Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Pick your Yard's Critters

What kind of critters do you like to see in your yard? What you plant or allow to grow wild in your yard affects what wildlife visits your yard in the summertime.
(Psst! It's not too late to start planting mature plants - make sure to 'water in' your plants well, and try to plant later in the day after the hottest part of the day is done to give your plants a chance to acclimate overnight.)

Here are some creatures and a few of the plants that attract them:

1. Bees

These pollinators are essential to the process of flowering and producing fruit and vegetables in the summer. To help the bees, here are a few flowers they especially like:

Alyssum or Sweet Alyssum

This plant looks like a carpet and does wonderful in the St. Louis area heat, especially with the clay-dense soil in our area. This looks great potted (especially if you have a balcony or porch area) or contained in a bricked-in area to spread out like a carpet.
How to care for Alyssum plants

Poppies or Oriental Poppies
Poppies are lovely wildflowers to grow. These are perennials, so they will come back if cared for over the summer and late fall when they maintain some foliage (leaves) after their blooming is finished.
How to care for Poppies

2. Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds especially love red and orange shades of flowers, and they like flowers with a tubular or bell shape. They also like plants between 3-12 feet above the ground as a rule of thumb. Here are some plants that will attract these little beauties to your yard or balcony:

Fuchsia Plants (pronounced: few-shuh)
 Pictured: 'Snow burner' color variation; any red and white or hot pink/red colored fuchsias will attract hummingbirds.
Fuchsia plants are shade-loving plants that grow best in hanging pots or slightly elevated pots. They need good drainage in their pots and should not be in direct sunlight in the hottest times of the summer to stay healthy.
How to care for Fuchsia Plants
*Psst! These can be taken indoors over the winter to keep them growing.

 Columbine flowers
These plants are easy to start from seed and attract hummingbirds. They live for only a few years, but re-seed themselves; with proper fertilizing and plant food, these will continue to populate your garden.
How to care for Columbine flowers

Red hot poker plant
These plants are the preferred hue and height that hummingbirds like. These are also known as "Torch Lilies" and require full sun and good drainage around their roots (no standing water for these lovely plants!) Leave adequate space between this plant and others due to its large size.
How to care for Red Hot Pokers

3. Butterflies

These delicate insects are delightful pollinators - they are also essential to growing fruits, vegetables, and flowers each year. The plants listed below are to attract mature butterflies - if you are interested in planting food for butterfly larvae to help the butterfly population, check out this list of butterfly host plants.

Butterfly Bush
This tri-colored butterfly bush is an example of the gorgeous and wild-looking bush named after the creatures that adore it. There are varieties in different colors - some are solid colors while others are mixed. These bushes do well in full sun and well-drained soil. Make sure to plant these 5-10 feet apart- they do indeed get very tall and wide!
How to care for a Butterfly Bush

Allium or Flowering Onion
These amazing flowers look just like the Truffula trees out of Dr. Seuss's book The Lorax. These flowers like sun and do well with fertilizer if the soil quality is lacking.
How to care for Allium flowers

Did this help you think about what to plant in your yard? Show us a picture and tell us about it!

Posted by Kaitlyn Auer, Library Clerk