Butterfly Tip: Weed Not Want Not

Butterfly on Clover Butterfly Tip: Weed Not Want Not

Butterflies are uber popular right now it the gardening world,  and from decorations to special garden plots especially designed to attract them, there are a myriad of ways to get your butterfly fix in the garden!  You can try things like adding butterfly friendly water features to your yard, or planting shade trees that act as a host for their eggs, but one of the most butterfly friendly things you can do in your garden plot is a cheap “fix” you’re going to love.  NO WEEDING!

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Easy Step-By-Step Flower Arranging Tips: Make The Perfect Bouquet Every Time!

Flower Arranging Easy Step By Step Flower Arranging Tips: Make The Perfect Bouquet Every Time!

Photo Courtesy of: karpacious

What do Flowers, Scotch Tape, Hand Pruners, and Scissors have in common?  Well, they’re all tools of the trade for Michael Penny, contributor to Canadian House & Home, when he shows you how to create the perfect bouquet every time!

You don’t have to have a degree in floristry to create eye catching displays around the house, and you don’t have to stray from your budget either.  Michael Penny gives brief step-by-step instructions on how to make beautiful bouquets with just the tools and vases you have at home.  Check out his article Flower Arranging 101 for a quick tutorial, and get ready to have killer floral accents around your house no matter the season!

Thanks for sharing Michael, your bouquets look amazing!

Pond Tips Q and A: From Algae to Eco-Pond Liners

IMG 2608 Pond Tips Q and A: From Algae to Eco Pond Liners

Ronnie Citron-Fink of Care 2.com and I got together last week to do a ‘Q and A’ roundup of common questions regarding pond care and maintenance.  I’ve come up with some great tips and advice for her readers in “Pond Secrets: Create Vibrant, Healthy Ponds With The Green Gardenista,” tackling issues like algae, pond design, fish choices, and eco-friendly pond liners.

Looking for some tips and encouragement?  Read our interview, and follow Ronnie’s own pond and garden adventures as she “goes green” in her own neighborhood!

Fruits And Veggies You Can Safely Plant In Your Yard In Early Spring

Rhubarb Fruits And Veggies You Can Safely Plant In Your Yard In Early Spring3712121307 4907200bec m 150x150 Fruits And Veggies You Can Safely Plant In Your Yard In Early SpringAsparagus 150x150 Fruits And Veggies You Can Safely Plant In Your Yard In Early SpringStrawberry 150x150 Fruits And Veggies You Can Safely Plant In Your Yard In Early Spring

A little cold weather won’t bother these toughies!  To get  jump start on your fruit and vegetable garden move young or indoor grown seedlings of Rhubarb, Blackberry, Asparagus, and Strawberry plants outside in March.   These plants can thrive outdoors in the fickle temperatures of early Spring, and be ready for harvest quickly.

Quick Tips:

  • Rhubarb grown in colder climates will be harvest ready in April or May, or in the Fall if planted later.  When grown in the southern areas of the USA or in the Southern Hemisphere it can be grown year round for pies and jellies.
  • Blackberries, and Strawberries will be harvest ready in the June through October window with regular picking.  As with most berries, picking off a few fruits or flower buds before maturation will reduce the competition between the ovaries, and provide you with fewer, but much larger fruit.
  • Asparagus doesn’t take up much room during the planting and harvesting stage, but from mid to late summer when it needs to be allowed to fill out and produce berries, it can be a total garden hog!  Make sure to plant this delicious beast somewhere where its loose fern shape won’t offend your garden scheme, or impede pathways.  Garden centers advise that a three year old plant is the most reliable producer, so don’t  plan on instant gratification with this favorite gourmet veggie.  For long term success, it’s best to leave the plant alone for a few years to allow it to really take to root in your veggie patch.
Photo’s Courtesy of:  cygnus921, Rob Ireton, ^riza^

Roses: When To Begin Spring Pruning


img 0050 225x300 Roses: When To Begin Spring PruningEarly spring is the perfect time to do large scale cut backs on your rose bushes to encourage new growth, and a bush full of blooms!

The key to spring pruning is to trim just as the plant is budding and waking up from its winter dormancy. A bush that has grown “leggy” over the course of several years can be trimmed all the way back to about 8 inches in height at this time safely to encourage a fuller plant. The best way to identify your spring window of opportunity is to watch the blooming of the Forsythia plants for your cue.

Rose breeders recommend trimming your roses when Forsythias are blooming, usually at the end of March. Although roses will bloom through the summer and fall, the heaviest pruning and shaping of the plant should be done at the beginning of the growing season, when the cool temperatures, and lack of insects make pruning wounds easy to recover from. 

Successful Pruning

When considering your rose bush  for pruning, identify any “woody” stems on the plant that are giving the plant height, but reduced bloom production, and place these on the top of you list for pruning. Even an aging plant with dead sections can benefit from strong pruning in the spring to encourage new shoots to emerge from the roots.  

Most roses can benefit from a heavier pruning every few years to encourage blooming, and to keep the plant full and pliable. If your roses have had more bare stems than fruitful branches with leaves and buds in the past few years, your bush is ripe for a spring pruning. If you are hesitant to trim the whole plant at once, select a few feeder stems and prune them heavily to within 6-10 inches of the ground.

Spring thinning and pruning will rejuvenate your plants and soon have you reaping the benefits of a far healthier plant.

A Tip To Rev-Up Liriope For Spring

img 0585 271x300 A Tip To Rev Up Liriope For Spring

Spring is still a few weeks away, but March is a great time to trim back any Liriope plants that you have in your yard! March is typically when I trim Liriope beds in formal landscape designs, since it forces the plants to jumpstart for the spring, and gets rid of last years yellowing or dead growth. In spots with heavy Liriope concentration, I recommend mowing the plant with a lawn mower down to about one inch in height, like you see here, to neaten the plant. Repeated mowing over the years also encourages the individual plants to grow in thicker before spreading thither and yon through your yard. Try this tip out this spring, and see if you can’t encourage a healthier plant in your landscape.

Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

ground hog trap barley balls fish water ponds 010 225x300 Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Garden

Going “green” with your backyard pond this year can mean a cleaner conscience, and a cleaner pond!  Of course, no one likes a green pond, when the “green” we are talking about is string algae, and pond scum!  Aside from taking away from the aesthetics of your tranquil oasis, dealing with algae means constant additions of safe chemicals that won’t harm your pond plants and fish, and cleaning both filters and rocks on a regular basis.

After years of balancing the chemical ratios in several of the ponds that I oversee professionally, and struggling to keep algae under control in a few ponds that were constructed poorly, I finally made the switch to Barley Bales  Using Barley Bales to Get Rid of Algae in Your Pond or Water Gardenthis past summer, and I’m never looking back.  While I am always looking for cleaner and greener products, I confess, most often I’m just looking for a product that makes life easier!  Barley Bales are a long lasting, fish and plant safe, chemical alternative, for keeping algae out of your pond or water-garden.

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How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The Summer

geraniums How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The SummerThe smell of geraniums reminds me of my parents house when I was growing up.  The summer was always rung in with potted Geraniums on the front porch, and winter found those same plants waiting out the cold temperatures inside my parents bathroom, perching beside the soaking tub.

One of the great things about geraniums is that fact that they are constant bloomers when they receive enough water, and are pruned on a regular basis.  Having compound flower heads with multiple blooms on them, spent flowers can be pinched off singularly as they age, to keep a few flowers visible.  When an entire stem of blooms begins to look sparse, or is past it’s peak, the best thing to do to encourage more blooms is to remove the entire flower stem. With Geraniums, no tools are needed to efficiently remove dying flowers, and the method I suggest will also eliminate the unsightly dead, or dying stem left from using Pruning Shears.

geranium stem 002 225x300 How To: Prune Geranium Flowers For The SummerEvery Geranium flower stem has a large elbow at the base of it where it joins the main stem of the plant, on occasion, a flower stem will have an “elbow” half way up a flower stem as well (this usually happens in plants that have grown very tall, to maximize their exposure to the sun).  These elbows snap off easily with little pressure, to neatly and efficiently prune the plant in a way that the Geranium can heal from quicker than from pruning with shears.  Pruning entire stems at once encourages more vigorous growth of the plant, and cuts back the time between blooming flower heads.

Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or Patio

img 0067 300x225 Tips to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden, Yard or PatioWhile butterflies may not be the most important or efficient pollinators (in terms of how much work they can accomplish in a garden), they can easilly be one of the most visually beautiful and enjoyable creatures in your garden. If you like seeing a multitude of these beauties in your garden, there are a few simple tricks you can do to secure a long term stay of summer butterflies around your yard. I’ve picked up a lot of little tricks while creating several “Backyard Habitats,” and this is the first tip I want to share with you!

Once mating season begins for the male butterflies, their life is one completely centered around finding mates, and perching to rest before looking for more mates! Male butterflies can scent an eligible female from a distance of up to one mile, and will expend most of their energy searching for and securing mates. While females generally mate once, males mate many times. In areas where males are few, they may exhaust themselves satisfying the local female population who become more aggressive in their need to reproduce, once they sense the lack of healthy partners. One of the keys to attracting pollinators (and butterflies in general) is plant selection. You want to build inviting areas for nectar drinking, perching, and hopefully egg laying. To create an area that attracts those busy male butterflies, provide an area that will meet the needs of the females, while creating a place that the male can relax and restock on the nutrients he is losing in the mating process.

The two most important steps to take for attracting male butterflies to your pollinator garden are this:

  1. Provide a separate water source that is protected from birds. Either a short bird bath, a ceramic dish, or a pot’s catch basin will suffice. A quiet water source for these busy creatures will become a basking location, and a place for a quick drink in between all the nectar sipping. Nectar does not meet most of the nutritional needs of butterflies, so males generally congregate around the edges of ponds and streams to drink and absorb the important minerals contained in the sand and soil, that they need to keep up their energy. You can provide this nutritional necessity for them in your yard, to complete your butterfly haven, and to secure long term visitation of the male.
  2. Provide a sandy spot, or an artificial stream bed in your yard for the males to absorb the minerals and nutrients lost in their exertions. Sand can be transported from a local stream to your yard, or it can be purchased cheaply at your local garden center. What I have done in the past is to buy a bag of sand, and to fill a large aluminum cookie tin with it. I place the cookie tin in the ground, with the lip of the tin, and the sand roughly at mulch, or dirt level. Male butterflies have never failed to approach these areas to rest, and revive after a hard days work. I have found also that an excellent side benefit to having an artificial stream bed, is an increased ability to photograph butterflies here, since they are finally holding still!


For a little lite reading on butterfliles, and their nutritional information, here’s a great resource I’ve found!

Your thoughts: Do you have any tried-and-true secrets to attract butterflies to your yard or patio? Do you have any favorite photographs of butterflies that you have taken in your garden or yard? If so, please send them my way! You can email me at greengardenista@gmail.com. I will post any pictures that I receive on a special “Garden Wildlife” feature coming soon to Green Gardenista!