Monarchs Rebounding!


The last two years have been terrible for Monarchs here in St. Louis. Luckily this year the Monarchs have rebounded. According to Chip Taylor, Monarchs have increased two to four times. My numbers have been much larger. During July and August, I had two to four Monarchs in the yard daily. When I came back from vacation a week ago, I counted 23 Monarchs in my yard. While the numbers have decreased, I still have quite a few Monarchs in the yard.

There was a possible radar sighting of Monarchs here in St. Louis – I don’t know if it’s true, but I would love to think so. I’ve never heard of this before so it’s exciting.

Below is an interesting audio of the Monarch rebound. Chip Taylor is being interviewed and he indicates we need at least four times as much habitat as they now. 


Filed under Monarch, Monarchs

Seed Ball Experiments

The idea behind a Seed Ball is to make an easy way plant a seed. You surround a seed with clay and other ingredients, let it dry and harden and then you can put it anywhere to dissolve and let the seed germinate.


There seem to be a number of recipes on the Net, so I’m going to experiment and come up with my own recipe.

Most Seedball Recipes contain these three ingredients plus water of course.

Clay-Compost-Seeds – there are many ratios.

5-3-1,  5-1-1, 5-0-1, 1-1-(two or three seeds per balls.)

From my gardening experience, putting a whole lot of seeds in one tiny ball doesn’t make much sense and is wasteful. I’d suggest one to 3 seeds per ball depending on how well the seed will germinate.

[Note - because of my poor germination, I'm going to try ten seeds per ball]

Experiment #1 – (results were terrible)

My first experiment is to just use some potting clay, roll it up and put a seed in side (zinnia). I also found that after the clay dries, you can color it with food dye. These balls can be made quite small. Most of mine are about the size of a nickel.


Experiment #2 – (I like this better, but still got poor germination)

I use 1 part dried clay, 3 parts compost and 1/2 part of water. It’s very sticky and easy to roll into a ball. I got about 50 balls using a 12 ounce cup as one part measure. I then added one or two seeds per ball.  [Note - because of my poor germination, I'm going to try ten seeds per ball] The balls are slightly larger than a quarter. I made the balls first and then added the seeds, pressed the seeds to the middle of the ball and then rolled again. I then set them in the sun to dry. I got five pounds of dried clay from Krueger Pottery, 8153 Big Bend Blvd, St. Louis MO 63119 for $4.34.


Below are my seed balls in trays. I planted five different types of seeds in the balls. I also put some of my seed balls in my garden to see how they will germinate.


Here are the results of the seed ball test below. Not much is happening after two weeks. The balls with compost are doing better, but still not very good. At the two red arrows there are some tiny seedlings emerging from the seed balls.

I’m disappointed with the results, but will try again in the fall with some native seeds that need cold stratification – echinacea, milkweed, etc.

Note – try a different mix in the fall- add more compost and less clay

Try this:
1 part dried clay, 5 parts compost and 1/2 part of water


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Filed under Seeds

2015 Dates and Plants


  • Eagle Scout Project – Curtis – see notes from July 2014
  • St. Joseph’s Academy


Things To Try

  • Try Passiflora in a large pot.
  • Try common milkweed in a pot – no plants available in 2014 Seed available from I bought some and it says that it doesn’t need any cold stratification.


Filed under 2015

Viceroy on Willow



Viceroys usually show up in my garden in mid-August or later and this year they were right on schedule. I grow a dwarf willow as a hedge and it is also a host plant for the Viceroy. I’d encourage everyone to grow some form of willow in their yard just to bring in this lovely butterfly.

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Filed under Uncategorized

Winner – Asclepias Incarnata Soulmate


While I had poor germination with these seeds. probably because they were not cold-stratified, the one which did germinate in March is a winner now at the beginning of August. Most of my regular Asclepias incarnata looks terrible – almost as if it is dying and I don’t know the reason. Most people I know don’t have good luck with this so-called perennial in St. Louis. This particular variety looks spectacular the first year and I’m amazed that it’s blooming this first year. I’ll definitely keep these seeds for planting this fall.

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Filed under Host Plant, Milkweed

Aphids vs Lacewings


My milkweed seems to be a magnet for aphids every year and yet I don’t worry too much since they seem to disappear later in the year. One of the reasons is that these aphids have Lacewings as predators. According to the video below Lacewing larvae can eat 200 to 300 aphids. It’s interesting that the Lacewing eggs are mainly where there are aphids and not on milkweed plants without aphids.

This picture comes from one of my plants, so you can see that these eggs alone could easily eat 2000 aphids.

Lacewings will eat also small caterpillars, but they certainly will have plenty aphids to eat before they find my caterpillars.

On my milkweed, if I find any Monarch eggs I usually put them in a cage to protect them.

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Filed under Predators

July Plant Winners

Below are some of the newer plants which are doing well this year.

Cheyenne – very few seeds germinated, but the ones which made it are spectacular and the bees seem to like them

Black Adder Agastache – nice nectar plant – don’t cut to the ground or it may die out. It also still looks good in September and has many skippers on it. ______________________


Gaillardia – nice looking and healthy plant with lots of blooms______________________

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Filed under Nectar Plant, Perennials