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Let’s Talk about May 2016

With all the showers we have had in April, I am expecting to be amazed by the May flowers.  We won’t speak of the May mosquitoes, but we will certainly feel them.

I looked back on my article for this month in 2012 to refresh my brain on what was happening then.  In 2012, I was trying to rid my flowerbeds of spiderwort.  I am still working on that, but I can say there has been progress.  I also used Actino-Iron on my yellowing Satsuma.  I can report the Actino-Iron worked quite well and I haven’t had that issue again.   Unfortunately, you can’t buy Actino-Iron at this time.  I was also trying to contain my red shrimp plant to give my other plants some room, well, just forget that and let it have all the space it wants.

May is a time to change out those spring color plants for something a little more heat tolerant.  For sun color, you might want to go with vinca, scaevola, zinnia, pentas, angelonia, cosmos, gomphrena, cleome, melampodium, portulaca, coleus, caladiums, coreopsis, coneflowers, lantana, sedum, and salvia.  These plants flower or add color with beautiful leaves, with ease, to any sunny garden.

For a shadier garden, try torenia, coleus, caladiums, lysimachia, impatiens, ajuga, begonias, Persian shield, Mona lavender, pigeon berry, Australian violet, firespike, lisianthus, polka a dot plant, wood violets, cat whiskers, and coral bells.  Just like the plants for sunny gardens, these plants add color with their flowers and/or their foliage.

To get the most blooms from your color plants fertilize them.  Making all those flowers is hard work, feed them and they will continue to bloom their hearts out.  We recommend Microlife 8-4-6 to keep your plants healthy and blooming.

Now, for a just a little more effort in planning and just a teensy more work you can add butterfly-attracting plants to your landscape or containers. If you have wanted more butterflies visiting you in your garden all you have to do is plant for them.  What is needed?  You will need nectar plants to attract and feed the butterflies, and then you will need host plants to provide food for the caterpillars.  Create sun and shade areas for your butterflies.  You will also need a water source.  Sound simple enough?  It is.

Plant masses of nectar plants around your host plants.  Butterfly nectar and host plants can be large so decide how much room you have before you start picking plants. The list of butterfly plants below, includes sun and shade plants.  These plants need a location that is protected from wind and good soil with lots of drainage.

Good nectar plants bloom from spring to frost or are repeat bloomers like shrimp plant, lantana, cigar plant, coneflowers, pentas, butterfly bush, mist flower, honey bee blue agastache, ageratum, duranta, gaura, yarrow, bee balm, bat face Cuphea, citrus, gaillardia, gomphrena, Liatris, porterweed, rock rose, salvia, rudbeckia, almond verbena, bottle brush, fire bush, hardy hibiscus, Turk’s cap, Mexican heather, Russian sage, toad lily, asclepias, and vitex.

Now, for the host plants, pick the butterfly or butterflies you want to visit your garden.

Monarch butterfly’s host plant is Asclepias aka butterfly weed or milkweed

Gulf Fritillary’s host plant is the passion vine

Cloudless Sulphur’s host plant is the candlestick or yellow cassia

Queen Butterfly’s host plant is Asclepias

Spicebush Swallowtail’s host plant is the camphor tree

Giant Swallowtail’s host plants are rue and citrus

Gold Rim Swallowtail’s host plant is Aristolochia (Gigantea or Trilobata)

Pipevine swallowtail’s host plant is Aristolochia (Elegans or Trilobata)

Black Swallowtail’s host plants are parsley, dill, and fennel

Butterflies like full sun and heat; they like to warm themselves on rocks.  Add rock to the sunny areas of your garden for them.  As you plant some of the bigger nectar or host plants, these plants will add the shade needed for the butterflies to your garden.

Okay, we have our nectar plants and host plants, our sunny and shady areas, now we need a source of water.  To provide water for butterflies, use a saucer or pan add pebbles and small stones, sand, soil, mud and water.  Your butterflies will enjoy puddling in your (their) garden.

May is a great gardening month, but it is also the month that the heat intensifies.  With the heat you may need to water more and as you water inspect your plants for damage from bugs.  Check out Jennifer’s article for more information.

So many wonderful things to do your garden.

Enjoy!