Friday, November 9, 2007

Gardening thoughts and ideas

When people talk about butterfly gardening, they usually just talk about having lots of nectar plants that butterflies can feed on. What they fail to mention is that butterflies are plant specific. This means that butterflies lay their eggs on certain plants. If you don't have the host plants, you won't have the butterflies. For example, monarch butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed and butterfly weed. You wonder why you don't see monarchs anymore? Do you have these plants? I have several varieties in my garden and the monarchs come home to mama every year (take a look at how beautiful the monarch chrysalis is). The swallowtail butterfly will only lay eggs on rue, fennel, or parsley. Do you have these plants? When the caterpillars get big enough, I'll go and cut the stem they are on (you can't just pull them off or you will rip their toes off), put the stem in wet florist foam, and keep giving them fresh food until they make a chrysalis (which is fascinating to watch). Then I'll move that and in about 2 weeks, I get to see a butterfly hatch. The best plant is passion vine. I have several varieties and this vine is a host plant for the gulf fritillary. Have you ever watched a butterfly lay eggs? Get this plant and you will. A great book on this is The Family Butterfly Book by Rick Mikula. There's nothing like seeing butterflies in your yard and knowing that you birthed them.

Great combinations:
Viburnum, moonv ine, morning glory

Viburnum is a host plant for the hummingbird moth (among many other moths) and moths are nocturnal so why not give them night blooming flowers? Duh. We had a moon vine around our arbor and had every night several moths who would feed. It was wonderful. The morning glories bloomed in the morning and were equally attractive.

Any kind of milkweed next to confederate rose
Milkweed attracts monarchs and having the confederate rose beside next to them gave the monarchs a place to hang their chrysalis.

Cool plants:
Love in a Puff is an annual vine that has seeds that are round and brown and a white heart shape on them. Too cool and a wonderful treasure for anybody. See photo on the left.

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