Monday, July 1, 2013

July 2013

Start a Butterfly Garden. Butterflies are beautiful creatures. The adults are good pollinators and the larvae of some called Harvesters eat harmful insects. It is actually quite easy to attract butterflies to your garden. Butterflies like to sun themselves and will only drink from very shallow water. Flat rocks with indentations that collect or can be filled daily with water, or a container full of sand that has been saturated with water are good places for butterflies to get a drink. You will want to plant perennials, annuals, shrubs and trees that serve as a nectar source for adults as well as supplying suitable plants for their caterpillars. When laying their eggs butterflies seek out host plants that the larvae will use as their food. Most of the time the caterpillars will not destroy a plant but only eat for a while, pupate and be gone. Trees that act as host plants include Malus (Flowering Crabapple), Platunus (Sycamore) and Prunus (Plum). Munchable shrubs are Hibiscus, Rosa (Rose), Spiraea, Viburnum (Snowball) and Wisteria. Annuals and Perennials would be Achillea (Yarrow), Alcea (Hollyhock), Brassicas (Broccoli, Cabbage and Mustard), Lobularia (Alyssum), Penstemon and herbs such as Fennel, Dill and Lovage. Nectar producers for adults include the flowers of Apples, Vitex (Chaste Tree), Lavandula (Lavender), Lonicera (Honeysuckle), Syringa (Lilac), of course Buddleia (Butterfly Bush), Rosmarinus (Rosemary), Centranthus (Jupiter's Beard), Echinacea (Coneflowers), Achillea (Yarrow) and Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan). These are a few of the plants that butterflies enjoy. For a complete list stop by the nursery. Butterflies are fun and relaxing to watch so start your butterfly garden today.
Plant something. We are hoping that the monsoon is right around the corner for a multitude of reasons and since plants do 80% of their root growth in late summer, fall and winter now through early fall is really the best time to plant. Some rain and humidity will make watering a little less critical. Choose a tree, shrub or perennial and dig the hole twice as wide and 1 1/2 times as deep as the container. Add 1/3 Back to Earth Compost Blend to 2/3 of your native soil (I know it's bad) mix it up and use this mixture to plant. If your soil is clayey add Gypsum. Use B1 as a root stimulator when watering your new plants. The best way to check to see if any plant needs water is to stick your finger in the soil and if it dry 1'' down water thoroughly. Do a rain dance, plant something and be rewarded next spring.


Hibiscus. Many think of Hibiscus only as a tropical plant that will die if kept outside in the winter here but there are 2 great species that will overwinter in our area while providing you with those tropical looking flowers. One is the large deciduous shrub Hibiscus syriacus or Rose of Sharon as it is commonly known. It grows at a moderate rate to 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide and can be trained into a small tree. The leaves are a medium green with 3 lobes and the summer flowers can be either double or single and as big as 3" across. Established plants will take some drought but a low amount of water is recommended. The 2 varieties we have right now are the Proven Winner 'Azuri Satin' which is a single blue flower with a red throat and 'Boule de Feu' that is a double pinkish-red. Both of these Hibiscus are full sun or part shade shrubs and are hardy to 20 degrees below zero. Use them in mass as a colorful hedge, for an accent or as an anchor in a perennial bed. 
Hibiscus syriacus 'Azuri Satin'
Hibiscus syriacus 'Boule de Feu'
The other species of Hibiscus that we carry is Hibiscus moscheutos variety 'Luna Red'. Some common names are Rose Mallow and Dinner Plate Hibiscus and this is an herbaceous perennial meaning it will die to the ground in the winter and reemerge in spring. It grows to 2-3' tall and wide each season, its leaves are dark green with a whitish underside and the flowers that start in late June and continue until frost are no less than spectacular. Dark red, very tropical looking and at least 6" across. Our friend Lou has had one in a whiskey barrel for 3 years and it is a perfect specimen. It gets morning sun, afternoon shade and is protected from the west wind. So an east side would be ideal. She mulches it with straw each winter and it easily made it through the minus 8 we had a few years ago. All of these Hibiscus attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Lou with her Hibiscus moscheutos 'Luna Red'


No comments:

Post a Comment