Category Archives: Butterfly Gardening

Gardening on the Balcony

apartment

Even if you are in an apartment or condo, if you have some sort of balcony you can use, then you can create your own little mini-park. Below is an article I found that you can download which will give you many ideas on how to create a nature preserve on your balcony.

I found this to be true with my Aunt Betty. She had a second story apartment in the city of St. Louis. I gave her some milkweed for her balcony and later that summer we found some Monarch larvae happily munching on it. Butterflies don’t care where the host plant is – as long as it’s outside and they can get to it.

My only tip would to be sure you put a plastic tray under your plants so that when you water them it won’t drip on your neighbor below.

Click here for the article.

 

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Monarch Butterflies Have Arrived in St. Louis

Monarch-IMG_2288-web

Yesterday, April 22nd, I saw my first weathered Monarch butterfly arrive in St. Louis. It went right past my 50 assorted milkweed plants, but I’m hoping it doubles back and lays some eggs. I think it was a female.

I also learned today that St. Louis has started a “Milkweeds for Monarchs – The St. Louis Butterfly Project.

St. Louis City is going to put in 50 Monarch gardens and is encouraging the community to plant 200 more.

While the effort is noble, they have a number of recommendations which need to be tempered with experience. They recommend a 3′ x 3′ area and suggest filling it with 9 different plants – 3 of which are invasive. A New England Aster can fill a 3′ x 3′ area by itself.

 

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Milkweed, Monarchs

Harden and Toughen Plants Before They Are Planted

I have trouble moving my carefully pampered and wimpy indoor plants to the outdoor Mother Nature boot camp. My indoor plants have gotten plenty of water, fertilizer and not a whole lot of sunshine from my fluorescent bulbs. As a result they are a bit like that kid in the old comic books that needs to grow some muscles and toughen up.

harden-plants-fan

FAN – Indoors, I still have a few plants which haven’t transitioned outside yet, so I have turned on a fan to get some air movement and hopefully strengthen and toughen up their stalks.

CART – I like to use a five level cart with wheels so that I can move plants in and out of the garage.

harden-plants-shade

SHADE – Keep plants in the shade for the first week or so and then gradually introduce them into full sun. I bought this shade fabric at Harbor Freight for $27.00. I’m going to try it out and see how it does. I like that it has lots of grommets.

WIND – You can put up a board or wind-break to let you plants gets used to it.

WATER – I’ve read that it’s best to reduce the watering during this time, so I will only water once a day.

FERTILIZER – no extra fertilizer.

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April 5th – Free Butterfly Gardening Program

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I’m doing my Ten Commandments of Butterfly Gardening for Greenscape Gardens  this spring.

Date: April 5th
Time: 10:00 AM.

FREE.

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Gym or Gardening for Health?

Gym-or-Gardeing

There is one phrase you won’t hear from most typical Americans.
That phrase is this, “Hey let’s go to the gym. I feel like doing a hundred situps.”

If I give most people a choice of an hour at the gym or an hour in front of the TV watching their favorite show, The Amazing Race and Dancing with the Stars will win every time.

We all know we need to exercise, we know we should exercise, and we know it’s good for us. But we just don’t feel like it, we just don’t want to, and as a result, we just don’t do it. According to the CDC, only 20.6% Americans are getting the required amount of aerobic and strength training they recommend.

I’ve got a solution that will not only give you the exercise you should be doing, but it will also be healthful, enjoyable and creative – Gardening.

Gardening gets you outside breathing fresh air, sunshine to create that needed Vitamin D and most importantly, provides us with an opportunity to move that creaky/stiff body that us seniors seem to be plagued with.

According to the American Journal of Public Health,  adults who were part of community garden programs had lower BMI’s (Body Mass Index) and lower odds of being overweight or obese when compared to non-gardeners.

A Huffington Post article mentioned the stress relieving benefits of gardening even when compared to  thirty minutes of reading a book. There’s nothing wrong with reading a book, but thirty minutes in the garden will be better for your stress levels.

Gardening will even help you live longer! According to a British report, people who were active and participated in activities like gardening, reduced the chance of death by 30%.

Another study from Korea shows the benefits of gardening for children also. The kids were give regular  gardening jobs like digging, raking, weeding, mulching, hoeing, sowing seeds, harvesting, watering, mixing soil, and planting transplants. In the end, all the tasks were given shown to cause moderate to high intensity physical exercise. Kids don’t necessarily have to join a sports team – give them a garden to take care of.

So, how do you start?
The answer is – start small.

You can start with just a few pots on the deck/patio or a four by four foot square area. The trick is don’t overdo it that first year. If you give yourself too large an area to take care of, then it will become filled with weeds, overgrown and you’ll become discouraged. Smaller is better that first year. You can always expand next year as you become more experienced. Also try my “Easy Way” to start a garden.

There are lots of sites and books on gardening so I’m not going to try and duplicate all those resources. Here’s a link to my site www.ButterflyGardening.org. It has lots of great information and should not only get you started, but keep you going for quite a while.

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Misc

Soil Solarization

Here’s a new term I recently learned  – soil solarization. It’s a technique using clear plastic and the power of the sun to kill all sorts of pests, weed seeds and pathogens. There are a number of good articles on this so I won’t redo what’s already been recorded. If you are planning a new garden and have the time to do this, I’d give it a try.

Here are some links to check out and a video at the end.

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July 4th – Time to Cut to the Ground

veronica-before-after

Around July 4th some of my perennials which have been spectacular for the past two months are now going to seed and although they’re still green, don’t add anything to the garden. This is true for veronica, salvia, and maltese cross in particular.

What I do around this date is to save any seed I want and then cut the plants down to the ground. I also usually add a bit of fertilizer to spur some new growth. Last year I got three distinct blooms using this plan and my gardens looked great. This year I’ll probably only get two blooms, but that is still one more than most people.

The other advantage I’ve found is that for veronica, buckeyes like to lay their eggs on this new growth.

I have experimented with this technique on other plants and have not duplicated the success.

If you know of any other butterfly perennials that this  works with, let me know.

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Pruning

Free Butterfly Gardening Program Tonight

Tiger-Swallowtail-female-co

If you’re interested in learning about Butterfly Gardening, I’m doing a free program tonight at Powder Valley – 6pm.

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Filed under 2013, Butterfly Gardening

Lantana – Back Two Years in a Row

lantana-hardy

As we had a long cold winter in St. Louis, Missouri, I was concerned that my lantana would not make it through year number two, but I was wrong.

When I came back from vacation both Miss Huff and Start Landing were both coming out from their root stock. This is a good reminder to not be so quick to pull up plants that appear to be dead in the early spring.

Note also that Miss Huff appears to be a stronger more hardy plant than Star Landing. Star Landing however is a bit more colorful.

 

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Nectar Plant, Perennials

Raised Bed Butterfly Gardens

raised-beds

One of the nicest school gardens that I’ve ever helped with used a raised bed system. That year we had a terrible drought so I was concerned about how the plants would do as they baked in the heat. Here’s the result after one year.

Good

  • Pearly Everlasting
  • Gaillardia – great!
  • New England Aster
  • Echinacea
  • Maltese Cross
  • Sedum
  • Shast Daisy – but doing poorly.
  • Slender Mountain Mint
  • Veronica

Died Out

  • Verbena bonareinsis – seems to have died out, but may have reseeded itself.

2013 – we planted 25 extra plants – filling in with milkweed(swamp, annual + seeds), bronze fennel, meadow blazing star, coreopsis and lantana,

 

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Filed under Butterfly Gardening, Schools, soil