Monarch Migration Starting

There are reports from Minnesota that the Monarch migration is starting and heading our way. Normally September 20th is the date when I see Monarchs in St. Louis. Right now Monarchs are still laying eggs and mating in the St. Louis area.

I’m hoping to have a tagging party so stay tuned for last minute details. Here’s a video taken just two days ago.

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Milkweed Sources


Finding milkweed for the Monarchs can be a daunting task if you limit yourself to your local big-box stores.

Monarch Watch has put together a list of over 250 vendors. You can download the list at this link.

St. Louis Local Suppliers

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2015 Fall Plant Sales

Shaw Nature Reserve
Sept. 11th – 4 to 7:30 p.m.
Whitmire Wildflower Garden

Shop for locally produced native plants, food and crafts. Also, experts will answer your native gardening questions.

Adults $5
Seniors $3
MBG/SNR Members Free


Missouri Wildflowers

Kirkwood Farmers Market – Sept. 5, 12, 19 


Sept. 26 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Native Plant Expo

Schlafly Bottleworks, 7260 Southwest Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63143.

There will be vendors and well as Bring Conservation Home habitat advisers to help people and answer questions.

Thanks to Sue L for this sale!


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Plant List from Monarch Watch

Monarch Watch has a nice plant list (pdf) that has many of the plants which I grow. Be careful however as some of the plants are invasive. Look at my list for notes on most of these plants.

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Neonicotinoids – Hidden Labels


When you go to Home Depot and see these lovely Purple Coneflowers, your first inclination is to buy them and plant them for all the butterflies and bees in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, these plants are filled with Neonicotinoids which are insecticides which would kill any visiting butterflies and bees.


While Home Depot does label these plants, the label is hidden behind the larger identification label. Most people would probably not even see the insecticide label.


I’d like to suggest that you not only don’t buy these type of plants, but that you contact Home Depot and tell them to stop selling these types of plants with insecticides.



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Monarch Tents

If you’re into raising Monarch butterflies, at some point you will need an enclosure that is big enough to hold them when they eclose or come out of their chrysalis.

Below is an option that I just found at Costco. You get two mesh laundry begs for $11.99. They are just the right size to hold several Monarchs before you release them.

If the chrysalis is on a leaf you can attach the leaf to the side of the bag with a safety pin and not damage anything.

Note – there is a small hole at the top and you could cover that with a piece of fabric. The fabric is good for holding Monarchs, but not fine enough to keep out tiny wasps if you are raising caterpillars.

monarch-tent-01 monarch-tent-02 monarch-tent-03

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Brightside St. Louis


I went to a series of workshops done by Brightside St. Louis and was impressed by their staff and what they are accomplishing for the city of St. Louis. Here are a few notes from the seminars.

Free Grants

Brightside offers grants up to $1500.00 for city neighborhood groups who want to improve some public property or schools. Last year Brightside approved thirty-two grants. They have a list of approved plants. Roses have been taken off the list because of the Rose rosette disease. Applications are due by August 14th.
Here’s a picture I took of some roses which have either died or are doing poorly.



Rain Gardening

The program was led by Perry Eckhardt from the Missouri Dept. of Conservation. He said that most rain garden literature is wrong. To find the right plants to put in, he recommends the MoBot Plant Finder.  I did a search and got a long list, but I notice they put Asclepias tuberosa on the list – something that likes dryish soils. They have a nice rain garden area at the Brightside home on Shenandoah and Kingshighway although they had to fill-in part of it with rock because of bridge safety requirements. He recommends not adding sand to the soil. Also don’t dig out an area if you are going to be disturbing tree roots. Trees take up a lot more water than any rain garden.

Note – here’s some more information from Perry – “Many rain gardens have had soil amendments or soil replacements that include a sand component.  Additionally, most rain gardens are actually very dry, especially if they are engineered to drain quickly.  In those instances, almost any prairie plant will work as they can withstand brief periods of inundation. I do think that butterfly milkweed is tolerant of relatively wet conditions too; I noticed them as a prominent part of the plant palette at Grasshopper Hollow Natural Area, which is a fen complex in the Ozarks. Personally, I wouldn’t stick in the boggy parts of a rain garden, but I would definitely consider it around the margins.


Home Depot Pesticide Plants

Ed Spevak mentioned that some plants at Home Depot have a a Neconid pesticide warning, but it is hard to find. It may be behind the main plant tag.

Urban Soils – Nathan Brandt

  • The speaker recommends getting a Lead test for any city soils. It costs $45.00. The example he used had a score of 461 which is a bit high and limits what you can grow in your garden. He recommends a raised twelve inch bed with fabric below it keep out the soil below.
  • A standard soil test, available from Brightside, costs $22.00.
  • Don’t add sand to clay soil – use organic matter and plants to break up the clay.
  • If you soil is really poor, he does recommend amending it with organic matter, tilling etc. After that, use plants and cover crops to improve the soil.
  • Native plants don’t need added fertilizer.

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