Sunday, April 29, 2012

How To Attract Butterflies To Your Garden

In order to attract butterflies to your garden, you have to make your landscape more appealing to them.  You’ll need to get the right plants that the caterpillars can use, food for the adult butterflies, and a pleasant place for the butterflies to breed and thrive.

Many types of butterflies will also need some sort of shelter from the wind.  Most butterflies really like the open areas with a lot of sun, you’ll probably need to use some sort of windbreak to protect them from high winds that can disturb them.

Where do Butterflies Hide?

Butterflies often come together by the edges of mud puddles.  You may have seen this before. No one knows why butterflies enjoy mud puddles so much, but many experts claim certain minerals that are present in the muddy water are what attracts them there.  If you want to attract a lot of butterflies, you might consider keeping some damp areas in your garden. 

The female adult butterflies need plants that can be eaten by the caterpillars that hatch from their own eggs.  Black swallow tails prefer dill and parsley.  The Monarch butterflies normally only lay their eggs on milkweed.  Female butterflies spend a lot of time searching for these type of plants to lay their eggs on.

What do Butterflies Eat?

Adult butterflies eat nectars from various flowers.  Flowering plants that contain  ample nectar are especially attractive to butterflies.  These flowers are usually brightly colored and sweetly scented.  Some species of butterflies feed on the honeydew produced by aphids.  Some even feed on plant spa, bird feces, or rotting fruit!

Your butterfly garden should contain at least one big patch of flowers that will attract butterflies.  You may want to get flowers that bloom in sequence, because this will keep butterflies visiting your garden more often. 

It is important to note that many flowers that are preferred by butterflies are considered weeds.  For example, dandelion is very attractive to several types of butterflies.  Thistle is another weed that many types of butterflies like. 

If you have an herb garden or vegetable garden, you may notice some butterflies congregating on some of your plants there.  The European cabbage butterfly enjoys broccoli, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables.  The black swallowtail often frequents herbs such as dill and parsley.

Do your best to use non-toxic insecticides in your garden unless absolutely necessary, because they can kill caterpillars.  Many insecticides can also kill the adult butterflies if they land on plants that have been treated, or if they drink nectar that was polluted by poison.

What type of flowers should you plant?

Flowers you should plant if you like to attract butterflies include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, herbs like parsley and dill, and many types of flowers.  Other good flowering plants for butterfly gardens include cosmos, marigolds, asters, lilacs, verbena, zinnias, sunflowers, thistles, bee balm, and sweet pea. And of course the "Butterfly Bush".

Making your garden friendly for butterflies doesn’t take a lot of extra work.  Just be sure to keep a small wet area for them and using some of the plants we mentioned on this post.  You will enjoy this often enough to attract numerous butterflies to your garden.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How to protect flowers and plants from diseases

Plants and flowers are not immune from disease, and you should be prepared to take action to help your flowers if they fall prey to one of these diseases.  Flowers and plants can succumb to diseases, like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

Fungi can live dormant in the soil, even without plants, for quite a long time.  Even if you grow your flowers in an area that’s been bare for a long time, fungi can still be there, waiting for you to plant something that it can attack.  So don’t think starting with bare soil will protect your flowers.

Fungi are very hard to kill, because they reproduce through spores that can spread very rapidly.  A single plant infected with a fungus can spread up to 100 million spores!  Some fungi can enter a plan through the roots, and some enter through the leaves.  You will need to work hard to get rid of a fungal infection your flowers or plants so it will not return.

Bacteria can’t live in bare soil for very long.  They can’t grow and multiply without moisture and warmth.  Bacterial infections are more prevalent in areas where the weather is warm and wet.  In the southwestern states it is usually dry, but the monsoon seasons can be very wet.   

Bacteria is often spread through things like overhead watering that causes water to splash up onto plants.  Watering at night is not a good idea.  Bacteria often get into a cut stem or leaf, so you should watch for damage to your plants.

Can viruses live in the soil?  They are only able to reproduce inside the cells of a plant.  They are usually transmitted by insects, or they can infect seeds or pollen that can be spread to other plants.  Viruses usually enter plants through cuts in the stems or leaves.

The best thing to do is to take care of your sick flowers is to diagnose the problem.  Read books or online resources to attempt to identify any problems.  You’ll really need to have some sort of resource available that can help you identify any problems, because you won’t be able to properly treat your flowers if you don’t know what’s wrong with them.

You can also visit your local garden center or extension service to ask for advice.  If you aren’t able to identify a problem on your own, you can visit one of these places to seek help.  You can simply describe your problem, but it would be best to take in pictures of the problem if you can.  Sometimes pictures can help much more than a description.

Whenever possible, you should try treating your flowers with organic methods first.  Chemicals can sometimes damage your plants as much as the disease, and they’re also very bad for the environment.  It is possible to treat your problem organically, fungicides and chemicals can do the job but there are organic solutions.

Some flowers are more delicate than others.  Roses, can be highly susceptible to a wide variety of problems.  Roses can get a problem called black spot, blistered leaves, and flowers that won’t open due to bugs called thrips.  Be sure to know what problems your flowers can be susceptible to, so you’ll already be prepared to take care of any problems by the time they occur.

At Color Your World Nurseries we can help you diagnosis your flowering, vegetable or plant problems. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Designing a Rock Desert Garden

Learning how to design a desert rock garden is pretty easy.  With enough design knowledge and inspiration you can get a beautiful rock garden.  There just as many ways to design your garden as there are rocks and plants that could go in your garden, but careful planning can ensure you have a garden that is aesthetically pleasing and will become a rewarding experience as your neighbors look on your yard with envy and they will.

In the first place designing your rock garden is to look at your space.  Every lawn has at least a ground surface.  Many  will  include grass, weeds, trees, and other shrubs and or plants.  If you have a section of your land that doesn’t have any vegetation, then this is probably a good location for your desert rock garden.

A good method of rock gardens is to take bedrock and show the bedrock jutting from the ground with a vegetation plane above it.  In this arrangement, the plants are there to hide the cracks in the bedrock or even give an illusion to there being a single piece of bedrock, instead of lots of little pieces.

One method is the Japanese rock garden.  This method is usually just sand in a contained area with a few rocks, and designs traced into the sand with a rake.  This can be very pretty and you could change the look as often as you wanted to.

After taking a look at your landscape, you should first choose any area that already doesn’t have anything growing on it.  If you’re looking at a pile of dirt or a natural rockscape, then you are lucky, because your pre-planning stage is already done. 

If you have a solid plane of grass all around your house, then your job is a little harder.  You could use the rock garden to enhance your driveway or your walkway, or any way in between.  Maybe you want to break up the land by having a rock garden between some shrubs or even if your location is completely bare except for the grass.

Clear your area of everything.  You don’t want any chance vegetation appearing in your rock garden because that would throw off the design.  Then, you get rocks!  But, not just any rocks.  Consider your area and what rocks are indigenous to your area and get only those.

If you already have a rocky area in your yard it will provide an excellent start.  You should consider breaking up those rocks up and using them in another area of your landscape. what about plants? 

Consider what plants your area would have in rocky desert areas.  These plants are typically small and need less water than other plants.  If you’re going for the “mimic nature” approach, then your choice of plants will be limited as you’ll have to follow your area’s ecology to make sure you mimic them accurately.

The best way to arrange a rock garden is to take a few rocks of random sizes, probably no more than five, and make some small piles with them.  Don’t arrange the rock piles in a linear pattern as this is not the method in nature. 

If you wish to add plants, then add them sparingly in between a lot of rock piles or even interspersed with the rock piles.  Any vegetation in your rock garden should be done on purpose.  Then you’ll have your completed, low maintenance, lawn decoration.