Monthly Archives: June 2016

Four Ways to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

Today’s the official start of summer and it coincides with another important annual event — National Pollinator Week. From June 20 through June 28, agencies, organizations, companies and ordinary gardeners bring attention to ways to help build healthy environments for bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other vital pollinators.

Here are four ways to celebrate pollinators this week. Please add your ideas to the list:

Million Pollinator Garden Challenge1. Register your garden on the National Pollinator Garden Network.

Become one in a million by registering your pollinator-friendly garden as part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to register 1,000,000 public and private gardens and landscapes that give pollinators what they need: nesting sites and plants that provide pollen and nectar.

Pollinator Friendly Jacket Image2. Learn more about pollinators.

There are many free pollinator guides available if you need help deciding which plants give the biggest bang for pollinators. There’s also a new book written by a gardener for gardeners. Pollinator Friendly Gardening by Rhonda Fleming Hayes explains that no matter the size of your garden, there are dozens of good plants for helping pollinators. Her detailed plant lists simplify selecting flowers, herbs, vines, shrubs and trees.

3. Become a Habitat Hero.

Encourage more feathered friends to gather in your landscape through the Habitat Heroes program with Audubon Rockies. Apply to have your landscape recognized as a Habitat Hero wildscape. Some of the basics include planting bird-friendly native and regionally-adapted plants, reducing herbicide and pesticide use, and controlling invasive plants.

Pollinator Bee4. Plant zinnias.

A single packet of zinnia seeds will give you a summer full of color and plenty of lovely nectar-filled landing pads for bees and butterflies. Zinnias are some of the easiest annual flowers to grow whether in garden beds or containers on the patio, balcony or deck.

Please keep pollinators in mind and let’s work together to create a lot of buzz during National Pollinator Week!

By Jodi Torpey
A Denver master gardener

 

Advertisements

Managing Aphids

June is a beautiful month in the landscape – welcoming peonies, iris, columbine, meadow sage and the inevitable explosion of aphids on perennials, shrubs and trees.

DSCN0534These soft-bodied insects resemble green, tan, red or black sesame seeds and can be found on stems, leaves (often underneath) or flowers. They feast on tender new growth, such as the fresh leaves of the bridal wreath spirea pictured here. Aphids suck sap from plants and in turn, leave behind a sticky, honeydew-like secretion on the foliage.

Depending on the plant, aphids can cause curled leaves, distorted flowers, reduced growth or little to no damage. A black mold may form on the sticky secretion. Ladybugs (or lady beetles) are natural aphid predators and can consume 50-150 aphids a day. The sticky secretion attracts ladybugs and other predators to the desired aphids.

What are options for controlling aphids?

  • Let nature take care of it. Ladybugs, green lacewings and other natural enemies can  eliminate modest sized aphid invasions.
  • Hose off the plant with a strong spray of water directed at the infested area. This is either lethal to the insects or if they survive, most won’t return. Given the size of the aphid population, it can take more than one forceful shower, a few days apart, to be completely effective.
  • Prune heavily infested limbs.
  • Control with nontoxic insecticidal soaps which are widely available in garden centers.
  • If possible, avoid insecticides which  also harm beneficial insects.

What about the packaged lady bugs?

It seems like this would be a good idea, but releasing packaged, field collected ladybugs has not been shown to provide long lasting protection. The chance of the “ladies” obediently staying where you want them is questionable. Further, field collected ladybugs can harbor a parasite which is a natural enemy of the ladybug population, according to CSU entomologists.

Want more information?

Check out the following CSU publications:

 

Written by Linda McDonnell, a Denver County Master Gardener