Free Aphid Control

You read that correctly, I did say free aphid control.

It’s frustrating to see oleander aphids on milkweed. And like all of us, they need to eat, too. It’s a complicated issue.

As is the circle of life, ladybugs gotta eat. And ladybugs love eating aphids and one will easily consume 50 a day. Winner winner ladybug dinner!

Many varieties of ladybug swarm my milkweed just as soon as they smell the aphids. This keeps the milkweed healthy for their intention of hosting monarch caterpillar.

You can learn more about ladybugs right here

In a few days, I’ll share what I use to attract ladybugs to the milkweed as well as other flowers that might be prone to an aphid infestation.

…when I take the time to pay attention

Do you ever get so busy that you neglect your surroundings? Your mental compass goes momentarily haywire?

We have an over abundance of rain coming. On top of the monsoon we had last week.

I have been spending days outdoors planting Mexican sunflowers, cosmos, zinnia and marigolds, so everything else went on the back burner.

I finally got everything done (for the day, much left to sow) and I walked around looking at my pretty blooming roses. Look at this pretty rose! She’s my DisneyLand rose showing herself off.

“The world is a rose, smell it, and pass it to your friends.” Persian Proverb

Penstemon

Three years ago, I decided to incorporate some unusual flowers thar most might not find in my area.

I was immediately taken by this beautiful white beardtongue and knew it was going into my pollinator garden.

She will bloom for maybe 6-8 weeks, then I will cut down to the red leaves that offer protection against the elements. They like sunshine and moist soil. The bee and hummingbird contingent stay close to the beardtongue.

You can get one at Bluestone Perennials or a simple google search might find it.

As always, they are fertilized with products from my friends at Eden BlueGold. When the plant begins to re-emerge in the Spring, I give it a dose of Compost Fusion Veg. After it begins budding, I fertilize with Fusion Compost Flower I give her a generous spray with Vibrant Floral.

Red Rose

My 20 year old red rose deserves the best applications I can use on her.

I only use the products in the Rose System Box from Eden BlueGold. It only takes a minute to add the measured contents to a gallon of water. Soak the roots well, then add different products from the box to water and liberally spray your roses.

I won’t use anything but Rose System Box on my roses.

Sunnin

I was busy the last few days getting my zinnia garden planted. Since I mostly take a hands off approach to raising monarchs, I hadn’t checked on them that particular day.

This one was sunnin on his milkweed and poopin. A very light shake of the leaf removes their frass (poop) without a problem. Shake the leaf, not the entire plant. Anything out of the ordinary scares the caterpillar and he’ll get frightened and poop more.

Just a reminder to avoid buying milkweed at the “big box stores” because some of their suppliers treat the milkweed before it arrives at the store. A caterpillar eating contaminated milkweed WILL die a miserable death. Get your milkweed from a nursery with their own greenhouse or buy it from joyfulbutterfly.com

Water your small plants daily until they are established.

And if you are wanting to grow milkweed yourself for next year, now is the time to start your balloon/hairy balls milkweed in order for it to be ready by next spring.

Always Eating!

Monarch eating milkweed

It’s always best to remember that one monarch caterpillar can eat an entire plant during their 5 stages of growth. Like teenagers, they have a voracious appetite. It’s better to err on the side of caution and plant more milkweed than you’ll think you need.

This monarch instar is eating tropical milkweed purchased from joyfulbutterfly.com It’s crucial to remember that when buying milkweed make sure it has been grown in a pesticide free environment. Try and not buy it from the “big box stores” because odds are, it’s been sprayed and those products will absolutely kill monarch caterpillars. Buy your milkweed from a local greenhouse or a reputable nursery online.

Wild Blue Indigo

Wild Blue Indigo is one of the first perennial to grow in my garden. It fits in anywhere you plant it. It does spread but it isn’t aggressive and adds an amazing pop of color. It’s also available in cream or yellow and I hope to add more plants this Fall.

Wild Indigo is a host plant to Duskywings, Clouded Sulphur, and several more butterflies. I purchased my indigo at Prairie Moon

Little Monarch Caterpillars

I take pride in growing my own milkweed supply to feed the monarch caterpillars.

However, I don’t always start mine as soon as I should (beginner mistake), so I supplement mine with milkweed grown by the amazing team at Joyful Butterfly

Three monarch cats on tropical milkweed purchased from www.joyfulbutterfly.com

They are a family owned business in South Carolina that sell both butterfly host plants as well as flowers that provide nectar for bees and butterflies.

My purchases from them are always viable and big and immediately ready to go in the ground. Their plants are raised in a pesticide free environment and I know I’m giving my caterpillars (not just monarchs) quality plants. I cannot say enough positive things about the team at Joyful Butterfly.