Monday, August 31, 2015

Designing and Planting Your Very Own Butterfly Garden: Part 4

Planting and Maintenance

In my last post we discussed designing your custom butterfly garden.

Now, let's get to planting!

In the Southeast, Fall is the absolute best time to plant. Plants are done reproducing, and put all their remaining energy into expanding and strengthening their root systems in preparation for dormancy.

However, that's not to say you can't plant in the spring, too! The plants may just need a little more attention and watering to help them get established. You obviously need to make sure there is no danger of frost, whichever season you decide to plant in.

Keep an eye on the forecast. It's best to get your plants in the ground if you see several days of rainy (or at least overcast) weather ahead. This obviously will allow Mother Nature to do most of the watering for you!

Select a day to pick up your plants from the nursery, and if it's a sunny day, plan to plant your plants once the sun is off your garden area (preferably in the late afternoon/evening).

Once you get ready to plant, set the plants (in their containers) in the layout you designed, and get one last look before you start digging holes. You may want to make some last minute alterations to your design.

You probably know how to dig a hole and put a plant in it, but I always like to add a little water in the bottom of the hole to help moisten the roots.

If the plants are pot-bound, soak them thoroughly in their pot before trying to remove them. If their roots have wrapped around the bottom of the pot, cut the plastic pot to gently free the plant. You might even want to gently break up the root ball if it is really compacted.

Once you have them in the soil, give them a good, long drink.

If the weather is going to be warm and sunny, be sure to water your plants daily. If it's cool and overcast they will probably be okay with being watered every 3 days or so.

My little front butterfly garden, shortly after planting in 2012
After the first week, they usually do alright with weekly waterings, but that of course depends on the weather.

Once your garden is established, you still have to work to keep it looking nice, just like any garden.

My butterfly garden in 2014
Weeding will be necessary, but applying mulch will help your efforts there.

The most intensive weeding period is from late Spring to early Summer. Try to disturb the soil as little as possible, since this brings up more weed seeds into the sunlight, giving them a chance to sprout. Aim for weeding a little bit several times a week, rather than putting it off for long periods and then having a huge job on your hands.

Dead-heading blooms on many plant species will help keep growth tidy, and encourage a longer bloom season.

As long as their needs are met in regards to soil moisture and sunlight requirements, pests and disease are rarely a problem with native plants. But if you start having issues with aphids or powdery mildew, for instance, try to use natural methods to combat these problems, rather than reaching for the store-bought chemicals. Applying pesticides will negate the whole point of having a butterfly garden!

Now it's time to enjoy that garden! Next time, we'll discuss simple ways you and your family can further enjoy the new butterfly habitat you have created. See you, then!

1 comment:

  1. This has really been an awesome series! Thanks for all the information on Butterfly Gardens. I'm definitely using some of your suggestions for my garden next year!

    Thanks again for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday!