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ANTdrew's Native Plants and Ants Journal

native plants

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#21 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 10 2019 - 8:52 AM

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Home Depot does have more natives than the used to, but most are cultivars. I'm trying to highlight in this journal how easy it is to raise native plants from seeds. Honestly, their names all end in -weed for a reason!

For the vast majority of native wildflowers, all you have to do is sow seeds in pots around the time they would be dispersing in nature and leave them outside through the winter. The freezing and thawing cycles break down germination inhibiting chemicals, so the seeds germinate the following spring when conditions are ideal. I cover these pots with mosquito netting, so rodents don't raid them and just leave them outdoors. In the spring, you'll have hundreds of seedlings, which can be potted up into larger pots as they grow then planted in their permanent locations.

 

I wish I'd learned all this a few years ago before wasting so much money on full grown native plants!


Edited by ANTdrew, June 10 2019 - 8:54 AM.

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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#22 Offline Acutus - Posted June 10 2019 - 8:57 AM

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Oh I agree with you for sure!! I'd love to see people learn all about Seeds and plants. You're just more of an optimist than I am.

I think you really have a knack for this stuff. You ever need some gardens to plant I got a few here for ya! They mostly have natives in them. :D


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Currently keeping:

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Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#23 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 10 2019 - 9:04 AM

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I'd be glad to donate plants, but I actually didn't raise too many this year. I could easily dig up volunteers and propagate things, though.  

 

Another big issue I see is that people don't want any plants taller than 6 inches in their garden.


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#24 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted June 10 2019 - 9:05 AM

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I'd be glad to donate plants, but I actually didn't raise too many this year. I could easily dig up volunteers and propagate things, though.  
 
Another big issue I see is that people don't want any plants taller than 6 inches in their garden.


They consider them "untidy" . :ugone2far:
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#25 Offline Acutus - Posted June 10 2019 - 11:34 AM

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yeah the whole Victorian Garden looking thing just sucks! When are people gonna realize that the Victorian Era was mostly the Victorian Error! :D


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Currently keeping:

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Formica subsericea


#26 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 10 2019 - 11:47 AM

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I have a ten foot tall Joe Pye weed in my front yard! I’m sure the neighbors love it! Lol
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#27 Offline Acutus - Posted June 10 2019 - 12:01 PM

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Dude I love Joe pye Weed!!


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Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#28 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 10 2019 - 1:30 PM

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Do you want some for your camp? It is totally naturalized in my yard. I love this plant because it eats clay soil for breakfast!
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#29 Offline Acutus - Posted June 10 2019 - 3:11 PM

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Do you want some for your camp? It is totally naturalized in my yard. I love this plant because it eats clay soil for breakfast!

 

Everytime I try to start it the Deer eat Joe Pye Weed for Breakfast! Lemme see if I can get a crew interested in helping out with the gardens. :D


Billy

 

Currently keeping:

Camponotus chromaiodes

Camponotus castaneus

Formica subsericea


#30 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 10 2019 - 3:19 PM

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Yeah, I was gonna say that they literally love Joe Pye for breakfast.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#31 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 25 2019 - 5:56 PM

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Update 6-25-2019
IMG 5504
IMG 5506

Solar energy is at its peak in the northern hemisphere, and with it an incredible blossoming of plant and insect life in my garden. My favorite plants blooming at the moment are Echinaceas, Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), and narrow leaved mountain mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium). Bumble bees hit a population explosion at this time every year that never fails to lift my spirits.
The other day, a kid with some exterminator company came knocking door-to-door. I stopped him mid-pitch to tell him that I actually garden FOR insects. He was pretty taken aback by that and promptly gave up his spiel. Honestly, he should have just turned around when he saw my Monarch Waystation and Certified Wildlife Habitat signs up.
One plant I want to highlight in this update is partridge pea (Chamaechrista fasciculata). This plant is WAY underused in my opinion, and it should be in every insect lover’s garden. It is low-growing with lovely fern-like leaves. It doesn't really hit peak bloom until August around here, but a few flowers have opened up in my yard.

IMG 5542
This plant is native to most of the eastern U.S. It is an annual legume that is very easy to naturalize spreading seeds about in late winter/ early spring. Bees are attracted to the flowers very early in the morning for the protein rich pollen they offer. It is truly incredible to see bumble bee masses swarming a stand of these flowers. The rich seeds are a favorite of game birds like grouse and wild turkeys as well.
But what really intrigues me about this plant are the extra floral nectaries it has at the base of each leaf. If you observe a plant closely, you will see many ants drinking at these nectaries. Here is a photo of a Crematogaster drinking:

IMG 5543
It is theorized that plants offer these nectaries to encourage ants to act as protectors against pests.

So if you have some free space in your garden, why not sprinkle some partridge pea seeds about and see what happens?

Edited by ANTdrew, June 25 2019 - 6:02 PM.

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#32 Offline ANTdrew - Posted June 28 2019 - 10:24 AM

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Photo Update 6-28-2019
Hummingbird moth on wild bergamot
IMG 5561
Soldier beetle on mountain mint
IMG 5529

Edited by ANTdrew, June 28 2019 - 3:48 PM.

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#33 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 3 2019 - 7:52 AM

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Update 7-3-2019

 

Amazing things happen when you welcome wildlife into your yard with native plants. Just this morning, I took my kids out on a queen walk and a lovely red fox ran up our hill and through our back yard. The other day, my wife was walking up the cement stairway leading to our house when she saw a ribbon of green dart by. It turned out to be a green tree snake! These are perennial visitors to my weedy jungle yard.

IMG 1189
IMG 5575

Being insectivores, they've sadly fell on hard times. As more yards are pumped full of pesticides and filled up with Eurasian ornamentals, there are far fewer insects to hunt for these emerald beauties. They love hunting in my tall "weeds", though, so I'm happy to have a little sanctuary for them here.

 

Monarda fistulosa is in full bloom now. This is a native member of the diverse mint family of plants. Seeds are SO easy to sow because they need no pre-germination treatment. The other benefit is that these can thrive in dry clay where other plants would never grow. The leaves can be used as a mint substitute in recipes and native peoples used them to brew a calming anti-anxiety tea. The plant tops the chart in insect/plant interactions; in fact bumblebees will ignore all else whilst this is blooming.

 

Here are some photos of our official state insect, the Yellow Swallowtail Butterfly nectaring on Monarda fistulosa.

IMG 5600
IMG 5599

Edited by ANTdrew, July 3 2019 - 7:55 AM.

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#34 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 9 2019 - 11:00 AM

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Update 7-9-2019

Lots of blooms and insect visitors continue in my native garden. Various butterflies are enjoying the Echinacea purpurea blooms like this Vanessa cardui I saw the other day:

IMG 5578
These migrate north to south, but on a much smaller scale than the famous monarch migration. Their host plants are Asters, which my yard is full of.
 
I planted trumpet creeper vines (Campsis radicans) six years ago, and they've finally bloomed this year. The bright red trumpet flowers are a hummingbird magnet, and this plant is so easy to grow in a variety of conditions. I also noticed ants covering the unopened blooms. There must be some kind of sweet exudate drawing them as you can see in this picture of Crematogaster feeding:
IMG 5617
 
Our native horse nettle (Solanum carolinense) is what I call a Rodney Dangerfield plant: it gets NO respect.
IMG 5583
This is a member of the poisonous nightshade family along with tomatoes and peppers. You can kind of see the resemblance in the flowers. I love this plant because it is a very important pollen source during the early summer. Bumblebees swarm the flowers in the early morning seeking the protein they need during a critical stage in their colony development. It gets these little yellow tomato like fruits on it in the fall as well. I'd like to see more people acknowledge the value of this plant and let some stands of it grow in their yards.

 


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#35 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 17 2019 - 6:58 AM

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Update 7-17-2019
Nothing lasts forever. My beloved garden is under grave threat right now. To explain, our house was built in the 1950s and has many issues. The two biggest are that one corner is settling into the marine clay and water is seeping into the basement. My DW is all up in arms now about selling the house and moving. Fixing the two issues would cost as much as another down payment. Unless I can come up with some other solution, this is a death sentence for my little sanctuary. The first dick that comes in will probably glyphosate everything to kingdom come and start over with Home Depot crap.
So to summarize, this journal may turn out to be my garden’s extended obituary.
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#36 Offline Ant_Dude2908 - Posted July 17 2019 - 8:17 AM

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Update 7-17-2019
Nothing lasts forever. My beloved garden is under grave threat right now. To explain, our house was built in the 1950s and has many issues. The two biggest are that one corner is settling into the marine clay and water is seeping into the basement. My DW is all up in arms now about selling the house and moving. Fixing the two issues would cost as much as another down payment. Unless I can come up with some other solution, this is a death sentence for my little sanctuary. The first dick that comes in will probably glyphosate everything to kingdom come and start over with Home Depot crap.
So to summarize, this journal may turn out to be my garden’s extended obituary.


This cannot happen. This shall not happen. I will not stand for it. I have never seen a green tree snake before, so you obviously are doing something right. It should honestly be illegal to import invasive plants like the ones people have all too often in their gardens, while advocating for making invasive ants illegal. Invasive plants are just as bad, if not worse.
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#37 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 19 2019 - 9:59 AM

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Update 7-19-2019

A great habitat garden has benefits for all the creatures that inhabit it, especially the human ones. Many of my native plants are useful as edible and medicinal plants. Elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis) is an exceptional plant in both of these respects. It bears edible berries this time of year and many parts of the plant have been used for centuries to boost the immune system. None other than Socrates called the European elderberry bush his "medicine chest." Extracts of the plant are sold commercially under brands like Sambucol to treat colds.

IMG 5675
 
I planted two of these bushes on my 30th birthday as tiny bare root saplings. Now they form a huge hedge along my fence. My favorite use for the plant is to make elderberry wine by boiling the fruits down into a syrup that I mix with honey, water and wine yeast. There is something about this fruit that the yeast go absolutely nuts for (in fact, my first time making this I just used wild yeast from the fruits themselves instead of commercial wine yeast)! The resulting libation is both delicious and potent! I started work on this year's vintage last week. After fermenting, we age it until the holiday season to save a bit of summer time in a bottle.
 
The small white flowers on the plant appear in May and draw many pollinators. Mockingbirds, catbirds and many other species adore the fruits. Another great benefit of the plant are the hollow pithy stems that provide shelter for cavity nest insects such as solitary bees and some species of ants.

Edited by ANTdrew, July 19 2019 - 10:00 AM.

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#38 Offline Leo - Posted July 19 2019 - 7:29 PM

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A garden. Wow

I don't understand. are you being sarcastic or genuinely interested/surprised?

 

Mate, gardens are a luxury most people in hong kong do not posess. You are lucky.


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#39 Offline ANTdrew - Posted July 20 2019 - 2:58 AM

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I know I’m lucky, for sure. I’m always giving thanks for my garden and the life in it.
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#40 Offline Acutus - Posted July 22 2019 - 12:54 PM

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Wow you really got me with the rough Green Snake!! I'm a Reptile person and they are extremely difficult to find! Excellent job. I truly hope you are able to get things worked out for your house! :D


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Currently keeping:

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Formica subsericea





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