Milkweed Alert

A message from the NGC President

To all GCI members: This message came from our NGC President and we felt it was worth sharing!!

FROM: Sandy Robinson, President
DATE: April 27, 2017
SUBJECT: Milkweed
It has been brought to my attention that some “Big Stores” have been selling Milkweed plants that have been treated with systemic Neonicotinoids. This will kill caterpillars! Please, be aware and be on the lookout for these tags placed in plants. Please pass this information along to your garden club members!
See the below letter and picture I received from Mary Ellen Miller explaining the situation:
Dear Sandy, I know you are busy ending your term. We, in New Orleans, just hosted the Deep South and LGCF Conventions, but this needs immediate attention.
I purchased a Milkweed plant from Home Depot near my home and it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the little information stick hidden behind the identification information that the plant had been treated with systemic Neonicotinoids. The container boasted how desirable the plant is for birds and butterflies. Yesterday I went to a different Home Depot and they had just put out an entire rolling cart of these plants, maybe about 100, all poisoned. I contacted the store manager and told him that it is the same as giving poison candy to kids on Halloween. This is THE host plant for the Monarch. My club, Shady Oaks and our junior club, Little Shadows have worked so hard to establish a Monarch Waystation and to educate people on the decline of the Monarch. I hate to think of the millions of poison Milkweed being distributed nationwide by Home Depot.
The container says distributed by Home Depot, 2455 Paces Ferry Rd N. W., Atlanta , Georgia.
I contacted the LSU Ag Agent for New Orleans, Dr Joe Willis. He said the Neonicotinoids will dilute as the plants grow but that only a very small amount will kill the larva of the Monarch. He is contacting the Master Gardeners of the area. I contacted the newsletters of the Jefferson Parish Council of Garden Clubs and the Federated Council of New Orleans Garden Clubs to ask that they send a notice to our local members. I contacted a local GOA club and the president said she would inform her members. I contacted our LGCF President and our Environmental School Chairman with the information.
We need a notice to Home Depot from a national source. I contacted the Monarch Watch organization , at the University of Kansas (1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045) . The Little Shadows Junior Garden Club registered our Monarch Waystation with them.
Sandy we need a response from NGC to this issue. It needs to be sent soon as these plants are being sold now to well meaning people who are wanting to help the Monarch not kill them. I know you are very busy but I hate to think of the billions of plants being sold nationwide and how that will cancel the efforts of so many to stop the demise of the Monarch. Could you please help?
Mary Ellen Miller
Shady Oaks Garden Club , LGCF District II
Moderator Little Shadows Junior Garden Club
Immediate Past President Federated Council of New Orleans Garden Clubs Inc.

As always we use this form of contact to reach as many of our members as we can in between issues of our award winning magazine
Garden Glories

Horticulture Report – May 2017

May is the perfect time to divide perennials. There are lots of reasons to divide perennials in your garden. Among them are:
• Keep them Healthy. Many perennials grow quickly, forming large clumps. If you don’t divide them every three to four years, these clumps can die out in the middle, leaving a bare hole
• Protect plants for fungal diseases and insect infestation
• Keep them beautiful. Overcrowded perennials often have fewer and/or smaller flowers than their well-spaced and divided counterparts. If your perennials are drastically in need of division, they may even appear stunted.
• Keep them in bounds. Some perennials are especially vigorous or eve aggressive. Dividing these plants will keep them form overwhelming their neighbors.
• Make more plants. Dividing perennials leaves you with more plants of the same variety-perfect for adding to other places in the garden or trading with friends, family or neighbors.

While you can divide most perennials any time from spring to fall, those two seasons are the best. This is because dividing your perennials can be stressful to the plants—and they’ll recover better from the shock in cool, moist conditions. That said, if you want to divide your favorite perennials in summer, be sure to keep them well water afterward.

Here is an example of dividing a “clump” plant:
• Dig up the clump of perennials to be divided by inserting the shovel deep into the soil around the perimeter to loosen roots and isolate the clump. Here is a hint: Watering the perennial a couple of days before you dig will soften the soil and maybe save some effort.
• Once you dig the plant out of the ground, shake, wash, or brush any excess soil form around the root ball. This make it easier to pull the clump apart.
• Pry or cut apart individual crowns. Each clump needs to have sets of leaves and roots in order to grow.
• Then replant the divisions promptly so the roots don’t dry out. Plant as the same depth as before and water well. Cover the soil with mulch to help conserve moisture while your new divisions become established.
While most perennials benefit from being divided every few years, there are a few that don’t. Avoid dividing these varieties:
Baptisia, Bleeding Heart, Butterfly Weed, Christmas Rose, Lavender, Oriental Poppy
Divide every 3-4 Years:
Black-eyed Susans, Daylilly, Hosta, Peony, Phlox, Purple Coneflower
Divide every 2-3 years:
Aster, Blanket Flower, Campanula, Coreopsis, Lamb’s Ear, Yarrow

Air Plant Gift Basket for GCI

This lovely Air Plant themed gift basket, designed by our members Laura Christensen and Cheryl Weber will be auctioned off at the GCI Luncheon as part of their fundraising efforts.

Cheryl’s Tip of the Month – April 2017

How to Dye Eggs Naturally

Add separately to 2 quarts water any of the following natural items:
3 cut up beets—makes brownish eggs
Onion skins from 6 yellow onions—makes orange eggs
1 large or 2 small red cabbages—makes green eggs
4 Tablespoons ground Tumeric—makes yellow eggs
One small bag of frozen blueberries—makes blueish eggs

In separate pots, bring water and “natural item” to boil. Boil for several minutes. Take off heat and cool completely. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar to pot(s). Add previously hard boiled eggs to dye mixtures. Let sit for several hours or overnight depending on how deep you want the color to dye the eggs. Remove eggs and dry off before storing in cool place until ready to use.
To add a pattern to the eggs, you can wrap rubber bands or string around the eggs prior to dropping in the dye mixes.
Try experimenting with other “natural items”. The rule of thumb is: if it can leave a stain, you can use it as a dye. Enjoy!

Horticulture Report – April 2017

“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours.”
– Mark Twain
• Apply organic matter, compost, and manure to soil.
• Seed cool-season vegetables outside, such as peas, lettuce, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprout, Swiss chard, kale, onions, parsley and spinach.
• Cover tender plants if late frost is in the forecast.
• Plants started indoors should be hardened off outdoors in cold frames.
• Begin fertilizing houseplants again.
• Clean up your garden. Rake up any leaves, remove winter mulch, remove any dead plants, and mix in compost in your garden soil.
• As long as the ground in workable and not too wet, you can apply spring grass seed. You can also begin to fertilize the lawn.
• Fertilize roses, raspberries, and woody plants.
• Mow your ground covers to remove any winter damage. Fertilize and water the ground covers to encourage growth.
• Finish pruning.
• Apply horticultural oil to trees and shrubs that had insect issues last year.
• Prune spring-blooming shrubs, such as forsythia, after they have finished flowering.
• Divide perennials that are overcrowded.

March Tip of the Month

Spring is here, and birds around the world—and in your backyard—are turning into construction crews. It’s nesting time!
Many songbirds are master builders, putting together intricately made weavings of twig and leaf, stem and fluff, hair and moss. Some nests, like the Baltimore oriole’s, will hang from a tree branch like a small tote bag. Others, like the robin’s, are cups bristling with twigs painstakingly collected one or a few at a time. Even if you provide birdhouses in your garden, the birds that occupy them will build nests in them.

So, what can you do about it? Well, you can provide nesting material of a wide variety of types that appeal to a wide variety birds. Continue reading “March Tip of the Month”