Wild Wonders + Meet the Beetles!

May 22nd, 2014 Posted in Insects, Late spring flowers, butterflies, destinations, shade plants, wildflowers

I’d love to quilt my garden in winecups!

native wildflower winecup Austin Texas

I also adore this soft combination: heartleaf skullcap and artemisia dotted by wayward larkspurs.

heartleaf skullcap artemesia larkspur austin texas

Soon the heartleaf goes underground until late fall and the larkspurs to seed. The voracious artemisia will cover the spot this summer. When heartleaf returns, it’ll be time to manicure artemisia again.

Many wildflowers are setting seeds. When the seed heads are brown, collect, dry, and store in the house, not in the shed. Our viewer picture goes to Warren Dixon in College Station, where he’s got a whole field of native Texas vervain about ready to re-populate.

Native Texas vervain field photo by Warren Dixon

Now, here’s a testament to daylilies in part shade. This batch gets shade most of the day, but enough psycho light sun to brighten up that spot.

daylily in psycho light central texas

This Saturday, head out to the Austin Daylily Society’s always remarkable show and sale to pick up some of these drought-tough perennials. Plus, the plants they sell are tried & true varieties for us.

Evergreen Sparkler sedge (Carex phyllocephala) ‘Sparkler’ is really meant for shade, but handles psycho lighting just fine.

sparkler sedge Travis County Extension

I admire the one at the Travis County Extension demonstration gardens planted in bright shade against a wall, but it certainly sparkles things up under live oak trees, too.  Find out why Daphne makes it her Plant of the Week.

sparkler sedge Travis County Extension

I’ve tried Sparkler sedge for years without much success, so I’m taking Daphne’s advice to renew compost around my current ones. Also, I think mine are getting TOO much shade. One is so miserable that I moved it to a container that gets more dappled light, to replace a frozen foxtail fern. Sparkler is quite cold hardy, so if this works, we’ll all be happy!

sparkler sedge divided for container central texas gardener

One reason for some of my shade is the neighbor’s pecan trees. Richard Lopez asked us: “How long can we store pecans indoors? And when should we plant?” Get Daphne’s answer about why to plant in fall.

Here’s the latest find to fend off squash vine borer moths or other pests on your crops!  John Dromgoole shows how to protect with  Micromesh, this one by Haxnick’s.

Micromesh to fend off squash vine borer moth

micromesh cover over squash photo by the Natural Gardener

He also cautions about using Bt unless you target a specific caterpillar, like cutworms in the tomato bed or Genista caterpillar explosions on mountain laurels, where they can wipe out a young tree in no time.

Genista caterpillar photo by Wizzie Brown Texas A&M AgriLife Extension

On many plants, Bt just kills our future butterflies and pollinating moths. Parsley and dill are heading to seed-land, anyway, so leave the Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars alone.

swallowtail caterpillar on parsley central texas gardener

Right now, you might be spotting creatures like this.

ladybug larva on winecup central texas gardener

That’s the larva of one your best friends, ladybug, that cleans up those aphids for you. Lady bugs are actually beetles. This week, entomologist Mike Quinn joins Tom to meet some of the other beetles on tour working hard for us in our gardens.

Mike Quinn Texas Entomology on Central Texas Gardener

I first met Mike through the Austin Butterfly Forum. He also curates Texas Entomology, which includes fabulous pictures of various insects, info about them, and links to insect resources around the country. He’s a top contributor to BugGuide, another go-to source for insect IDs.

There are many lady beetles out there, including Asian pest (Harmonia axyridis), that invades our homes. On the other hand, the Ashy Gray is a beneficial friend.

Olla v-nigrum - Ashy Gray Lady Beetle Texas Entomology

You’ll love Mike’s childhood story about Notch-Tipped Flower Longhorn beetles! In the larval stage, they mostly bore into dead wood to promote decomposition. Then, those tunnels become nesting sites for bees. As adults, they are pollinators.

Typocerus sinuatus - Notch-Tipped Flower Longhorn photo by Mike Quinn

On tour at Natural Bridge Caverns, see one of the best reasons to “go clean” on top of the ground.

Thanks for stopping in! Next week, see how a family replaced lawn with ponds. Linda

  1. 8 Responses to “Wild Wonders + Meet the Beetles!”

  2. By matt on May 23, 2014

    My heartleaf skullcap finally took off like crazy this spring. It will interesting to see it disappear for the summer

    Reply

    Linda reply on May 23rd, 2014 4:11 pm:

    Hi, Matt! Yes, it takes a few years. Mine are just starting to get their roots in. And one day, they just go away. If you dig in that area, you’ll see their little tubers (or whatever they are). If you dig one up by mistake, just move it to a new spot!

    Reply

  3. By Bob Beyer on May 23, 2014

    Speaking about collecting wildflower seed, I have discovered that by collecting bluebonnet seed the moment they are ripe enough will prolong the life of the bluebonnet plant and cause it to re-bloom, not nearly like the first round, but still nice to have them for a prolonged period in the garden.

    Reply

    Linda reply on May 23rd, 2014 4:10 pm:

    Oh, that’s good to know, Bob! I’ve had luck doing that with other wildflowers, but hadn’t thought of that!

    Reply

  4. By Donna Friedenreich on May 24, 2014

    Heartleaf Skullcap is such a rewarding plant in your garden! It spreads easily through underground tubers, blooms in late spring/early summer, sleeps, and comes back in the fall to bloom again. Last year, I gave a flat of Heartleaf Skullcap to Herb Society member, Judith Craft, to plant in the Herb Garden at Zilker Botanical Garden. Looks fabulous!

    Reply

    Linda reply on May 25th, 2014 3:21 pm:

    Wow, Donna! What a wonderful gift! I’m sure it’s absolutely gorgeous.

    Reply

  5. By Tina on May 26, 2014

    That wine cup–so gorgeous! Jenny at Rock Rose gave me a seedling last fall–hoping for a show like yours next spring. Heartleaf Skullcap is one of my favorite plants and it’s been so beautiful this year!! Thanks for the information on the beetles and the insect information links. So much to learn.

    Reply

    Linda reply on May 26th, 2014 3:02 pm:

    Hi, Tina! Oh yes, you will by next year!

    Reply

Post a Comment