Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: Summer Phlox

I count on the different species of Phlox for several seasons of delightful color starting in early spring.
Right now Summer Phlox is blooming in various shades of pink and magenta.
There are even a few of the white flowered 'David',
a lovely striped 'Peppermint Twist' that wants to revert to a favorite parent color, and
a newer cultivar, 'Jeana' that is an absolute delight. I am not alone in thinking she's a marvelous addition to the garden, every Swallowtail in the neighborhood has stopped by for nectar.
The first Phloxes in this garden were here when I arrived. They were the offspring of whatever the previous gardeners might have planted 30+ years ago and were all wonderful magenta flowered beauties. They are still here, well, the offspring of the offspring are still here and after years of letting species and cultivars go to seed, real treasures have been produced in the crossings of the crossings.
a crossing produced this gentle pink
 What do you think of these two very different pinks? (photos above and below) I adore them and, in case you wondered when I would get around to pollinators, they love them, too.
This is a luscious color
Speaking of pollinators. Carpenter bees are frequent phlox visitors, but, their big bodies makes it hard to fit into the flowers so they will drill or cut into the corolla of the phlox to get at the nectar.
look out for the nectar robbers
They are cheating the pollination process when they get the nectar without a pollen transfer! They're robbing the nectar, but there's still plenty for other pollinator visitors.
Butterflies, moths (including Hummingbird and Sphinx moths) and skippers are the primary pollinators of phlox. Their proboscis are long enough to reach the nectar at the base of the narrow phlox corolla and pollen is carried to the next flower.  

Phlox has all the characteristics of a classic butterfly nectar flower.
  • clustered flowers with a landing platform
  • brightly colored
  • open during the day
  • ample nectar producer 
  • nectar deeply hidden in corolla


If you want to attract butterflies, moths, skippers and other pollinators to your garden then plant more phlox! That's what I've been doing. Phlox paniculata 'Jeana' was planted this spring and I have every intention of planting more of that cultivar. She rocks as a butterfly magnet. You can find species Phlox paniculata at many native plant nurseries including GroWild here in Middle Tennessee or from mail order nurseries like Prairie Moon.
Hummingbird clearwing moth

 If you want to see what kind of offspring you can get from all the cross pollination that will be happening, then don't deadhead your plants, let them go to seed and self sow. The parent plants always bloom true, but seedlings will be a pleasant surprise of mixed colors for your garden.
Have fun out there and keep cool!
Happy Wildflower Wednesday
xoxogail

The particulars
Type:  Herbaceous
Sun Exposure:  Full Sun to partial Shade
Bloom Color: Jewel box of colors
Bloom Time:  Mid Summer to late Summer/Early Fall
Hardiness: From Minneapolis to the Gulf Coast. They've escaped from gardens and naturalized
Wildlife Value: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, moths and skippers
Flowers: Fragrant
Water Needs: Water regularly, good drainage
Soil: Rich, moist, well draining. Enrich clay soil with humus and compost.
Care: Divide occasionally. Phlox are susceptible to mildew and phlox bugs make sure they have good air movement and each fall, after the first killing frost cut it to the ground and trash the cuttings, this will keep the mold spores in check since they can over winter in the stalks as well as  eliminating any phlox bugs that might be over wintering in the stalks. 

Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.



Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Feel the Mercury Rising

Summer is sizzling in Middle Tennessee and the newest Coreopsis are hot, hot, hot!

C 'Mercury Rising' is blooming a velvety claret in my garden, some with white tips that I find quite striking.
'Mercury Rising’ is one of the new introductions by Darrell Probst in his ‘Big Bang’ series of hybrid coreopsis. I am crazy about them!
Yes, you heard me say I was crazy about Coreopsis hybrids and I am. Of course, my go to plants will almost always be species plants, but, there's plenty of room in my heart and garden for flowers that are attractive to pollinators, whether they are the straight species, a cultivar or a complicated hybrid. I believe that a healthy garden, one that's attractive to pollinators, has a lot of flowers.

In fact, my goal this past year has been to plant more flowers. Lots and lots of flowers that bees and other pollinators prefer.  

Flowers that are rich in pollen.

Flowers that are rich in nectar.

Colorful flowers that appeal to bees and hummingbirds.

Flowers that have a range of shapes and sizes to attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds and even flies and beetles!

Flowers that are early bloomers and are pollinated by gnats and flies or the occasional honeybee out and about on warm days.

Flowers that bloom for a long time.

Flowers, trees and shrubs that are hosts for the larva of caterpillars and beneficial bugs.

'Mercury Rising' has been a good addition to my pollinator friendly garden. They're never, ever without some pollinator visitor and they bloom for a very long time. I don't know how you feel about this, but, those are very good reasons to include them in a native plant garden!

xoxogail

For more on Clay and Limestone's Coreopsis posts click on these links: Shift To Red, Cultivars in a Wildflower Garden and The Flower and the Bee

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wildflower Wednesday: Embrace imperfection in your garden!

That's what I've done!

When you commit to a pesticide free garden you have to be prepared for chewed on petals and foliage.

Are you ready to embrace imperfection?
You won't be sorry when you do.  Bees, butterflies, skippers, beetles and hoverflies will move into your garden. It will be alive with critters.
Your garden will not be magazine perfect, but, pollinators don't care if your flower petals are chewed on.  They need flowers bursting with pollen and nectar. Your garden will be teeming with life. Spiders will build webs; the beneficial insects will keep aphids in check; pollinators will pollinate; and, birds will hunt the insects.

It will be a beautiful imperfect garden, just as it's supposed to be.
When you let go of pesticides and embrace imperfection you become the change our world needs.

  • You can help create a paradigm shift that redefines garden beauty to include imperfection.
  • You can refuse to be shamed or swayed by the judgement of perfection worshipers.
  • You can say no to pesticides that poison flowers and kill our important garden visitors.
  • You can let nursery managers know that you don't need or expect them to offer "perfect plants" that have pretreated with insecticides.

You just have to do it!


If we all work together, we can become the change our world needs.
xoxogail

Welcome to Wildflower Wednesday. It's the fourth Wednesday of each month and time to celebrate wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. When I walked around the garden planning for WW, I noticed that several coneflowers had been chewed on by insects. It seemed an opportune time to  encourage my fellow wildflower enthusiasts to embrace the beauty of a pesticide free garden's imperfection. All the coneflowers shown (Echinacea tennesseensis, E purpurea and Echinacea cultivars including 'Ruby Star', 'Magnus', and 'Prairie Splendor') are imperfect beauties. Not only have they been chewed on by critters, their offspring are different looking with their petals poking every which way.  It happens~plants get chewed on and offspring are not true! Happy Wildflower Wednesday!

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Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

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