Archive | Gardening Tips

Butterfly Host Plants

Host plants are the plants that butterflies like to lay their eggs on. These are the plants that caterpillars feed off of while they’re growing, and may also provide a place for the caterpillars to make their cocoons.

These plants may receive some damage, so be prepared for that. It’s surprising how many people plant these things with the specific purpose of attracting butterflies to lay their eggs there, yet they’re shocked with the caterpillars start to eat the plants!

Caterpillars are small and slow. They can’t travel very far in search of food, so butterflies generally only lay their eggs on plants where they know the caterpillars can survive. If they lay their eggs on the wrong type of plant, the caterpillars will probably not live.

You may be a bit disturbed at first to willingly allow “pests” to chomp on your garden plants. If you’re bothered by the sight of plants with holes in them, you might want to locate your host plants in a location that is a bit less visible.

Make sure you provide these host plants nearby the nectar-providing plants. If they are located too far away, you will probably end up with fewer butterflies in your garden. Now we’ll take a look at some of the most popular butterflies and which plants you’ll need to have as host plants if you wish to have the chance to have these particular butterflies in your garden.

Having these host plants doesn’t guarantee you’ll have any of these butterflies, but it certainly increases your odds! Monarch butterflies are one of the most popular and well-known butterflies. If you don’t know what monarch butterflies are, they’re those medium-sized orange and black butterflies. They only lay their eggs on milkweed. If you want monarch butterflies to visit your yard, then you must have milkweed available.

Black swallowtails are those giant yellow and black butterflies. I think everyone in the U.S. has probably seen these! They’re very large and noticeable. They lay their eggs on dill, carrots, parsley, and fennel. You’ll see these around a lot of herb and vegetable gardens.

European cabbage butterflies and white cabbage butterflies lay their eggs on cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables. They enjoy cabbage, mustard greens, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables in the cabbage and mustard families.

Eastern tiger swallowtails lay their eggs on sycamore and willow trees. If you have these trees in your yard, you’ve probably seen their fat, green caterpillars. Painted lady butterflies are very popular. They are orange, black, and white, and look a bit like the monarch butterfly. Painted ladies lay their eggs on plants such as thistle, hollyhock, and sunflower.

The spicebush swallowtail is a very interesting butterfly. Its caterpillars are quite scary looking, as they appear to have a large, frightening face! They lay their eggs on spice bushes and sassafras trees. If you want to have these crazy looking little critters in your lawn, be sure to plant some of these spicy trees!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Flower Gardening

The first thing you need to do is learn a little bit about flowers in general. You need to learn the difference between annuals and perennials, for example. Annuals need to be replanted every year, but perennials keep blooming year after year.

Always be sure to plan your flower garden carefully. You must choose flowers that will grow well in your area. You need to plan the location carefully, so your flowers get just the right amount of sun and shade for that variety. You also need to be sure your plants don’t get too much water, but they also need to receive enough.

If your soil is sandy, you should add some compost and peat moss, because sandy soil won’t hold moisture very well. If you have clay soil, you’ll have to add some sand and compost to encourage better drainage. Compost is very, very important for any garden. Compost helps provide nutrients, and it also sets up an ideal drainage condition.

Be sure not to plant your flowers to deep. If you plant flowers too deeply, the water might end up draining away before it can reach the plant’s roots. Flowers don’t do well if they’re planted too deeply.

You should plant perennials and annuals together. Perennials will bloom every year. After a growth period during the spring and summer, they usually die during the winter, and they come back up the next spring.
Annuals only bloom for a single season. Perennials are usually grouped into early, mid, and late season bloomers. By planting a wide variety of these in your garden, you can be sure to have blooms all year long.
Every summer you’ll need to start clipping off dead blossoms. This is very important for annuals, especially. If you clip off dead blooms, annuals will bloom even more. Be sure to throw the clipped blossoms out far away from your garden so you don’t spread any diseases.
You should work to make sure you have some good beneficial insects in your garden. Not all insects are bad! Butterflies, bees, and beetles are critical to flower gardens for pollination. Your flowers won’t do very well without being pollinated!
Ladybugs, mantis, lacewings, dragonflies, and other insects help kill harmful insects. These insects prey upon other bugs like aphids, which can be hard to get rid of. You want to encourage beneficial insects to visit your garden and stay there.
Remember to plan your garden carefully from the start. You can’t exactly move your flowers around very easily, so it’s critical to plan right from the start. You want to be sure to choose flowers in colors that complement each other.
You could group white, blue, and purple together. You could group pink and red. You could group red, yellow, and orange. You can add white to any color scheme, and red also goes well with almost any color. Color scheming is extremely important in flower gardens, because appearance is one of the most important parts of a flower garden.

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Types of Organic Fertilizers and Compost

Fertilizing your plants may not be quite as simple as it would be if you used chemicals in your garden. Chemical fertilizers are certainly convenient. Most of them come in a form that only needs to be mixed with water and sprayed onto plants. But organic gardeners need a good, organic way of fertilizing their plants.

You need to pay careful attention to the package if you’re going to purchase a pre-made organic fertilizer. Some of them are high in one of the major plant nutrients, but low in the other two. Plants generally need nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash. You should research which of these nutrients your particular plants need, so you can purchase the correct type.

Some common types of organic fertilizers include blood meal, fish emulsion, cottonseed meal, compost, manure, and seaweed fertilizer. Many of these can be purchased, but a lot of them can also be made at home.

You must be careful to fertilize when the ground is warm enough. Organic fertilizers need organisms in the soil to break them down and release the nutrients they contain. So the soil needs to be warm and moist so the organisms in the soil will be active.

Cottonseed meal is one common organic fertilizer. It’s a byproduct of the cotton manufacturing process. It is great for acid-loving plants, because it has an acidic reaction in the soil. It generally contains about 7% nitrogen, 3% phosphorous, and 2% potash. Cottonseed meal is usually used for flowering plants like azaleas and rhododendrons.

Fish emulsion is a very popular organic fertilizer. It is made of a blend of decomposed fish. It is a high-nitrogen fertilizer, and also contains a lot of trace elements than can be very beneficial for plants. Fish emulsion is a nice, balanced fertilizer.

Blood meal is the blood of cattle that is collected from slaughterhouses and then dried and powdered. It is high in nitrogen, and care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t burn plants. You should be very careful not to exceed the recommended dose, because this could really harm your plants. Blood meal is also high in several trace elements like iron.

Manure is a well-balanced fertilizer, but it is relatively low in the nutrients it contains. It’s a very popular fertilizer, but it just isn’t high enough in these important nutrients to make it a viable choice for home gardeners.

Seaweed fertilizer in the form of a seaweed tea is often used by organic gardeners. Dried seaweed is added to water and steeped like tea, then applied to plants like other liquid fertilizers. This can be a very good fertilizer, and won’t burn plants. It is very high in nutrients. Use a dried seaweed, and be sure it’s not roasted or seasoned.

Some people use sewer sludge for their fertilizer. It’s made from recycled material from sewage treatment plants. You can purchase activated sludge, which is higher in nutrients, and you can buy composted sludge, which isn’t quite as good.

It is generally found in a granular form. There is some concern over the safety of sewage sludge, because it can contain buildups of heavy metals like cadmium. This can build up in the soil in potentially harmful levels.

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Why Container Gardening Is The Best Way to Grow Plants

Container gardening has so many benefits, it’s hard to believe more people aren’t doing it. Although it has become more popular over the past couple of decades, it still isn’t as popular as many other methods.

One of the biggest benefits of growing your plants in containers is the fact that it makes gardening accessible to almost anyone. Handicapped individuals find growing their plants in containers makes it easier to locate plants where they can easily reach them.

Many people in wheelchairs like to place their pots on a low table to make them more accessible. Elderly people who can’t work traditional gardens may find container gardening to be an excellent way to once again enjoy their favorite hobby.

Even children find container gardening to be much easier than traditional gardening, because they don’t have to weed and rake and hoe, and they don’t have to have an adult till soil for them.
Another major benefit of container gardening is the ability to move plants if you need to.

If you’re growing your plants outdoors and bad weather comes, you can bring your plants inside where they’ll be safe. If you plan your garden poorly and your plants are getting too little sun or too much, you can easily move their containers to a better location. And you can even move your plants on a whim if you decide they’d look better elsewhere.

Plants grown in containers don’t have the same issues with diseases that traditionally-grown plants have. Although some container-grown plants do get diseases, it is far less likely than it would be if those plants were grown directly in the soil. Potting soil is generally free of disease-causing organisms, so your plants will be safer.

Keeping your plants well-fed is also easier when they’re grown in containers. It’s much easier to ensure the fertilizer you use gets to your plants if they’re confined to a small area of soil. When you fertilize plants that are growing directly in the soil, the fertilizer may drain away or be absorbed by other nearby plants. This is not as likely when plants are grown in containers.

Of course, when the soil area is relatively small, there is a chance the fertilizer can be washed out of the soil faster. Because of this, you do often need to fertilize more often than you would a traditional garden.

But you can rest assured that your plants are probably getting more of the fertilizer before it does wash away than they would probably get if they were in the ground. When you grow your plants in containers, you’ll also be able to extend their growing season.

By carefully insulating pots by wrapping them in blankets or other insulating materials, you can keep their soil warmer than the ground soil. You can start your plants early indoors or in a cold frame, then you can easily move them to larger pots outdoors when the time is right.

You can also use careful insulation to continue to grow plants after the first frost, and you can even bring plants indoors once it becomes too cold to keep them outside even when insulated. Saving space is another great benefit of container gardening.

Many people live in apartments or in homes with very little yard space. Container gardening allows you to have a garden on a porch or patio, or even indoors. Many people have small container gardens in a sunny windowsill in their kitchen, or in a sunroom or spare bedroom.

Some people even grow plants in a closet by using a grow light! Growing plants in pots really makes it easy to have a garden when you don’t have the space for a traditional one!

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Benefits of Organic Gardening

Droves of people are turning to organic produce as a way to feel safer about the foods they eat. People are worried about the foods they put into their bodies. With all of the reports of food poisoning from fruits and vegetables, many people are worried about what they’re eating.

We now know just how dangerous all of those chemicals that we spray plants on can be, too. Many chemicals have been banned because they were shown to cause cancer! But some of these dangerous chemicals have not yet been banned, and there may be plenty of hidden dangers that haven’t yet been discovered.

When you garden organically, you can feel safer about the food you eat. You’ll know that the food you’re feeding your family is safer and healthier than the questionable stuff you find in the grocery store. You and your family deserve to eat food that won’t give you all cancer!

Organic gardening is also extremely beneficial to the environment for several reasons. For one thing, every time you spray your plants with chemicals, those chemicals wash off of your plants and onto the ground. From there, those chemicals wash down into the ground, and eventually make it into the groundwater!

When the insects on your plants are poisoned, they can be eaten by birds or other animals. These animals can then become sick and die. If the toxicity was high enough, any animals that eat those animals might also perish. This can have a very strong environmental impact.

By killing too many of a certain species of insect, you can also cause an imbalance in the local wildlife. If you and your neighbors kill off a large portion of the population of one insect, then anything that depends on that insect for food might also start to die off.

Then anything that depends on the second species for food might start to die. This could spin out of control if the problem became too widespread. This is unlikely, but it’s not impossible. Organic produce is also known for its superior flavor.

For example, organic carrots are widely known for being much sweeter than traditionally-grown carrots. They don’t have the same bitterness that other carrots can have. This is a very good reason to grow your produce organically, even if you aren’t worried about the chemical effects to your body and the environment.

There are obviously a few drawbacks to gardening organically, too. You have to deal with pests differently, and it can be a longer and more complex process to rid your plants of certain pests. Instead of picking up some chemicals, you have to pick off insects by hand and drop them into soapy water.

You have to spray your plants with solutions made of things like hot peppers and garlic to prevent some bugs from eating them. It can be difficult. You also have to stick to organic fertilizers, rather than using easy chemical fertilizers.

But organic fertilizers can actually be cheaper, because you can make them yourself. Fish emulsion is a common organic fertilizer. It’s a sort of tea made from dead fish. Seaweed fertilizer is another tea-like fertilizer that many organic gardeners swear by.

And of course there’s natural compost that can help you make use of your kitchen waste! The benefits of organic gardening far outweigh the few drawbacks. It may be a bit more work, but it is so rewarding!

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Popular Flowers for Flower Gardens

The flowers you choose for your flower garden will be based largely on personal preference, but you should also consider the rest of the plants in your landscape. Flowers should blend in well with the surrounding plants. Also, you should be aware of the different meanings and symbolisms of popular flowers.

The most popular flower in the world is probably the rose. The rose is known around the world as a symbol of love and beauty. It’s been mentioned in plays, songs, and poetry. The red rose is especially romantic.

Other rose colors have different meanings. Yellow stands for happiness. White is for sincerity and innocence. Pink is a color that says, “Thank you.” Peach roses mean deal closing and optimism.

The lily is a very popular type of flower. The color and type of lily make a big difference to their meaning. Calla lilies are a symbol of beauty. White lilies symbolize purity. Tiger lilies symbolize wealth and pride. Beware of orange lilies – they symbolize hatred!

Daisies are quite popular. Gerbera daisies are extremely popular in flower gardens right now. Daisies stand for innocence, purity, and kindness. Lilacs are very popular for weddings, because they symbolize new love. They’re also a very popular flower to give to new parents, because they symbolize the first love between a parent and a child.
Tulips are a beautiful flower. They come in bold colors, and they have a look that is very unique. Tulips generally signify fame and romance. Red tulips are meant for a declaration of love or passion. Yellow tulips signify hopeless love.
Orchids are a very exotic flower. In China, orchids are generally used to symbolize numerous children. In other cultures, orchids stand for love and refinement. Carnations are meant to signify health and energy, but the color makes a difference in the message.
Pink carnations are used to tell someone you’ll never forget them. Red is for true love and admiration. White carnations show innocence and pure love. Yellow carnations symbolize rejection or hatred.
Pansies are tasty, edible flowers that are often added to salads. They can also be used to decorate cakes. They symbolize loving thoughts. Daffodils are meant to show regard and respect, but also unrequited love.
Marigolds aren’t a good flower for happy gardens. They stand for grief, jealousy, anger, hatred, and cruelty. But they can also give comfort to the grieving. Violets generally stand for modesty, but the color does make a difference. Blue violets stand for faithfulness, loyalty, and watchfulness. White violets symbolize taking a chance on something, especially a relationship.

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Dealing with Pests in an Organic Garden

The biggest problem organic gardeners face is dealing with pests. An infestation of aphids or cutworms can absolutely devastate a garden! You can have an entire row of plants wiped out in days, or even hours.

It’s important to try to prevent infestations, rather than just treating them once they occur. You can do this by spraying your plants with solutions that deter many of the most common garden pests.

There are many organic solutions available, but you can make your own by using recipes that can be found in most organic gardening books. Most of them will be sort of like a tea, made with things like hot pepper sauce and garlic.

When you can, you should try to plant species that are native to the area in which you live. These plants have natural immunity to many common diseases in the area. There are also plants that are pest-resistant, and won’t have as many problems with pests as other varieties.

If you plant early enough, you may be able to avoid the worst part of the bug season. Insects have just a short period of each year in which they will be active and eating your plants. If you plant early, you may be able to harvest before those insects terrorize your plants.

You should do everything you can to encourage natural insect predators like ladybugs, praying mantis, ground beetles, and birds. Some types of plants like mint and rosemary can attract many beneficial bugs that can help you keep other insects under control.

You should keep a close eye on your plants to spot potential problems before they get out of control. If you see a hornworm on your tomato plants, pluck it off quickly and drown it in soapy water. By watching your plants daily, you have a chance to stop these problems before they become too difficult to handle.

If you’re having trouble with a particular pest, you can take pictures and then try to identify the pest. Go online and try to search for it. If you can’t identify it, you can take your pictures to your local county extension office or library and ask for help identifying it.

Once you’ve identified the pest, you can ask your extension office for advice with regards to controlling it. Just be sure to tell them you’re an organic gardener, and ask them if they have any ideas for you.
You may be able to prevent some pests by installing netting over your plants. Although this is probably a last resort, you may be able to save your plants from utter devastation if you have a particularly bad season of beetles or other such bugs.
Just remember, netting will also prevent beneficial insects from reaching your plants, so if some pests make it through, it may be harder to detect them and for predator insects to control them.
Pest control is a very difficult part of organic gardening.
If you lose a crop to insects, you may be tempted to abandon organic gardening and rush out to buy a chemical spray. A lot of organic gardeners experience this! Don’t feel bad. It can certainly be very frustrating to deal with pests, especially when you’ve worked very hard to take care of your plants all season.
But just remember, organic gardening has so many benefits that it’s really worth it to go through all of the extra work. Your family will be rewarded with healthy food that is safe to eat!

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Gardening in Small Spaces

An effective garden doesn’t mean it has to be huge and hold tons of plants. Not everyone has the space for a garden like that, but they can grow thriving plants in a small area as long as there’s access to sunlight.

Gardens have grown in many places – from a small patch of ground outside of a home to planting pots placed outside one’s front door. The size of your garden doesn’t matter because it’s the quality of your gardening skills that will provide you with thriving plants.

You’ll want to research the plants you want to grow within your garden. Find out what plants can be planted near each other, which ones need the most sunlight and any care instructions needed to grow a particular type of plant.

This will help you plan the placement of your garden, whether you plant in a small patch of land or in planters. Next, you’ll need to find out when each plant should be planted. Some need to be planted ahead of others, so plan accordingly.

Now you’re ready to purchase the plants or seeds, whichever you choose to grow in your garden. Make sure you have the right size planters for your garden if you go with gardening pots. The plants need some space to grow, so don’t overcrowd them.

Make sure you use top quality potting soil. Your plants could use the extra effort to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Your local gardening center can help you decide which soil would be best for you to use.

Even gardens grown in small areas will have problems with insects that feed on your plants, so make sure you purchase plants that are inviting to the insects that will keep the harmful ones under control so they won’t have time to destroy your garden.

Some fertilizing soil has ingredients mixed in that will help repel some of the pests, so check them out as well. If you feel you must use pesticides, use them sparingly. Most of these harmful chemicals can affect the plants as well as animals and children, so use only what’s absolutely necessary for your garden.

Every garden, no matter if it’s big or small, needs to be nurtured. Stay on top of the weeds, aerate the soil once in awhile and water as often as needed. No garden will thrive without the proper care and nurturing from the gardener, so don’t neglect them.

Small gardens can thrive just as much as larger ones, so if you don’t have the space for a big garden, just make use of the space you do have and grow healthy and robust plants. With the proper care, any garden can produce excellent plants.

Take the time to plan out your garden to use the best areas of the small space that you have. Your small garden could then outmatch any large one if you put forth your best effort and make it successful.

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Protecting Your Flowers from Diseases

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 can be attacked by all sorts of things, 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 difficult to kill, because they reproduce through spores that can spread very quickly. 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 need to work hard to get rid of a fungal infection completely so it won’t 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. Bacteria is often spread through things like overhead watering that causes water to splash up onto plants. Bacteria often get into a cut stem or leaf, so you should watch for damage to your plants.

Viruses can’t multiply 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 most important thing to do to take care of your sick flowers is to properly diagnose the problem. You can use 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.
If 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. Don’t automatically go for those fungicides and chemicals, because you can often treat your problems organically.
Some flowers are more delicate than others. Roses, for example, 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.

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Planning Your Container Garden

The first thing you need to decide when planning a container garden is whether you’d prefer to grow your plants indoors or outdoors. A lot of people think container gardening is only for indoor growing and patios, but containers can actually be useful for any garden situation.

Containers are great for growing almost any type of plant, because they offer great versatility. If you plant your garden in containers and you need to move it later, it’s easy to do it. Not so if you have a traditional garden!

If you’re expecting very bad weather, you can temporarily move containers to a safer location, like indoors or into a garage or basement. But there isn’t much you can do for a traditional garden.

If you find your plants aren’t doing well because the space you chose is too sunny or too shady, there isn’t much you can do with a traditional garden, but you can easily move potted plants to a better location.

If you choose to have your container garden outdoors, you need to be sure to choose a good location for it. You’ll want to choose a place that has the proper amount of sun for the plants you wish to grow, but it also needs to be a place that’s very accessible. It’s easy to lose motivation to work on your garden if it’s several hundred yards away from the house!

Be sure to locate your plants as far away from streets as you can. Pollution from cars, as well as the dust they kick up, can damage your plants and contaminate them. You don’t want to be eating all of that pollution, so locate plants as far away from those roads as possible.

If you have your plants indoors, you’ll need to be sure to select a very good spot. Most plants need to be fairly warm, so you’ll need to choose the warmest spot in your house if you use air conditioning.

Many plants won’t do well in very chilly homes, so you might need to choose a room for your plants and keep the vent closed in that room so it stays warmer there. If you can, choose a sunny room with a lot of natural sunlight.

Plants thrive best with natural light. If you don’t have a room with a lot of sunlight, you’ll have to use special plant lights for your plants. You can’t use just any fluorescent lights, because plants won’t thrive.

You need to use lights that are specially designed for growing plants. They contain a broad spectrum of light, which is closer to natural light than standard bulbs. You may also have to adjust the humidity in the room with your plants.

Some plants thrive better in higher humidity, and others do well in lower humidity. You may need to invest in special equipment to adjust the humidity if you’re raising very delicate or picky plants. You probably won’t have to do this unless you’re growing exotic varieties.

Next, you’ll need to choose which plants you want to grow. Be careful! Too many people choose to plant far too many varieties, and end up frustrated. Don’t grow anything you can easily pick up cheaply at the grocery store!

Stick to growing fruits and vegetables that you really enjoy and have a hard time locating locally, or those you find too expensive or too low quality. Tomatoes are a favorite for home gardeners, because their quality in stores if often very poor.

Finally, decide whether or not you want to grow your plants organically. If you’re growing indoors, this will probably be very simple to do. But if you’re growing your plants outside, you may find the frustration of dealing with pests is just too much for you. Don’t feel guilty if you find organic gardening too difficult. You can always try it after you have more experience.

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