Butterfly Gardens Enliven the Landscape
in this issue
M O U N T A I N
N E W S
S T A T E
N E W S
Eastern tiger swallowtail
JC Raulston Arboretum
Sleepy orange skipper
JC Raulston Arboretum
JC Raulston Arboretum
nc state university NORTH CAROLINA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION Spring 2009
Growing a garden is a satisfying proj-ect.
When plants bloom and thrive,
they bring constant pleasure to the
gardener who has spent many hours on hands
and knees tending them. Added pleasures in
home gardens are the creatures that make their
homes among the flowers. One of the most
enchanting of these creatures is the butterfly.
A welcome visitor to any garden, the butterfly’s
whimsical frolic among the plants growing
there brings a smile to anyone who may be
There are many different butterflies through-out
the world, including the 160 species that
occur in North Carolina. When they enter a
garden, they are looking for two things: nectar
and host plants. Nectar is a major food source
for butterflies, and a host plant is a specific plant
upon which a butterfly will lay her eggs. This
host plant must also serve as food for hatching
caterpillars. To encourage butterflies in your
garden, these two requirements must be met.
What types of flowers appeal to butterflies?
Brightly colored blooms will attract them, and
fragrance is also a factor. Most butterflies must
land on a flower to drink, so they like those with
large petals or tight clusters of flowers. They also
seem to prefer mass plantings of single colors
rather than a hodgepodge of mixed colors. As
butterflies are present all season long, plants that
flower for a long time are preferred.
To ensure the presence of butterflies, plant
some host plants in or near the garden. Each
species of butterfly is very specific about the
types of plants its caterpillars will consume.
Become familiar with the types of butterflies
that frequent your area and the host plants they
require. Decide where you will put your butter-fly
habitat and how much space to devote to it
before selecting plants. Choose a sunny location.
Most butterflies are active only in the sun, and
many plants that host caterpillars or produce
nectar for adult butterflies grow well in sunny
habitats. Include some tall plants and shrubs
that will help to shelter butterflies from wind
Butterflies like to have a place to get warm
in the mornings, so flat, dark-colored rocks for
them to sun on will encourage them to visit.
Also, an area on the ground that can be kept
moist is helpful so that visiting butterflies can
drink water and absorb minerals from wet soil.
Enjoy your butterfly garden and the visitors that
it will attract. For a list of plants that attract
butterflies and more information about butterfly
gardens, see Butterflies in Your Backyard: www.
— Donna Teasley
April 7, Controlling the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Burke County Ag Bldg., Morganton, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, 828.439.4460
April 9, Growing Annuals & Perennials, Burke County Ag Bldg., Morganton, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, 828.439.4460
April 13, Build Your Own Patio Fountain, Bullington Center, Hendersonville, 1:00 – 3:00 pm, 828.697.4891
April 14, Beginning Gardening Series, Ag Conference Center, Boone, 828.264.3061
April 14, Support Landscape Tree Health, The N.C. Arboretum, Asheville, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
April 14, Farmland Preservation, Cedar Springs Baptist Church, Zirconia, 7:30 – 9:30 pm, 828.697.4891
April 18, Backyard Rain Garden Work Shop, Henderson County Extension Center, Hendersonville, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, 828.697.4891
April 18, Container Gardening, Ace Hardware, Morganton, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 828.439.4460
April 23, Weeds in the Home Lawn, Burke County Ag Bldg., Morganton, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, 828.439.4460
April 24 – 25, Plant Show and Sale, Bullington Center, Hendersonville, 828.698.6104
April 27, Vegetable Gardening in WNC, Bullington Center, Hendersonville, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, 828.697.4891
April 30, Mini Garden Project, Ag Resources Center, Newton, 6:15 – 8:00 pm, 828.465.8240
May 6, Pesticide Disposal Day, Caldwell Ag Center, Lenoir, 828.757.1291
May 11, So You Think You Know How to Plant, Bullington Center, Hendersonville, 1:00 – 2:00 pm, 828.697.4891
May 16, Controlling Pests in the Vegetable Garden, Ace Hardware, Morganton, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, 828.439.4460
Sustainable Gardening — Planning a garden and landscape
Food Production — Local foods a national phenomenon
We hear a lot these days about sustainable living. What does “sustainable” mean to the gardener? Hopefully, it means we plan for our gardening practices to benefit both the environment and the gardener. With wise planning, you can have a landscape and gardens that are attractive and easy to maintain. Each quarter we will be sharing some tips on sustainable gardening. Let’s get started by considering these practices:
• Select plants carefully. Planting the right plant in the right place can prevent a lot of problems down the road. A happy plant is a healthy plant.
• Use less fertilizer. Excess fertilizer is not only wasteful, it can stress plants, can make them less drought tolerant, and risks contaminating water supplies.
• Use slow-release fertilizer. Nitrogen applied in a slowly released form greatly reduces the risks of fertilizer runoff.
• Manage pests sensibly. Identify pests and learn the least toxic way to manage them. Do those insects really warrant control measures?
• Use fewer pesticides. Random use of pesticides may kill beneficial insects and pose other environmental consequences. Using pesticides unnecessarily is also a waste of money and more work for the gardener.
• Minimize and manage irrigation. Implement xeriscaping techniques to reduce the amount of water needed in the landscape. Water only when needed, and apply water efficiently.
• Practice water harvesting. Install rain barrels or cisterns to reduce your use of municipal or well water.
• Control stormwater runoff.
• Mulch correctly. The right amount of mulch looks nice, reduces weeds and helps reduce water needs.
• Include more native plants. Many native plants are particular about their location – sunlight, soil type, soil drainage. Plant them where they will adapt well and provide beneficial wildlife habitat.
• Recycle yard waste. Composting is the best way to dispose of yard waste, besides providing a wonderful soil amendment.
One of the newest words in the dictionary is “locavore,” a term that refers to someone who emphasizes eating local food, typically produced within a few miles of home. Some folks have followed a plan where they did this for a set period of time, trying to buy as little nonlocal food as possible.
Most consumers aren’t ready for such a plan, but many have really enjoyed the renewed emphasis on local food. It’s hard to pick up any newspaper these days without seeing an article on this subject.
The advantages of local food include freshness and quality. There’s often the chance to talk to the farmer and find out exactly how your food was grown. Money spent with that farmer re-circulates in the community, magnifying its benefit to the local economy. It’s also nice to know that there was much less energy used to transport the food from the farm to you.
One result of the local food initiative is the increase in farmers’ markets. Many counties now have more than one market. Some producers sell on the farm itself. Others make use of community supported agriculture (CSA) and deliver packages of edibles to their clients throughout the season. Farmers are also selling their products to restaurants and chefs, who are proud to tout the sources of these menu items.
You can find local food growers via lots of Web sites, such as www.carolinafarmstewards.org, www.localharvest.org, www.buyappalachian.org, and www.foothillsfresh.com. Your local Extension Center can also help you locate these farms.
—Kevin StarrRegional News of the Mountains
• Collect soil samples and have
• Fertilize asparagus, perennials,
small shade trees, shrubs, and
• Finish pruning the home or-chard,
and apply dormant spray
before buds swell.
• Plant cool-weather vegetables,
roses, trees, shrubs and fruit
• Apply pre-emergence herbicides
• Replenish mulch to maintain a
2 – 4-inch layer.
• Divide and transplant perennials.
• Spray dogwood trees to protect
from anthracnose as buds open.
• Start a combination spray pro-gram
• Control broadleaf weeds in
• Re-define edges of plant borders.
• Fruit trees with no crop will
require less fertilizer than those
with a full crop.
• If needed, trim spring-flowering
trees after blooms fade.
• Cut out any winter damage.
• Spray for azalea lacebug, box-wood
leaf miner, camellia tea
scale, euonymus scale, hemlock
and juniper spider mites and
• Sidedress vegetables 6 to 8
weeks after germination.
• Fertilize warm-season grasses.
• Prune early blooming shrubs
after flowers fade.
• Treat lacebugs on azaleas, pyra-cantha
• Control broadleaf weeds.
• Use caution near snake habitats.
• Plant annual and summer bulbs
and warm-season vegetables.
Environmental Stewardship — Basic practices
Garden Spot — Bullington Center
What is environmental stewardship? It is a
way of living that shows respect for the
environment and for others that live around us.
This is just one broad definition of environmen-tal
stewardship. The truth is that there are many
different answers to this question, and probably
most of them would be correct. We have just
one earth. As its inhabitants, we have a respon-sibility
to keep it working properly. We must
live in a manner that gives the earth an oppor-tunity
to replenish its resources faster than we
use them up.
Everyone can take part in this style of living,
whether it is recycling to keep plastic water
bottles out of landfills or using correct fertiliz-ing
techniques to keep unsafe levels of fertilizer
from finding their way to the water supply. In
short, environmental stewardship is caring about
what those who come after us will find. There
are things that each of us can do without put-ting
ourselves to any trouble in the day-to-day
process of living:
• Keep the car tuned up.
• Drink water from a glass instead of a plastic
• Leave grass clippings on the lawn.
• Follow label directions when using a pesticide,
and use it only as a last resort.
• Dispose of used batteries correctly.
• Compost whenever possible.
None of the things listed above would be dif-ficult
for us to do each day. All it takes is the
desire to improve our environment and the hope
that future generations will be able to enjoy the
simple pleasures of living on this Planet Earth.
The Bullington Center is a horticultural edu-cational
facility that was once the home and
thriving nursery business of Bob Bullington. The
12-acre property was donated to the Henderson
County Education Foundation to be used for
horticultural education. A visit to
the Bullington Center is a
delight to anyone who
appreciates the beauty
and texture of flow-ers,
and trees. The cen-ter’s
setting changes with
each new season.
The site features
unusual cultivated plants from
Asia. Native azaleas, meadows, and a
nature trail wind through a mixed forest and
rhododendron thicket, partially along a stream.
The existing gardens include colorful perennial
borders, a butterfly garden, a shade garden, and
an herb garden containing fragrant herbs and
dye, medicinal and biblical herbs.
The Center hosts field trips, classes and
workshops for elementary students, including
plant math, seed education, and plant-insect
interaction. The Center also has weather instru-ments,
grow lights, and compost bins that can
be used for class experiments and projects. 4-H
youth raise pumpkins, and the Boys and
Girls Club grows a summer
vegetable garden. Adult
workshops cover such
topics as wildflower
pruning and basic
The most re-cent
addition to the
grounds of the Bulling-ton
Center is the therapy
garden, which offers horticultural
therapy programs to elderly and disabled popu-lations.
This garden brings hope through specifi-cally
designed gardening activities. For more
information, visit www.bullingtoncenter.org.
Native azaleas (above) are part of a mixed forest
and rhododendron thicket at the Bullington
Center. (Piedmont azalea. Photo courtesy JC Raulston
Chinese fringe flower Lorapetalum chinense ‘Ruby’ is an evergreen (or should we say “ever-red”) shrub that adds pizzazz to any landscape. Its ruby-red new growth in spring darkens to a deep-burgundy by autumn. Each April, bright pink clusters of fringe-shaped flowers appear to complement the colorful foliage, making this plant a true Showstopper.
Loropetalum or Chinese fringe flower will grow in sun or part shade. Most will easily grow 8 feet tall and wide. ‘Ruby’ is considered to be one of the more compact cultivars, reaching a mature height of only 5 feet. If another variety is overgrown, prune it into a small, spreading tree.
Use this versatile shrub in an informal hedge, to screen an undesirable view, or with other plants in a shrub border. Once established, ‘Ruby’ and the other loropetalums are very drought tolerant. —John Vining and Mark Blevins
Extension Gardener provides timely, research-based horticultural information. We publish 4 issues per year. Send comments about Extension Gardener to
Editor and Team Leader
Lucy Bradley, Ph.D., Extension Specialist, Urban Horticulture
Box 7609, NC State University
Raleigh, NC 27695-7609
Managing Editor Will Strader
Content Editor David Goforth
Coastal Plain Anne Edwards,
Piedmont Carl Matyac, Mark Blevins
Mountains Donna Teasley,
Production Editor Barbara Scott
Designer Karl Larson
The use of brand names does not imply endorsement by N.C. Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.
Distributed in furtherance of the acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, veteran status, or disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation. North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
©North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Extension Gardener may not be reproduced without written permission. Any news media using sections of the newsletter should credit “Extension Gardener, N.C. Cooperative Extension.”
Blueberries are a wonderful addition to any North Carolina yard! They can be incorporated into the landscape as hedges or planted in mixed borders. You can find out which varieties are recommended for your area from your local Extension center. Regardless of variety, all blueberries require acidic soils to grow well. Testing your soil to find out your pH before planting is critical to success. Blueberries prefer a soil pH of around 4.5. They also need good drainage, but don’t like to dry out. Mix composted organic matter into your soil to help retain enough moisture to keep plants healthy. Plant on a mound to improve soil drainage. Blueberries produce best in full sun. They will also do well in part shade, as long as they get at least 4 hours of sunlight each day.
Around the State
Pest Alert — Fire Ants Must Be Monitored
North Carolina’s imported fire ant infestation continues to expand, partly because of recent mild winters. Increased residential and industrial development and infestations of fire ants in sod and nursery stock are also factors.
Although red imported fire ants are a nuisance, ants in general are beneficial insects that help to degrade waste and eat other insects. Researchers recommend spot-treating each mound instead of trying to eradicate all fire ants by broadcasting baits over large areas. Native ants will defend their territory and help to prevent red imported fire ants from spreading.
Control is designed around killing the queen. While she lives, she will lay hundreds of eggs daily. It can take several weeks to kill all
Red imported fire antthe ants in a mound. Fire ant baits and liquid drenches are effective when properly applied. Apply drenches in high-use areas where people are likely to be stung. Ants that come in contact with the liquid pesticide die immediately. There are no guarantees, however, that the queen will come in contact with the pesticide. If she does not die, the mound will survive.
While you may be successful in destroying a fire ant mound, monitoring for future mounds is very important. Don’t expect 100% control. New queens will always develop and start new mounds. For more information about fire ants, visit www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/ifa.htm
JC Raulston Arboretum
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