The Butterfly Weed is not related to the Butterfly Bush, except for the first name of the plants.
Instead, Butterfly Weed is related to milkweed, the mother's milk of Monarchs. As a relative, it is also food source for the Monarch larvae when they hatch,
I like most weeds, because each one has good, useful qualities, but this one is badly named. It does not have tiny flowers and is not an obnoxious pest (unlike Giant Hogweed).
It is really a perennial wildflower that many grow in their butterfly gardens.
I obtained three plants and some seed. The plants arrived yesterday, fairly dried out.
The previous night's rain provided two barrels of rainwater, so I first soaked the plants in rainwater for an hour. Immersed, not sprinkled.
I found a prominent spot where they would get water and sunlight and attention - near the Bee Balm.
The row was already mulched, so it only took a stab into the wet soil to open a place for all three.
Planting them was no chore, but I wanted them distinguished from the rest of the growing things, weeds included.
I have been doing something I learned from crafts class in school, long ago. I take a section of the newspaper, already soaked in rain, and tear a hole in the crease.
This gives me a circular area to fit around the tiny plant, a bib to let in water easily and yet smother the rambunctious weeds surrounding it.
The weeds think I am lazy and do not want to bend over and pull them out. That may be true, but I also consider fresh, green, vibrant weeds to be future compost. The newspaper bib puts weeds in the dark and unleashes the forces of Creation on them. They wilt in the dark and fungi,bacteria, and earthworms turn them into the best soil amendment around.
Once the three bibs were installed and a few damp newspapers added for stray weeds, I opened a bag of shredded cyprus mulch on them and spread that around.
The next step is important. Although rain was hours away, I gently poured stored rainwater all over the mulch around each plant, using more rainwater to settle the soil around the fragile roots.
A wet plant in dry mulch is going to have the water wicked away by the dry wood, and that is wicked for the plant. But once soaked, the mulch will hold water for the newborn plant.
Gardening gurus will say wood throttles the nitrogen, so only use old, composted, wood. Wood will absorb nitrogen while rotting, but it will also give it up slowly later, a better bargain than the fear-mongers imagine. Pouring rainwater on the mulch provides an extra measure of nitrogen. When the roots become established they will insist on nitrogen from the fungi which are hungry for carbon.
The fungi are only too happy to absorb creatures rich in nitrogen.
At the center of any viable soil food web are plants. Plants control the food web for their own benefit, an amazing fact that is too little understood and surely not appreciated by gardeners who are constantly interfering with Nature’s system [Creation]. Studies indicate that individual plants can control the numbers and the different kinds of fungi and bacteria attracted to the rhizosphere by the exudates they produce...
Soil bacteria and fungi are like small bags of fertilizer, retaining in their bodies nitrogen and other nutrients they gain from root exudates and other organic matter (such as those sloughed-off root-tip cells). Carrying on the analogy, soil protozoa and nematodes act as “fertilizer spreaders” by releasing the nutrients locked up in the bacteria and fungi “fertilizer bags.” The nematodes and protozoa in the soil come along and eat the bacteria and fungi in the rhizosphere. They digest what they need to survive and excrete excess carbon and other nutrients as waste. Left to their own devices, then, plants produce exudates that attract fungi and bacteria (and, ultimately, nematodes and protozoa); their survival depends on the interplay between these microbes. It is a completely natural system, the very same one that has fueled plants since they evolved [GJ - sic]. Soil life provides the nutrients needed for plant life, and plants initiate and fuel the cycle by producing exudates.
Lewis, Wayne; Lowenfels, Jeff; (2010-09-10). Teaming with Microbes: The Organic Gardener's Guide to the Soil Food Web, Revised Edition (Kindle Locations 199-206). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
Roses More Glorious
This morning I went out to do my paper route, putting the newspaper on the front porch of the Gardeners. I also placed a surprise near each Queen Elizabeth rose, one plaque for Bethany Joan Marie, and another for Erin Joy.
The KnockOut Roses are begging for cutting and pruning. The roses finish fast and start to fade, and they are not "self-pruning." Today the neighborhood mothers will each get a vase of roses - magenta, pink, white, and whatever the hybrid teas offer.
The result will be a new blooming, especially with so much rain and so many earthworms under the mulch.
|Butterfly - by Norma Boeckler,|
our artist who loves gardening, butterflies, and birds.