GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2001 show17
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Butterfly Gardens with Paul Thomas

Dr. Paul Thomas has some good ideas about developing and maintaining a Butterfly Garden. To bring butterflies to your garden you'll also need to make the environment friendly for Caterpillars. Caterpillars need forage plants because they eat the leaves. Plants such as Parsley,
Carrots, Dill are Caterpillar favorites. Butterflies like nectar plants
for food. Plants like Verbena Bonariensis, Joe Pye Weed, Gomphrena,
Lantana are Butterfly favorites.

This is not only a helpful piece for those interested in a Butterfly
Garden but this segment and others in this show have some beautiful
photography of Caterpillars and Butterflies.

Butterfly Life Cycle

Cynthia Mazer from Callaway Gardens explains a butterfly life cycle.
There are four distinct stages: egg stage, larval stage...Caterpillar,
pupa stage...Chrysalis and adult Butterfly.

Hummingbirds and Butterflies

Helen Phillips from Callaway Gardens shows us how to attract both
Butterflies and Hummingbirds. Butterflies land to eat, Hummingbirds
hover. Some plants can attract both, you may need some different plants in your garden to attract both.

Dr. Rick Introduces us to Amaranthus

Talk about turning a sow's ear into a silk purse! This plant is the flashy cousin of an old timey plant known as pigweed, scientific name of Amarathus tricolor. Look what has happened to a coarse, rather weedy old time flower. I'll bet if you've gardened a while, you remember Love lies bleeding with the red, drooping tassel-like clusters of flowers. That was A. caudatus also known as Tassle Flower. The word Amarathus comes from greek A meaning not and mairaino "to wither" which refers to the long lasting character of the flowers. The young leaves are pretty tasty resembling spinach (so you may want to grow it for a summer spinach substitute).

The new kid on the block is Amarathus tricolor with several common names Joesph's Coat Amaranthus, Fountain Plant, Tampala with leaves 2-6" long. Look at the blotched red and green leaves. This is fireworks in your garden. Guaranteed to make folks take a another look. It gets a couple feet tall and the varieties tell you how spectacular this plant really can be. Molten Fire, Flaming Fountain, and Illumination are just a few fascinating varieties of this blast of color and form.

You'll rarely see this plant when temperatures are cool. It needs soil temperatures of at least 70 to germinate and flourish. So, don't put it out too early. It will just sit there or maybe even suffer until things warm up. It really likes full sun and dry conditions, its very very drought tolerant and can have trouble if it stays too wet. problem It can get up to 5' tall, it may need some staking.

From a design standpoint, it is an eye-full. It's probably best not to try to blend it in with a lot of other plants because it's almost fluorescent. It can easily overwhelm an entire garden, so use it with discretion. I'd try surrounding it with some green foliage plants and leave it alone. It certainly doesn't need any help to be noticed. Amarathus tricolor.

One problem we have around here are flea beetles eating the foliage. Flea beetles are shiny, oval blue-black, brown or bronzy green beetles about 1/16 inch long. They're called flea beetles because they jum when disturbed. Flea beetles love hot dry conditions, so we start to see them this time of year esp. if we are in a drought situation.

See this damage. Flea beetles chew holes in the leaves sometimes to the point that the leaves look torn and tattered or ultimate are almost skeletilized. This means they eat everything but the veins. Most plants can stand some damage. Also, they are VECTORS of other disease Which means that their chewing activities creates a perfect site for bacterias and fungi to enter the plant.

Since they love hot dry conditions, try squirting the leaves with a bit of water a couple of times a week. This drives 'em crazy. Insecticidal soap works, as does carbaryl or Sevin. If they are a constant problem, try tilling the ground between plantings such as at the end of the summer or during the winter will cut down the number of eggs, larvae and pupae in the soil.

Plum Leaf Azaleas

Hank Bruno from Callaway Gardens introduces us to the Plum Leaf Azalea. This rare plant has vivid orange/red blooms that last into July or
August, possibly as late as October. They can survive in direct sun but
the blooms will fade, they do best in the shade. They like acidic, well
drained, organic soil. They will grow to 15-20 feet tall and although
native to the deep south can grow as far north as Boston.

Dr. Rick and Hay Bale Gardening

Last year I read about a fellow that was fed up with trying to start a garden in the ground and decided to try to grow this tomatoes and peppers in bales of hay. Naturally, I was skeptical. How can you grow vegetables in hay. But it was too intriguing to let it go. Well I had helped a friend install a new lawn early last spring and I new he had some bales of hay left over that he didn't need, and he offered them to me. So, I set them on a spot that got quite a bit of sun, threw a little 10-10-10 fertilizer on them and a couple of shovels of compost from the pile, soaked them down good and let it sit for a about a month. I dug out a few holes and put a few pumpkin seeds in the holes and, Viola! The pumpkins have done extremely well and I am waiting to start seeing a few small pumpkins this time of year. One of the best things about this approach is the lack of weeds. I haven't had any and at the end of the growing season this year I can take this hay and add it to the compost pile, or just leave it here to nourish the soil. Also, the hay holds quite a bit of moisture. We've had a very dry summer and I've only watered it twice. Other than the small amount of fertilizer I put on it early spring, I haven't put a bit on it. The hay bales I got were pretty old. If I try it again, I am going to get my bales in the fall and let them sit all winter to compost a bit before I plant in the spring.

So if you're looking for a way to create a low maintenance vegetable garden, don't dig, try hay bales gardening. It really works.

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GardenSMART Featured Article

By Heather Blackmore for Proven Winners
Photographs courtesy of Proven Winners

Heather has written a great article about 5 new annuals that take the heat and thrive all summer long. To learn more click here for an interesting article.

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