|The little black Lantana berries should have given the plant away.|
The photo is from this blog Kasey's Korner - which I have linked on the left.
|The tiny flowers of Lantana open up like trumpets at first.|
Butterflies love this plant.
My tobacco farmer relatives on the German side had no idea why mulching with tobacco leaves was hurting the tomato plants. When I told them the plants were cousins and they were giving tomatoes tobacco wilt, I assumed the role of gardening genius. They also confessed to plowing up this weird plant with enormous roots - a beautiful stand of asparagus. Of course, asparagus is ferny late in the season, but we eat the spears that come up in the spring.
I saw this interesting plant at Walmart - on sale - and the gardening clerk could not identify it. The label was missing and two identical hanging plants were both reduced 50%. My verbal description failed to alert the readers - lacking a photo - so I decided to do research at Lowe's, where I had some more mulch waiting with my name on it.
The plant looked minty, and the leaves were fragrant. That did not help the readers. The tiny flowers were trumpet like at first and became black berries. That did not stir up an ID - only more requests for photos.
|Lantana with butterfly -|
Texas promotes smartscaping to preserve native plants and animals.
Lanatana - Another Butterfly Plant
This plant belongs to the Verbena family. The aromatic leaves make it unpleasant for deer and other pests, and birds eat the berries and plant them. The tiny flowers attract butterflies, so this is a great flower to add to the garden.
I bought the hanging basket because it was on sale. Those who like to hang plants should consider doing this for butterflies on the patio or deck.
People wonder where all the butterflies and ladybugs went as they spray their yards for mosquitoes. Lady Bird Johnson began beautification efforts which still benefit many areas, as people learn to plant native species and enjoy the wildflowers of their area.
Spraying for bugs will eliminate the 95% beneficial ones in order to eliminate the few that annoy and come back anyway.
I have noticed a direct connection between easy-to-grow plants - like Shasta Daisies and Lantana and Feverfew - and the growth of beneficial bugs in the garden. But of course, this requires study. The places where most plants can be bought are managed by the vendors (tomatoes out, lantanas in) but clerked by kids who know more about the Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto video games than they do about the plants they pretend to sell.
When we were tearing down the straw bales for my pitiful potato crop, Little Helper said, "Look, dad, watch out - a spider!" I said - "He won't harm you." The abundance of straw meant a great feeding zone for spiders and other beneficials. That environment was far too helpful for slugs, as I read about before, so I decided against it for the future.
Diversity of habitat allows for a diversity of creatures. Our language gives us away, even when people want to have their Tourette outbursts about evolution and global warming. Creatures are the product of Creation by the Word.
No greater lab can be found than the garden itself. Look at Lantana, the flower I never grew before - plant it and the butterflies will arrive to sip its nectar. The birds love the tiny berries, and the plant spreads to support even more butterflies.
Extra Floral Nectar - New To Me
EFN was entirely new to me when I read the Walliser book quoted below. Certain plants - with sunflowers as the champion - produce nectar outside the blooms, so it is called Extra Floral Nectar. This delightful sweet substance for insects attracts and feeds beneficial insects, often called natural enemies by Walliser.
EFN can be produced by members of many common plant families, including Rosaceae (roses, strawberries), Euphorbiaceae (euphorbias, poinsettias), Asteraceae (asters), Liliaceae (lilies), Fabaceae (peas, beans), Curbitaceae (squash, cucumbers, melons), and Asclepiadaceae (milkweed). In my garden I can readily spot EFN production sites on my elderberries, fruit trees, beautyberries, peonies, sunflowers, morning glories, impatiens, and hibiscus. EFN is, in fact, a very important extra nutrient source for natural enemies, especially when prey are scarce. Being on the lookout for EFN production sites on your own plants can lead to some interesting interactions with insects. As you can see, nectar isn’t nearly as simple as we think. Plants know what they are doing. They have evolved to intersect with the insects they rely on in many striking and spectacular ways. [Evolution Tourette alert]
Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 1488-1494). Timber Press. Kindle Edition.
EFN and tiny flowers are both important because they attract and feed the insects we want the most. A tiny insect cannot maneuver in the large flowers, but favors the small ones instead. Sunflowers are not really large flowers, but a massive gathering of tiny flowers arranged delightfully in Fibonaci spirals. Sunflowers are not content--something that goes along with plants knowing!--to have hundreds of tiny flowers - they also grow EFN outlets very early, so they are doing beneficial insect work even before they bloom.
That Massive Pile of Decomposing Straw
I have plans for the remains of the straw bale garden. The abundant growth of weeds only encouraged me, because strong weeds mean healthy soil - plus some extra weeding and muttering.
The Veterans Honor roses will move to a new circle around the maple tree, when they are dormant, late fall or early spring.
The raspberries will continue to grow and sprout in the heavily mulched area.
The bargain roses will serve as the sunny garden border. Two of them are the very tall and abundantly flowering Fireworks roses. They seemed gangly and annoying at first, but now in full bloom are exactly what their name suggests.
|Veterans Honor Rose.|