This time of year, mid-October, is a good time to look for caterpillars and chrysalises and bring them into a protected area.
The problem with just letting them stay on plants is that they may not develop properly with the colder temperatures. Also, if they do make it to the chrysalis stage, they are so well camouflaged, that they are almost impossible to find in the spring when you are cleaning up the garden waste.
Monarchs need to fly to Mexico, so as soon as they form the chrysalis, try and keep them in a warmer area so they can develop into the butterfly stage. When it gets over 50 degrees, you can release them outside.
Black Swallowtails over-winter in the chrysalis stage. I like to keep the chrysalises in the garage which is not heated. They will usually emerge in April. If you do find a chrysalis in a outside area that you won’t be messing with, leave it alone.
Giant Swallowtails also over-winter in the chrysalis stage, so if you have them keep them in a cold area over the winter.
I like to raise caterpillars in a fish tank covered with a metal mesh screen. I put paper towels on the bottom. The caterpillars climb to the top and hang from the mesh. I prefer this method since it is easy to sanitize the fish tank with a bleach solution.
Another method is to use a laundry hamper with paper towels on the bottom.
Collecting seeds in the fall is the easy way to start hundreds of plants for no cost. If you figure that many plants can cost $10.00, you could save hundreds and thousands of dollars by collecting and planting your own seed.
I’m opening up my gardens to anyone who wants to collect seed.
Oct. 6th – Saturday – 10 a.m.
9016 Robyn Rd – 63126
Bring: paper lunch bags, black marker, pruning shears or scissors.
Here are seeds available in my yard at this time of the year.
- Blazing Star – fall
- Bronze Fennel – fall/spring
- Cleome – Spider Flower – fall/spring
- Echinacea – purple cone flower – fall
- Gomphrena – spring
- Helenium – fall/spring
- Ironweed – fall
- Lantana – spring
- Marigold – spring
- Milkweed – asclepias incarnata – fall
- Partridge Pea – fall
- Rudbeckia – black eyed susan – fall
- Rue – fall/spring
- Salvia purple – perennial – fall
- Salvia – red – annual – fall/spring
- Skullcap – fall
- Verbena bonareinsis – spring
- Verbena hastata – fall
- Veronica – veronica – fall
If you haven’t already, now is a good time to take some cuttings from your plants to root over the winter months.
I’m going to do a few experiments and try different rooting mediums. My current teacher for Horticulture 101 doesn’t say which type is better, but says that he has good luck with Meramec river gravel – it’s cheap, has the right texture and does a good job.
That’s what we are using in class. I bought the same type of sand at Home Depot – they call it Quickrete Premium Play Sand. It’s a coarse sand – not like what you might find at a beach.
Make sure you take a look at my posting on the14 steps I take to make cuttings. It’s actually fairly easy.
Here are the different mediums I am using for cuttings.
- Coarse sand – this is what they use at Meramec…
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If you’re looking for ways to save money in your monthly budget, but still would like to have lots of garden plants, here is one option – Cuttings. Early Fall is a great time to start this process. Don’t wait until later as the plant physiology starts to change and you’ll have less success with the cuttings.
Plant Propagation Checklist
- Buy a soil-less potting mix, rooting hormone, Osmocote and a seed germination tray from your local garden supply store. If you can buy an extra bottom tray that would make it easier and safer when moving the trays around. I prefer the trays with 36 cells per tray. You don’t want soil, but a potting mix without soil. I prefer BX Promix since this is what professionals use. It’s more expensive and can be hard to find.
- Put as much potting mix as you think you’ll need in a…
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This was another great year for Monarchs in St. Louis Missouri. Here is what my front yard looks like right now.
Here’s your chance to get up close and personal with Monarch butterflies.
Tom Terrific is hosting a tagging party where you will learn how to tag a Monarch and send it off on it’s trip to Mexico.
This party is mainly for kids, but adults are welcome also.
Date – Saturday – Sept. 29th
Time – 2 to 4 p.m.
Place: 9016 Robyn Rd. 63126
You can park at the school.
Come around to the back yard.
Below is some more information on tagging the Monarchs.
Monday – Sept. 10th – 10 a.m. – 9016 Robyn Rd – 63126
I am doing not only doing a tour of my Butterfly Gardens, but also teaching a class on how to propagate plants by cuttings.
We’ll be using my Miss Huff lantana for cuttings, so bring a cutting device and a glass/plastic container so you can take the cuttings home.