Hummingbird Feeders for Butterflies and Bees

butterflies-bees-hummingbird-feederOne of my late season observations was that my hummingbird feeders were attracting painted lady butterflies and bees. Since the hummingbirds were gone, I took off the top of one of my feeders and put in some plastic landing pads.

As you can see above, butterflies and bees are both attracted to this feeder. I am still using the 1 to 4 ratio of sugar to water. The bees will drink the liquid within an hour.

As you can see in the video below, it does get rather busy, but the bees paid no attention to me and were not aggressive at all.

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Monarch Tagging Party

monarch-dsc04726Here’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 – Sunday – October 1st

Time – 1 – 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.

http://monarchwatch.org/tagmig/tag.htm

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Soils Program

This is a topic that might interest you.
It’s free, but these programs do fill up, so I would register ASAP.
http://www.deercreekalliance.org/soils_ingham

Soil-weboflife

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Asters in the Fall

Asters are great fall plants that will be blooming when many plants are done.
The native version is the New England Aster and at times it’s mobbed by all sorts of butterflies in the fall. The problem is that in the home garden, it has a tendency to grow VERY large and flops over, takes up a lot of space and covers other plants. While you can cut it back a couple of times during the season, it’s more work than I care for.
A second option are the new aster cultivars. They are available right now (September 12th) in the local nurseries.

Here are the ones I have bought recently. I’m going to plant them soon and see how they do next year. The largest version is “Believer” from Lowes.  I’ve had as many as ten Painted Lady butterflies nectaring at one time on these plants. These new cultivars seem to be good nectar sources and still draw in the pollinators.

Here are the seven varieties I have bought so far. Left to right and bottom to top.

  1. Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
  2. Dragon Improved – Yoder
  3. Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
  4. Days aster – Blue Yoder – Wiethops
  5. Hazy Aster – Dark Pink – Yoder – Wiethops
  6. Magic Aster Purple – Yoder – Wiethops
  7. Believer – Lowes – this seems to get the most butterflies. It is also the nicest in size, but that might change over the years.

Here are some of the butterflies that love asters.

 

 

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Seeds and Cuttings Class – Sept. 16th

Seeds-600

Tom is doing a free class on collecting seeds and making cuttings to help increase your plant population in 2018.

No need to signup – just park at the school across the street.

Date: Saturday – September 16th
Time: 10 a.m.
Place: 9016 Robyn Rd – Crestwood, MO 63126

Bring:

  • Paper lunch bags for seeds.
  • Scissors or pruners.
  • Small pots, clear plastic bags and potting mix for cuttings.

 

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Rudbeckia Test

fulgidafulgida-versus-fulgida-1200Here are what two versions of Rudbeckia or Black Eyed Susan look like on September 7th in St. Louis Missouri.

One version is the more common Rudbeckia fulgida which I have grown for years. The advantage of this variety is that it’s a native and spreads easily via the roots and is a perennial. It has two disadvantages. Most years it gets a disease and flowers poorly in my yard. The second reason is that even when it is not diseased, it stops blooming around this time of the year.

The other version I am testing is Rudbeckia fulgida fulgida. It seems to be relatively easy to grow and reseeds easily.

As you can see the Fulgida fulgida variety definitely looks better this time of year. It’s not a great nectar plant, but it does attract a few pollinators and might attract the goldfinch.

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Planting Seeds in the Fall

While most annual seeds are planted in the spring, many native seeds need to be planted outside in the late fall. They need what is called cold-stratification to break the seeds out of their dormancy. While this can be done artificially, it’s easiest for the home gardener to just do it in an outside garden.

Here’s a technique that I use with good results. I would normally suggest planting the seeds around Thanksgiving. If it is still warm, wait until things cool down.

starting-seeds-outside-01

  • Scrape off the top half inch of soil and mulch. You want to get down to the soil level. Set that material off to the side – we won’t use it. If you have weeds in the area, dig them out and put them in your compost.
  • You then want to define your seed area so it will be easy to identify in the spring. You can use anything you want – hula hoop, wood, bricks, etc.
  • I used a product called Terrace Board which is usually used as a lawn/garden edging. I cut it into twenty foot lengths and then drilled a hole into both ends and used a bolt to connect the overlapping ends. You will probably also need to buy plastic pegs to keep the board in place.
  • Another option if you have lots of weeds and/or grass is to lay a couple layers of newspaper to smother the old growth and fill the area with good potting soil.
  • I usually also add a half inch layer of compost or potting soil over the soil. We have clay soil in my location and it is not the ideal germinating medium.
  • Put in your seeds, cover with another 1/4 inch of potting soil/compost and then water.
  • Label the area so you know what seeds you planted.
  • The plants you see are Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed.
  • The advantage of this method is that you know that the plants coming up are the ones which are on the label.

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