Monday, July 30, 2012

How I Deadhead Butterfly Bushes

I've mentioned in the past that once in awhile, I remember to look at my Statcounter, and one of the things I check on is what kind of searches people have done that led them to my blog.  Do you ever do that?  One of the most common ones is whether one can eat ornamental sweet potatoes.  Another is whether you can eat the stems and leaves of regular sweet potato plants.  I know you can, but don't know the details.  (Are the ornamental vines edible?)  If you have knowledge or experience cooking and eating them, please leave a comment and let us know.  I'd like to try them myself.  (I think I've seen finished dishes with them on FB or other blogs, but since I didn't try it then, I don't remember what I may have read.)

For some reason, maybe the words in the search, people have been coming to my blog trying to see if they can deadhead or cut back their butterfly bushes.  I took some photos of my second trim of the season so I could show how I do it.  I should mention that I am buying more and more plants that are native, and am avoiding plants that tend to spread farther than they should.  Butterfly bushes are considered invasive in some places, so this post is not an endorsement of growing them, and it may not even be the recommended way to take care of them, but it's how I do it.

I cut this back July 3rd because we have company on the Fourth, and there were a number of bees on the blooms close to where we walk back and forth between the front and back yards, and I wanted to insure the safety of both bees and humans.

There were both spent and new blooms on the bush. 

 I cut at the place next to where the new blooms or buds were.  I cut close to the base, but left a little bit.

This isn't the same one I cut in the previous photo, but if you look at the top two blooms, you can see one of the cuts I made in between them.   I see there is a cut I made on the right side of the photo as well. 

In some cases, I cut further back to make the bush a bit smaller.  Here are some buds that will be blooming soon.

I cut finished flowers off at any time in the season, sometimes a few at a time, and other times, I cut off stems that are sprawling.  I also cut some of the stems on the top left that were sticking up taller than the rest of the plant.  Someone else could probably shape this up better, but I am satisfied for now.

I pushed the stems down 3 times in this 5 gallon bucket.  These ended up on the compost pile.  I have never had this kind reseed. 

Here's a closer view.  No more brown blooms!

As I was about to put my things away, this skipper landed on a bloom.  I was pleased to see it.

If you have another way you deadhead or trim your butterfly bushes, feel free to share.  I normally use pruners instead of garden scissors, but these were handy and clean.  I clean my pruners and garden scissors with rubbing alcohol.

Happy Gardening!

Added a few minutes after publishing:

Well, I need to tell you something embarrassing.  I went back to see what other searches people have been doing when they ended up on my blog, because I forgot to do that before I published this.  I saw there was a link to the post where a person who did this search landed, and it was a September 2009 one, where I pretty much did the same post as this.  It's here, now, so I'll leave it.  I got a number of comments on that one, and most people said they do deadhead theirs. 

Oh, and many of the other searches have to do with folks looking for ideas for gardening in corners, which is because of my blog title.  Some also have looked for ideas for planting around fire hydrants.  LOL  I think it's cool that searches of individual plants have led to some of my photos, and then, the blog.  We need to be careful with that, though, because sometimes I have been a little off, or a different plant was shown in the search than what was supposed to.  I've noticed that with searches I've done, as well.

What searches lead folks to your blogs?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Nice Surprise

One of my favorite native flowers is Fremont's clematis, but when I first got a plant, I ended up planting it at church, and not at home.  Since figuring out how much I like it, I have found they are hard to find, and difficult to grow from seeds.  The flower bed it's in is surrounded by cement, and gets very little water.  I have tried planting its seeds here without success.  Last year, our local arboretum got some more, after not having them for a few years.  The ones I got are still small, and I was even wondering if they really are Fremont's clematis, because the leaves don't look quite the same to me.

This spring, I found some at Finke Garden's and Nursery that were nice sized, along with a nice sized price tag.  The man, who I think is one of the owners told me he grew them from the plants out front, and it takes awhile for them to get to that size.  Well, I splurged, knowing how hard it is to find these.  The plant at church has long been finished blooming for the season, so I was not expecting this one to bloom this year.   I was a little loud with my excitement this evening, just before a downpour of rain, but I managed to get a few photos taken, and wanted to put a couple in a post.  I may even go put a link on Gail's Wildflower Wednesday post, even though I already did one.

These plants stay in a short, bushy clump.

This may be a plant that looks better in person, but I think this is a sweet little bloom.  I hope my other ones get big enough to bloom next year.

I am thankful we ended up with half an inch of rain in our gauge between last night's tiny bit, and this evening's sudden arrival and departure.  There was even some small hail that I wasn't happy about.  Hey, and it is now 74 degrees, and is supposed to get down to 64!  A couple nights ago, it was still 90ish at this time.  I hope the cooler temps bring some relief to the farmers.  We still need more rain, though.

Have a great weekend!   We're going to a family reunion Saturday, a couple hours away.  After I garden in the morning, I need to come in and put together some food to take.  I got our kitchen floor swept and scrubbed today, after a yogurt container fell out and made a mess. 

Oh, and I just went to label this, and found I had done a couple posts on trying to grow it.  The leaves on the photo I had included in the first one are a little different from these, but it could be age of the plant, or growing conditions.  Here's a link to those posts.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wildflower Wednesday

I am mostly doing an update of the area where the tree used to be in the front yard for this month's wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail, of Clay and Limestone.  Most of the plants are native wildflowers.   I went out Sunday evening, and took over a hundred photos.  I was able to get them down to 50 some.

I've been putting photos of views from our front porch on Facebook.  A lot of the flowers for this post have been shown there recently.  The Joe Pye weed is tall and full of blooms.

The bees and wasps have been enjoying the blooms of the Joe Pye Weed.

This is a kind of mountain mint that I don't remember planting.  I wonder if it's a cross between a couple that I have.

Across the way, to the area where the tree used to be, here is one of three wild quinine plants.

The whorled milkweed plants have had a nice long bloom season.

I have two of these mallows that get a couple feet tall.

I seem to collect liatrises, but don't keep track of which is which.  I have spicata, aspera, punctata, and I think, scariosa and psyconostachya, all native to our area.  Not all are blooming yet, and the rabbits have eaten some down.  If you know which are which, feel free to help me out. (Added 4/14/13:  I'm pretty sure this is aspera.)

This one should be showing color in a few days.

I deadheaded the 2 Culver's root plants, and this one is blooming again.  It is one of the favorites of the bees and wasps.

This is the first of the three wild quinines that I planted, and I look forward to the other two growing to this size.  The bees and wasps like them, too.

The cup plant that I got from a plant sale some acquaintances had in their yard this spring is getting ready to bloom.  It has grown lots, and sent up a number of stems from the ground.  I have it near the front sidewalk.  I have a feeling I'll be doing some trimming to keep it from spreading and sticking out too far.

I took the little fence off to protect another plant the other day, but left the mesh, because I know the rabbits will eat the woodland phlox and phlox pilosa plants to the ground if I remove it.  I'm tickled they are growing again.

The monarda fistuala was quite the pollinator magnet, but the bloom time sure was short.  I will probably deadhead this, but am not sure how far down to go.  I see it has new growth from the ground.

The babtisia plant in the lower left had some genista moth caterpillars on it, as did the other ones in the yard.  I trimmed them back, and am hoping I don't find more. It looks like I caught them in time, but noticed there are more on some other plants that are related to these, so I need to get out and get those.  It's hard to see the tall, spindly plant that is leaning over the fence.  I'm going to show one of its blooms in the next photo. 

I don't remember planting this, and don't know what it is, but it may be a boltonia of some kind.

These switchgrasses are 'Prairie Wind', not native, but supposedly they don't spread as much.

 Walking on the path between the two grass clumps, there are a number of tall plants.  I think this is rigid goldenrod sprawling a bit.

It should be blooming soon.

The ironweed has been blooming awhile.

There are a couple clumps of this liatris.  They got very tall and stayed green awhile, but are now nice and purple, and the bees are loving them.  I am enjoying them with the gray headed coneflowers, which I've deadheaded once, so they aren't as tall and floppy as they had been.  (Added 4/14/13: I have been able to find various tags I had stuck in the ground near plants this spring.  This one is Liatris pycnostachya.  Someone wrote, "Eureka" on it with no puncuation, and after looking around, I found that this is a cultivar.  I need to keep reminding myself that I will not have prairie perfection.  If these flop a this much this year, I may decide to take them out.)


Oh, there are still a few stems that have not opened the blooms yet.  I think they are kind of cool in this stage, too.

This is a different, shorter liatris across the path.

It may be aspera.

I took a number of photos from the sitting area near the benches.  This is the wild senna plant I bought from the UNL Statewide Arboretum last year.

I've seen a number of bees on it each morning.  The other day, I counted 8 of them.

The rudbeckia maxima only had a few blooms this year, its second year here.  I hope to see hummingbirds on the agastache and black and blue salvia soon.  Oh, and I just read they like the wild senna as well.

I deadheaded one stalk of the rudbeckia maxima, but left this one.  I was hoping for more blooms, but it doesn't look like there will be any this year.  I like the look of the seedhead, though.

Purple coneflowers, beauty berry bush, pitcher sage and rattlesnake master are some of the plants in this photo. 

This spring, I moved the rattlesnake master from where it came up in the east bed, near the parent plant.  It is not as tall as the other, but I'm pleased it is blooming.

I have been planting native grasses around.  This one is blue grama.  This, and a few others, I got just a couple weeks ago, at buy one, get one free.  I cut each in half before planting, so I really got a great deal, but am needing to keep them watered since we're having 100 degree highs.  That's another liatris under the wire basket, which is keeping the rabbits from eating it.

I hosed the aphids off of the purple milkweed plant the other day, and noticed today, I need to again.  The 'Jim Crocket' aster is not native, but it is doing well here.  I recently found out it is named for the Crocket from The Victory Garden.  I remember watching that regularly.

We've been heading west, and now have turned, still facing west, but now going toward the north.  I'm not sure why, but this wild senna, next to the tub, has gotten very tall and bushy, but is not continuing to bloom like the other one is.  Behind the bench trellis is a Joe Pye weed that had volunteered in the east bed.  Like the rattlesnake master, it is blooming at a shorter height than the parent plant.  I have one more volunteer I need to find a spot for or give away next spring.

The gooseneck loosestrive in the tub has gotten stressed and dry a few times, but is hanging in there.

This is the wine cup plant that is under the bench trellis the pot of gooseneck loosestrife is on.  The plant has been sending a number of runners around, which do not seem to be taking root anywhere.  I planted a white blooming one across the way, under the chair, but it is slow growing.

This yarrow, 'Terricotta' is not native, but it is one that I moved from another part of the yard, and I like it in this spot so far.

Facing north, the liatris here may be 'Kobold' that I got before knowing about the native kinds, but they are volunteers from the curb bed that I moved this spring, so they could have mixed with the native ones I've had around for awhile in other areas.  The little red blooms are heleniums, 'Ruby Tuesday'.  The yellow blooms are rudbeckia 'Goldquelle'.  All of these are plants that I moved from other parts of the yard, and are not native.  The honeysuckle on the left was given to me by a neighbor when we first moved in.

We are now heading back toward the east.  I sure like the gray headed coneflowers, even though I've been tying them up to keep them from flopping.  I tied this clump of liatris, too.

These flower heads do not look gray to me so far.

Turning a bit to the south, have I mentioned I like the gray headed coneflowers and liatris together?  There are more of these coneflowers heading closer to the fence.  (The vine on the light is what I call Larry's weird sweet potato plant that he chose a number of years ago.  I had planted a clematis on there, too, but it died after a few years, so the sweet potato won.  I have been having to pull out a number of the sweet potato plants out now that there is no lawn that gets mowed around it.)

There are a couple little bluestem grasses in this area that are starting to bloom.  The wild quinine here is smaller than the other two.  The dried up phlox will probably have to come out.  I want to plant native larkspur in this area.  (Those are the leaves of the wild quinine on the right.)

We'll take a brief look at the area on the south side of the fence, closer to where a sidewalk would be.  I am having trouble filling in the spaces.  I hope everything grows larger next year.  You can see there are a number of plants the rabbits have been eating, and the wire baskets are now protecting them.  This switchgrass is 'heavy metal'.

This little bluestem was in a larger pot than the other ones, and it continues to be larger.  I am excited to see the blooms coming up.  All were planted last year.

The Mexican hat plants that I put in this year are doing well. 

The gray headed coneflowers are in sort of a diagonal row, which ends on this side of the fence.

Here's another liatris.  I can't remember what the plant behind it is, but it is nice to have some plants that have not bloomed yet.

Here's the view from the other side.  The big bushy plant is a euphorbia of some kind.  Behind it, and to the right, is the native switchgrass I decided to try, even though it can supposedly be aggressive.  It's hard to see, but is starting to bloom, and is shorter than the others I planted.  It doesn't look to be spready, so maybe it spreads by self sowing.

The gentians have been blooming for awhile. 

Here's one more view from the front porch. The orange blooming Mexican sunflower is not native, but is an annual I plant because the monarch butterflies like it.

Here's a photo of the black eyed Susans from the curb bed.  The goldenrod, which I don't think is a native one is about to bloom again after having been deadheaded recently.

I forgot to take a photo of the black eyed Susans growing in the vegetable garden.  I'm thinking about moving some to the front yard, but am not sure if I want to keep all the self sown ones in check.  Do you grow black eyed Susans?

At 9:03 p.m. CDT, it is currently 95 degrees.  In a couple days, it looks like we'll have a string of highs in the 90s, which I guess I'm looking forward to.  Some 80s would be OK with me.  I hope we get some rain soon.

I am looking forward to seeing what wildflowers others have this month.  I hope you are able to spend some time in your gardens in all this heat most of us are having.