Monarch Population Down 22%

Journey North released a report saying that the Monarch population was down 22% in the Mexico reserve.

You can help the Monarchs by planting milkweed in your yard. has this available right now for $3.15 each.
They deliver at the Kirkwood Farmers Market in April.

Greenscape and Sugar Creek are good resources in St. Louis.

My favorite species is Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed.
It usually grows for around three years of so depending on your soil conditions.
Early migrating Monarchs may find the new growth in mid-April.

Save the seeds and plant them in the fall.

Comments Off on Monarch Population Down 22%

Filed under Monarchs

Verbena Bonariensis – Cold Stratification

While Verbena bonareinsis is a South American flower, it still needs cold stratification to germinate.

I can’t count on just throwing down seed in the fall or just planting seed in the spring, so I’ve done some testing with cold stratification.

I’ve tested a number of refrigerator and freezer methods and the one which has done the best is….

Seed plus moistened vermiculite in a large plastic bag.
I kept it in the refrigerator for 5 weeks.
I prefer using vermiculite since it mixes with the seed and comes out of the bag easily.
I then cover the seed with a bit more vermiculite.
After about ten days, below is what came up.

Comments Off on Verbena Bonariensis – Cold Stratification

Filed under Nectar Plant

School Gardens 101

I found this video which might be beneficial for new school gardens. Enjoy!

Comments Off on School Gardens 101

Filed under Schools

Vacation Seed Starting

Since I had a ten day Florida vacation planned, I thought I’d try and germinate my seeds while I was gone.

March 11, 2020

The trick is to keep the seeds moist and warm during that time and make sure they don’t dry out. I not only watered the seed bed well, but I also covered it with a plastic well-fitting top. I put the shop lights right above the plastic lid. I then left on vacation and after ten days, this is what I came home to. I use ProMix as my seed medium and cover the seeds with vermiculite. I do have a tiny bit of fertilizer in my ProMix.

March 21, 2020
March 21, 2020

I came home to hundreds of seedlings and look forward to transplanting them into other containers.

I’ll probably wait two weeks before I use a pencil to transplant them to individual cells.

Comments Off on Vacation Seed Starting

Filed under Seeds

Shade Gardening

Notes from Scott Woodbury’s presentation.

Scott prefers leaf litter rather than mulch.
You may want to mulch public/presentation areas, but leave leaf litter in the back areas
Leaf litter provides habitat for insects during the winter.

Bush honey suckle is an invasive which you can take out in the fall.
Pull or cut it out and use herbicide on the stump.
Note – I typically pull 20 small honeysuckle and wintercreeper plants every time I weed at Whitecliff Gardens.

He puts in about 40 plants per square yard with 26 species.
Note – in a traditionally planned garden, you would probably have a mass of one species in a square yard and have mulch cover the entire area.

Whitecliff Gardens
Typical “Professional” Landscaping – San Francisco.

He plants plugs and uses a dibble bar.
Note – I have never been able to buy plugs, but I do buy small plants and use a an auger drill bit.

Fire Pink – most people have trouble growing this…….that has been my experience.
It might need more acidity.

Dry Shade – Round Leaf Groundsel, Erigeron – Robyns Plantain, wild columbine, Heuchera americana, parviflora,

Deer – tend to avoid sedges, switch grass –
Link for Shaw PDF.

Maple trees – are hard to grow underneath them.

Here’s a good list of shade loving plants from Grow Native.

Grow Native Shade Garden Plan

Shade Garden #2

Comments Off on Shade Gardening

Filed under Plants

Butterfly Gardening Class

Note – the first two sources are a bit dated, but will give you the basics.

Start by reading my free Butterfly Gardening Book.

2nd – Watch my Butterfly Gardening Youtube video.

3. Start thinking about a location.
Think small, sunshine and water.

I’ve got a shop light I’m giving away for seed starting.
If you’re interested email

If you are interested in starting your own seeds inside, here is my latest light recommendation.

Potting Mix Recommendation
The “Pros” use Pro-Mix – it’s on sale right now at Menards.
You will also need to add slow release fertilizer – I use Osmocote Plus.
According to one video, the Myco will last up to two years.

Seeds – I usually start planting around May 1st in St. Louis so I start my seeds inside around March 1st.
You can buy inexpensive seeds at …..

Comments Off on Butterfly Gardening Class

Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Free

Lavender in Missouri

I have tried to grow lavender numerous times over the years with poor results.
The problem is that I top-dress with compost every couple of years to create rich soil and I water when necessary with a sprinkler. Most of my butterfly plants thrive under these conditions, but not lavender.

Veronica – a good lavender substitute

Veronica and perennial salvia are great substitutes that will have two bloom periods if you cut them back in July.

If you still want to try and grow lavender, here are some notes from the Mo. Extension Service.

  • Control the amount of water going to the plants. Keep it on the dry side.
  • Use raised beds ….at least 12 inches.
  • Try different cultivars.
  • Plan on losses – 20% to 25%
  • Plants do well in hot and dry weather.
  • They use weed cloth to reduce weeding.
  • They also have training available during the year.
  • There is a good section in the video below on propagation.

Comments Off on Lavender in Missouri

Filed under Plant Propagation, Plants

Free Butterfly Gardening Program

Click Here to Register – Oct. 8th.- 10 am – Powder Valley

Comments Off on Free Butterfly Gardening Program

Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Free

Dragonflies – Another Migration

Chuck Evans Mcevan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – Common Green Darner

About a week ago, I noticed about 20 dragonflies hovering in my backyard and wondered where they had come from. It turns out that some dragonflies migrate between the Southern states and Canada.

Yvonne, a local expert said, “Almost certainly those Common Green Darners were migrating. Others that migrate are Variegated Meadowhawk, Black Saddlebags (they also breed here), Wandering Glider, and Spot-winged Glider. Maybe more. I’ve noticed an uptick in the #of CGD at ponds. Also Wandering Glider. Whenever you see that many at one time, it’s a migrating flock. “

According to a Washington Post article, there are three generations of dragonflies. One flying north, one flying south and one staying in the south for winter.

It appears they have moved on since their first visit, but if they come to visit your garden enjoy them in your yard.

Comments Off on Dragonflies – Another Migration

Filed under Misc

When Monarchs Aren’t Around

Cloudless Sulphur

While the Monarch population is currently non-existent in my garden and many others in the St. Louis area, there’s a good replacement in early August – The Cloudless Sulphur.

This lemon colored butterfly is slightly smaller than a Monarch, but it’s still striking in the garden.

The trick to getting these in your garden is to have Partridge Pea growing in the garden. It’s a magnet not only for bumble bees, but it’s also the host plant for the Cloudless Sulphur. Once you get these plants started in your garden, you never have to buy them again. They are an annual which will gladly freely reseed itself and provide you with plenty of plants the next year. You can also save the seeds and plant the seeds in the fall anywhere you want them to grow next year.

I like them to grow as a second flowering annual. Usually I have bulbs, milkweed and coreopsis flowering in spring and then Partridge Pea comes on strong in August.

The eggs are tiny, white and football shaped.

What I’ve found is that the butterflies even like petunias for nectar.

Lobeila cardinalis and red salvia are also favorites of theirs.

Lobelias cardinalis

Comments Off on When Monarchs Aren’t Around

Filed under Butterfly, Butterfly Gardening, Host Plant