Wildflower “Butterfly Garden” Mix

In my quest to grow more flowers last year, I picked up a wildflower mix. It is a “Butterfly mix”. A few years ago I think I picked up a Bee-garden mix, and was looking for it again, but could not find it. Along with the butterfly mix, there was also a hummingbird garden mix and an old fashioned garden mix. However, I didn’t get around to sowing the packet. I got distracted by tomatoes.

The seed packet description reads: “The butterfly mixture contains a blend of delightfully fragrant and colorful flowers that attract nearby Butterflies while adding beauty to your garden.”

I thought it would be a good idea to de-code the “contents” names that are only in the latin/botanical name.

  • Alyssum maritimum: Sweet Alyssum or Sweet Allison. This is one I’m not particularly familar with. It is a member of the brassica family though, and native to the Meditarinian. Annual
  • Calendula officinalis: Calendula, or Pot Marigold. This is a self-seeding annual or a short-lived perennial. 
  • Centaurea cyanus: Bachelor’s Button or Cornflower. Annual
  • Cheiranthus allionii: Siberian Wallflower. Biennial
  • Coreopsis tinctoria: Golden Tickseed or Plains Coreopsis. Annual
  • Cynoglossum amabile: Chinese Forget-Me-Not. Annual
  • Delphinium consolida: Field Larkspur (Until I did some googling, I just expected this one to be regular perennial Delphinium, but according to the internet, it is an annual wildflower variety. Annual  (NOTE…. Do not eat or allow any animals to eat. Very Poisonous)
  • Dianthus barbatus: Sweet William. Biennial 
  • Echinacea purpurea: Purple Coneflower, Purple Echinacea. Annual
  • Eschscholzia californica: California Poppy. Perennial in warm areas, Annual in colder areas.
  • Gypsophila elegans: Baby’s Breath. Annual
  • Leucanthemum x superbum: Shasta Daisy. Perennial
  • Linum grandiflorum rubum: Scarlet Flax or Red Flax. Annual
  • Linum perenne: Blue Flax or Perennial Flax. Perennial
  • Rudbeckia hirta: Black Eyed Susan. Biennial (Some warmer areas- Perennial, some colder areas-Annual)
  • Silene armeria: Sweet William Catch-fly. Perennial in Zone 5-8, so probably Annual here.

Last year, I also received in the mail the Honey Nut Cheerios “Bring Back the Bees” Wildflower seed mix, And a pack of wildflower seeds from Bees Matter. And just like the pack above, I did not get around to sowing them. I like that the Bees Matter pack included the varieties they included in the pack. I will hopefully get these sown this year as well.

While I appreciate Honey Bees, they are not native here. If they want to come check out my flowers that is awesome, but I am growing them more for ANY pollinators that want to visit, and not just Honey Bees.


 

This is some of the seeds in the “Butterfly garden” Mix
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Milkweed


I’m going to attempt to grow some Milkweed for the Butterflies this year.

The seed packet says to start indoors 8-10 weeks before last frost. That is right about now… I mean, our last frost date is very dependant on the year. And there are things that I can do to help protect the little plants if we have a cold spring.

The seed packet description reads: “Asclepias curassavica. Attractive to butterflies! This easy to grow cheerful flower provides large clusters of orange to reddish colored blooms along landscapes. Tolerates dry conditions. Annual”

Days to sprout: 14-21

Bloom Period: June-Frost

Since the seed packet doesn’t usually give a lot of helpful “how to grow” info if you have no idea what you are doing, I did a little googling.

This website suggests that Milkweed needs to go through a period of cold stratification. It is actually the most helpful site that I found in my quick googling so I’m going to follow their suggestions. A few things I learned:

  • Many varieties of Milkweed have a long tap root that should not be disturbed. They suggest using peat pots for this reason.
  • transplant out when plants are still small, less than 3 inches tall (because of that tap root).
  • apparently it is normal for the plant to lose all of its leaves after transplanting. The plant is building roots and will regrow its foliage after a bit. {This is a little concerning, so I’m going to have to keep this in mind, and cross my fingers that it doesn’t happen}
  • You should only have to water these just after transplanting to let them get established, and then after than only in periods of drought.

Okay, so Why grow Milkweed in the first place? For the Monarch Butterflies. According to the website saveourmonarchs.org the Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. Because of habitat destruction through development and spraying weeds in fields, Milkweed is fast disappearing. Thus Monarchs are fast disappearing.

Adult Monarchs do have a varied diet using other flowers as sources of nectar… It is the caterpillars that are facing the habitat loss.

From a more Canadian Perspective, Here is a link to Animal Facts on Monarchs from Canadian Geographic.

So this is what I’m going to do. I’ve put some seeds into a wet paper towel and I’m putting them in the fridge for a week or so. Then I will put them into seed starting mix in a large peat pot. I’ll start some not ‘cold-stratified’ seeds in the same sized peat pot at that time too. (I sowed/put seeds on paper towel into the fridge, on March 8th)

AND I will also be planting a few other wildflower mixes as well, but I’ll save that for another post.

I have done a little more googling since I first wrote the first part of this post. In some areas Milkweed is considered a noxious weed. So if you live in areas where this could easily self seed itself in areas outside of your growing area, maybe reconsider growing it. Check out information on your area and make your decision based on that. Please don’t blindly follow just one source on the internet. Find more, with different viewpoints and make your own decisions. I am going to still plant this. I don’t for see it escaping my yard. I might reconsider if I lived in a rural area with less containment. It is a choice, and it should be an informed one.

Front: Cold Stratified Seeds;    Back: Straight from the seed packet.


So, since I forgot to hit publish on this post when I first wrote it… As of March 29th, I have not noticed any difference between the cold stratified and the seeds straight out of the seed packet. The cold stratified ones are slightly behind, but there was about 10 days between when each was sowed into dirt. They are a little bit leggy, but I cannot adjust the height of my little grow light, so they are just doing their best.