Swamp Milkweed Importance

It’s April 21st and in St. Louis we have just been visited by our first Monarch butterfly. This was a female looking for milkweed to lay eggs on.

What is interesting to note is that just six days ago, we had frost yet the cooler temperatures have not hurt the monarchs or the milkweed.

Unless you have started milkweed from seed, most people won’t have any milkweed to provide the visiting monarchs.

Swamp Milkweed is one of my favorites in spring as it has a lovely form and beautiful flowers.

The problem we have is that it only lasts three or so years before it dies off. The problem is probably the hot dry summers we have, which is not conducive to any plant with swamp in it’s name.

To avoid having to buy new plants every year, make sure you collect the seeds when they ripen on the stem, put them in a paper bag and then plant them in late fall where you want them to grow. Next year you will be rewarded with lots of new plants free of any cost. You can also buy seeds online and plant them outside in the fall.

Another trick I have learned is that your can dig up plants early in the spring and divide them. This way you may end up with six plants instead of one.

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Playgrounds and Gardens

Yes – this is a garden.

If anyone suggested putting in a garden in a baseball field, people would think you were nuts. We just had a similar situation where 1700 plants were put in a playground last year and a year later they are almost all dead and gone.

Kids running around in a limited area, playing soccer, tag, etc. are going to run right through the gardens and trample all the plants. That’s what happened in this one school garden. Do the math on buying 1700 plants and the effort involved in planting and you realize how much was wasted on that one garden.

One solution in a limited playground area is to put out a few large pots which are out of the way and can stand up to soccer balls. Large pots do need more frequent watering than plants in the soil.

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Mycorrhizae Fungi

I just had a conversation with Scott Woodbury from the Shaw Nature Reserve about their use of Mycorrhizae in the production of their plants.

They initially use a potting mix which is 50% mix from St. Louis Composting plus 50% BX-ProMix. BX already has some Mycorrhizae in their mix.

When they transplant the seedlings to their own pots, they add Mycorrhizae. The brand they use is http://mycobloom.com/

He has had good results with this brand. Scott wrote am interesting article about Mycorrhizae in the Kansas City Gardener.

While the initial price of this product – $20 for two pounds, seems a bit high, when you consider that many plants cost $10 or more, then if you could save just a few plants using Mycorrhizae, then the price would be justified.

Scott did mention that they had not done field tests, but that they great results in the greenhouse.

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2019 – Dates – Notes – Plants – ToDo


  • Feb. – Seed starting with Pegs at Kennerly Elem.
  • March 18 – Prince of Peace Lutheran – Butterfly Gardening
  • April 6th pickup plants for Whitecliff
  • April 8th noon – cleanup Concord Elementary
  • April 13 – The Biome School – check garden for plants
  • April 17 – meet at Uthoff Valley Elem to checkout garden beds
  • Plant at Concord Elementary
  • Kennerly School – Plant Butterfly Garden
  • Uthoff Elementary – plant in mid-may – milkweed, lantana, bst plants and kale.

Plants for other People

  • Trisha and Ellen
  • Teddy

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Seed Starting Tips

Most of the seeds I grow need about a soil temperature of 70 degrees. That’s what Shaw Nature Reserve uses and what has worked well for me in the past.

Note – I used a Laser Infrared Thermometer to get the soil temperature.

In the past I have used heating mats to achieve this temperature, but I noticed a difference this year since I have started using different lights.

I now use and recommend, Lithonia Lighting, 4-Light Grey Fluorescent Heavy-Duty Shop Light. They use T8 bulbs. I now uses these bulbs close to the seed trays with a plastic cover.

As you can see from the picture, there isn’t much difference between trays with or without bottom heat. In fact the bottom heat tray seems to have poorer germination. I did notice that the bottom heat trays got up to 97 degrees while the trays with just the 4 bulb lights got up to 77 degrees. I eventually turned off the bottom heat since it seemed to be to high.

I probably won’t use my heating mats in the future since my new lights put out enough heat to get seeds to germinate.

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Plant Sales – 2019

I’d be glad to list other plants sales, just email tom@tomterrific.com

MoWildflowers.net – April and May

April 6, 13, 20, 27 May 4
Kirkwood Farmers Market
150 East Argonne Kirkwood MO 63122
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Pre-paid orders can be picked up Friday 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

April 6 & 7 Missouri Botanical Garden
4344 Shaw Blvd St Louis MO 63110
Meet Me Outdoors in St Louis 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.www.missouribotanicalgarden.org

May 11 Shaw Nature Reserve I-44 & Hwy 100 Gray Summit MO 63039
Shaw Wildflower Market 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.Members preview sale Friday, May 10, 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

MPF – April 6th

MPF will hold a native plant sale on Saturday, April 6 at the World Bird Sanctuary, 125 Bald Eagle Ridge Rd, Valley Park, MO 63088 from 10:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m

Meramec Comm. College

April 26 – 9 to 4
April 27 – 9 to 2

11333 Big Bend Rd, Kirkwood, MO 63122-5720
They have a great assortment of plants at reasonable prices.

U City in Bloom

Plant Sale starts Friday April 26, 5 – 7 PM with Opening Night Party and Sale.
Continues Saturday April 27, 9 am – 1 pm.
Sunday 11 am – 1 pm.

South County Tech Plant Sale

Greenhouse Plant Sale is: Sat, May 4th: 9-3 and Sun, May 5th: 10-2

In the greenhouses behind
South Technical High School
12721 West Watson Road

Shaw Nature Preserve – May 10/11

Member Preview – May 10, 2019 Time: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
May 11, 2019 Time: 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

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Local St. Louis Butterflies

One of the important thing to know before you start buying plants is which butterflies are in your area. Luckily the St. Louis Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association has created a list of all the butterflies in the St. Louis area.

I have highlighted the common ones I find in my garden in the Crestwood area.

Thanks to NABA – the St. Louis Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association for allowing us to use this list.

Note – right click – open image in new tab – to see this best.

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