In St. Louis, Missouri, April is always a month for safety first when it comes to new plants. Many new plants that I buy or have started in the basement are much better off outside, but with temperatures below freezing at times, you have to figure out how to protect the plants.
I don’t plant until after May 1st, so I have to keep on top of the weather for all of April.
Here is one way I use to protect my plants.
I put them on a rolling shelf unit. When the temperature is above 45 degrees, I roll out the plants and give them water and sunshine. I don’t put them in full sun all day, but will start them out in sunshine and then move them to a shady area.
At night when the temperatures go below 40 degrees, I bring them inside the garage for protection.
While most of my emphasis is on growing specific plants for butterflies, there are many other insects and birds which I enjoy. Unfortunately, numbers seem to be decreasing every year. Here is a good video on what we can all do to bring nature back to our yards.
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.
- Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
- Dragon Improved – Yoder
- Millstadt – Sappington Gardens
- Days aster – Blue Yoder – Wiethops
- Hazy Aster – Dark Pink – Yoder – Wiethops
- Magic Aster Purple – Yoder – Wiethops
- 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.
Here 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.
Every year the state of Missouri offers inexpensive trees and shrubs for sale. They can be as little as $1.00 or less, depending on how many you order. The catch is that you have to buy in large quantities, so call your neighbors and friends and see if you can come up with the minimum.
Click on the link below to get the brochure and order form. Many plants will be sold out, so the quicker you order the better.
From their list, I grow Tulip Poplar, Hackberry, Willow, and Spicebush.
Filed under Plants, Trees
Bill Ruppert, one of the areas best known plant experts and speakers has a list of what he calls, “Bill’s choice perennial plant PICKS for lower Midwest landscapes and gardens.”
I’ve grown many of Bill’s plant recommendations, but haven’t tried some of his new cultivars. I’d recommend you give them a try this coming year. Click here for the complete list.