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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I just found a new podcast that I’m enjoying, Smarter Every Day, and found that he did a whole series on butterflies. I think you will enjoy it.
Here’s the link for the entire series.
Below is a link to just one of the videos.
There are a number of great classes and tours available in June in the St. Louis area that you may want to try out. Some are free and the most expensive is only $20.00.
June 4, 2015
1 p.m. – Sunset Hills community center, 3939 S. Lindbergh, Sunset Hills, MO 63127
Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs
Betty Struckhoff is giving a presentation on Landscaping with Native Trees and Shrubs at Free and open to the public.
June 6, 2015
at Brightside St. Louis’ Demonstration Garden
Check in at 8:30, then classes held from 9:00 until 12:00 noon
Only $10 for 4 workshops – one every 40 minutes!
Workshop classes offered:
Neighbors Naturescaping (for public spaces)
Native Annuals and Perennials
Gardening for Birds
Dealing with Urban Soils
Gardening for Butterflies
Native Small Trees
Gardening for Pollinators
Care & maintenance for Woody Plants
Naturescaping for Your Home
Pruning Woody Plants
June 20, 2015
St. Louis Native Plant Garden Tour
9:00 am – 3:00 pm
A self-guided tour of 10 residential native plant gardens in central St. Louis County. Various locations in Brentwood, Clayton, Glendale, Kirkwood, Webster Groves and more.
Sun, shade, butterflies, birds, dry sites and wet
Traditional and natural designs
Take pictures and ask questions
Cost: $20 per person.
10 a.m. to noon.
Forest ReLeaf is offering monthly tours of their nursery, CommuniTree Gardens, located in Creve Coeur Park.
Registration is preferred and the tour runs from 10:00-12:00. Please firstname.lastname@example.org or call 314-533-LEAF to register or for more information
June 27-28 (Metro Area)
15th annual Pond-O-Rama, pond and garden tour, open to the public.
You can find more events on the Gateway Gardner website.
Note – the picture is common milkweed grown by Weldon, right behind Ronnie’s Cine. He’s got at least fifty various milkweed plants growing along with a lot of new zinnia plants. It should be spectacular later in the summer.
Tom Terrific will present the “Ten Commandments of Butterfly Gardening” program at the Crestwood Community Center, 9245 Whitecliff Park Ln, Crestwood, MO 63126.
The date is Saturday – May 23rd and the program will begin at 10 A.M.and will last until 11:30 A.M.
The program is free and is geared mainly toward adults, but interested children are welcome. This would be an excellent program for Boy and Girl Scouts interested in setting up a butterfly garden.
Tom will show you how to attract and keep butterflies in your yard, patio or apartment balcony. He will talk about site selection, preparation, host and nectar plants, native plants, sun/shade and lots more.
Tom will also talk about what people can do to help the Monarch butterfly whose population is at historic lows.
After the program you are invited to tour Tom’s butterfly gardens in Crestwood to see the 100 butterfly plant species that he grows.
Tom uses pictures, video and hands-on exhibits to teach participants everything they need to know to create a butterfly paradise.
His website www.ButterflyGardening.org is a good place to checkout ahead of time.
He personally guarantees that you will find the program – Terrific!