know your purpose and preferences when considering your choices.)