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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

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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Monarchs in California

Webinar Title: Western Monarch Population down by 99%: How you can help 

Date/Time: Tuesday, February 26th at 2PM ET (1pm Central, 12pm Mountain, 11am Pacific)


Description: Have you heard about the steep decline in the Western monarch population? Are you wondering how you can help? This webinar will explore the citizen science effort that tracks the California overwintering monarch population and will discuss the results from this year’s Western Monarch Thanksgiving Count, a record low and a 99.4% decline.


·         Katie Hietala-Henschell, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

·         Nick Stong, Programs Manager, Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History

·         Emma Pelton, Western Monarch Lead, Endangered Species Conservation Biologist, the Xerces Society

The webinar will be offered through WebEx.  The link and participation details will be provided the day prior to the webinar.

Please feel free to share this announcement and registration information!We look forward to your participation!
MJV/NCTC Webinar Team

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Dormant Oil Spray

aphidsTwo problems I have in the butterfly garden are aphids on milkweed and mildew on many plants. One idea that I saw recently was using Dormant Oil Spray.during late winter and early spring. While the video was mainly for fruit trees, the process would also be similar in my garden.

In particular, the area where I grow milkweed, might benefit from spraying the soil where aphid eggs would over-winter. I remove any milkweed plants around March 1st so my plan is to spray the soil around Feb. 15th then once again after I clean out the garden.

Note – I remove any chrysalises I find in the fall and keep them in the garage.

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Root Your Cuttings Now

Butterfly Gardening


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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Aphid Video

Here is a video on aphids done by the naturalist and videographer Jo Alwood.


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Free Tropical Milkweed Seeds

monarch-dsc04726I have some milkweed seeds that I’d be glad to share. The seeds are Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica.

Plant the seed so it is slightly covered and keep warm and moist to start. If you start these inside, you can get a a head start on spring.  I like to start my seeds inside in March. Plant outside when all danger of frost is gone – usually around May 1st in St. Louis Missouri. Tropical Milkweed does not like cooler temperatures, so there is not advantage to planting it early.

Another option is to plant the seeds in the soil and let them come up naturally.
May 1st would be the earliest I would plant in my area.
If you plant too early, the seeds will rot in the ground.

These seeds also do very well in pots.  You can put 20 to 30 seeds in a 12 inch pot.

Please send a SASE – Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Free Milkweed Seeds
9016 Robyn Rd
St. Louis, MO 63126

The best way to start these seeds is with bottom heat.  The seedlings on the right have bottom heat.










80 degrees and seeds slightly covered seems to be the best. I did put the plastic top on this to keep in the heat and moisture.

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What to Plant?

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.


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