Attracting Butterflies and Hummingbirds to the Garden

butterfly.JPGMost people welcome butterflies and hummingbirds into their gardens. If you choose the right plants, you can even encourage them to stay for awhile. Butterflies will find a sunny area such as a meadow that is sheltered from the wind to be the most welcoming. They will especially love such amenities as leaf litter, rock crevices, damp places, brush piles and even weeds.

When you choose plants for your garden, keep in mind that not every plant will attracthummingbird.jpg butterflies in every region. You should also be very careful to not use pesticides unless you are able to target the specific pest without harming the butterflies.

Hummingbirds ingest half of their food every day. Flowering plants provide nectar; spiders and insects supply protein. Hummingbirds will visit a wide variety of plants. The following plants and flowers are some of their favorites.

Flowers

Botanical Name (Common Name)

  • Achilla(Yarrow)
  • Alcea–(Hollyhock)
  • Allium–(Chives)
  • Anaphalis–(Pearly Everlasting)
  • Antirrhinum–(Snapdragon)
  • Aquilegia–(Columbine)
  • Arabis–(Rock Cress)
  • Armeria–(Thrift)
  • Asclepias–(Butterfly Weed)
  • Aster–(Aster)
  • Astilbe–(False Spirea)
  • Borago–(Borage)
  • Calamintha(Calamint)
  • Catananche(Cupid’s Dart)
  • Centaurea–(Cornflower)
  • Centranthus ruber(Jupiter’s Beard)
  • Crysanthemum–(Shasta Daisy)
  • Coreopsis–(Coreopsis)
  • Cosmos–(Cosmos)
  • Delphinium–(Delphinium)
  • Dianthus–(Pink)
  • Digitalis–(Foxglove)
  • Echinacea–(Purple Coneflower)
  • Echinops–(Globe Thistle)
  • Erigeron–(Fleabane)
  • Eupatorium–(Joe-Pye Weed)
  • Fuchsia–(Fuchsia)
  • Gaillardia–(Blanket Flower)
  • Heliotropium–(Heliotrope)
  • Heuchera–(Coral Bells)
  • Iberis(Candytuft)
  • Iris–(Siberian Iris)
  • Knifophia–(Red Hot Poker)
  • Lantana–(Lantana)
  • Lavendula–(Lavender)
  • Liatris–(Gayfeather)
  • Lobelia–(Cardinal Flower)
  • Lobularia(Sweet Alyssum)
  • Lupinus–(Lupine)
  • Mimulas–(Monkey Flower)
  • Monarda–(Bee Balm)
  • Nasturtium–(Nasturtium)
  • Nepata–(Catmint)
  • Origanum–(Oregano)
  • Penstemon–(Beard Tongue)
  • Petunia–(Petunia)
  • Phlox–(Phlox)
  • Physostegia–(Obedient Plant)
  • Rudbeckia–(Gloriosa Daisy)
  • Salvia–(Sage)
  • Scabiosa–(Pincushion Flower)
  • Sedum–(Stonecrop)
  • Tagetes–(Marigold)
  • Veronica–(Speedwell)

Vines

Botanical Name (Common Name)

  • Campsis–(Trumpet Vine)
  • Clematis–(Clematis)
  • Lonicera–(Honeysuckle)

Trees

Botanical Name (Common Name)

  • Aesculus–(Horsechestnut)
  • Malus–(Apple)
  • Salix–(Willow)

Shrubs

Botanical Name (Common Name)

  • Buddleia–(Butterfly Bush)
  • Caryopteris–(Bluebeard)
  • Chaenomeles–(Flowering Quince)
  • Cornus–(Dogwood)
  • Lonicera–(Honeysuckle)
  • Mahonia–(Mahonia)
  • Philadelphus–(Mockorange)
  • Pontentilla–(Cinquefoil)
  • Ribes–(Currant, Gooseberry)
  • Sambucus–(Elderberry)
  • Spiraea–(Spirea)
  • Syringa–(Lilac)
  • Vaccinium–(Blueberry, Lingonberry)

Now you have an idea of some of the favorite plants for butterflies and hummingbirds. Which of these do you already have planted in your yard or garden? Which ones are you planning to add to your garden or yard?

Photos by Prisonbreak and Bert Glibbery

How to Prune Your Trees

Many people feel that pruning your trees and shrubs is a difficult and confusing process. But it really isn’t as difficult as you might think. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your next pruning session:


Use the Right Tool
It is far easier to use the correct tool for the job. Be sure that your tools are sharp as this will be safer for you and healthier for the plant that you are pruning.

• Hand Pruners-Depending on the size, these can be used for branches up to ¾” in diameter.

• Lopping Shears-These are best used on branches which are ¾” to 1 ¼” in diameter.

• Pruning Saws-This tool should be used on branches which are larger than 1 ¼” in diameter.

Follow the Steps in Chronological Order

• Remove any branches which are dead, broken or diseased.

• Remove any branches that crisscross, any water sprouts and any weak crotches.

• Thin out as needed. This will encourage blossoming and increase the air circulation of the plant.

• If necessary, prune to shape and reduce the size of the tree or shrub.

Other Helpful Tips

• Remember that what you leave is the most important, not what you actually remove.

• You should make all of your cuts above the union of a branch or a bud that grows in the direction you desire.

• Do not ever leave a stub.

• Leave the collar of the branch intact when pruning large branches back to the trunk area.

• You should never “top” a tree. This will result in growth that is rapid and weakened. You will end up with “witches’ brooms”.

• Remember that how much you prune will directly influence the re-growth. Light pruning will equal light re-growth and heavy pruning will equal heavy re-growth.

• Pruning in the spring will produce more breaks and re-growth than pruning in the summer.

• Prune your spring blooming shrubs right after blooming. This will encourage blossoming the next year.

• Prune apple trees and pear trees to the modified central leader. Stone fruit trees should be pruned to open the center.

• Shear your hedges in a slightly pyramidal shape to keep them full to the ground. Do not prune in an inverted pyramid shape.

• Pruning sealers are really not necessary. However, they do help to prevent the entry of borers on roses.

• Remember that pruning and disease control go together. One should not be done without the other.

• Sterilize your pruners between plants, using a 10 % bleach solution. Sterilize your pruners between each cut if fire blight or another disease is suspected. This will aid in not spreading the disease. Rinse your pruners after use to avoid corrosion.

Following these suggestions will help you to have beautiful and healthy trees and shrubs. Please share any other pruning tips that you may have learned over the years.

How to Start Gardening

imaginamorguefilecom.JPGNow that the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the leaves are growing back on the trees, we all know that spring is here! One of the many pleasures of spring is that we can enjoy our garden. Here are some tips that anyone can use for their garden this spring.

Starting the Garden
The first step in starting your garden is to plan it. Many people sketch a layout and plan their gardens on paper before doing anything else, so that they can get a grasp of what they need to purchase, what they need to do, and how the garden will look when finished. There are plenty of resources for this online, to help you out. When planning your garden, be sure you factor in the environmental conditions surrounding your area, to help you choose the right plants. Once you have planned the look of your garden, you can move on with preparing for planting.

Preparing for Planting
Here is where things start to get interesting. You will need to take your Spring Gardening plan with you when you shop for soils, plant bulbs, seeds, and other gardening equipment. This will help you make sure you have everything you need in one trip, and that you have all the tools for growing a healthy garden. After you have everything you need, it is time to prepare the land for the plants. Clear out any dead foliage. Improve your soil with fertilizers and compost heaps, and make sure the ground is ready for planting. When you are sure that you are ready to begin planting the garden, then you can move on the next step.

Planting the Garden
Here comes the fun part. Following the plan that you drew up earlier, and the instructions that came with the bulbs and seeds you purchased, plant your garden accordingly. Be prepared to spend a hefty amount of time on this step, as this should be done with the utmost care. When you have finished planting all your bulbs and seeds, water the garden if necessary, and wait for the blooms to start appearing.

Caring for the Garden
To help keep the weeds out of the garden, and the water in it, you should cover your seedlings with a few inches of mulch. This will ensure that the garden stays healthy when you cannot tend to it, and help you along. The most important thing about caring for a garden is to make sure you keep up with it. Water the plants whenever necessary, pull the weeds before they get so big they try to take over, and always remember to stop and smell the flowers!

Nothing says you have to have a green thumb to be successful when it comes to spring gardening. All it takes is a little planning, tender love, and care, and you will soon be able to bask in the beautiful glory of your own garden. Following these steps will make you a gardening pro in no time!

Submitted by: Cindy Watrous

Photo Provided by Imagina

Preparing Your Yard For Spring

graceymorguefilecom.jpg The sun is shining and the birds are beginning to sing their sweet songs. The flowers are pushing their heads up through the fresh soil announcing the arrival of spring. So what can you do to prepare your yard for spring? There are several things that you can do to ensure that your yard receives the proper start to a fantastic year.

Flower Beds

* Rake-Clean up the leftover debris from last year. This will include items such as leaves, twigs and any garbage that has blown in during the winter.

* Uncover any plants such as roses you have protected during the winter.

* Maintenance pruning-clean up any winter damage.

* Amend the soil-add compost to create a rich soil for this year’s plants.

* Fertilize-choose a slow release fertilizer and add it to all of your flower beds, roses and perennials for a healthy start.

* Add pre-emergent weed preventers-this ensures weed-free gardens throughout the summer.

Lawns

* Apply a humic acid based fertilizer such as Natural Guard Soil Activator. This can be found at your local garden center. Applying this at the beginning of the season aids in nutrient enhancement without stimulating premature growth.

* Mow-if you allowed your grass to grow long during the fall, an early maintenance cutting is recommended.

* Apply a pre-emergent crabgrass and weed preventer. This will cut down on or reduce the amount of weeds that will develop in your lawn throughout the season.

Trees

* If you have ornamental trees, then pruning is recommended in the spring.

* Prune-do any necessary repair pruning that might have come from winter damage. This is also a great time to thin out any excess growth in your trees.

* Apply a dormant spray-this will depend on which type of tree you have. But a dormant spray will help to control any overwintering insect eggs and funguses.

* Fertilize with a tree and shrub specific fertilizer. This will give your trees a great and healthy start for the year as they wake up from their winter slumber.

Taking these general steps in the spring will help you to have a yard you can be proud of during the summer months. Where do you begin when you are preparing your yard for spring?

Photo provided by Gracey