FROM:        Sandy Robinson, President, National Garden Clubs, Inc.
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:
home depotI 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.

Mary Ellen Miller, Shady Oaks Garden Club, River Ridge LA

TOWER HILL BOTANIC GARDEN PASSES The Friends of the Norfolk Library have funded half price passes for admission to Tower Hill Botanic Garden for 2 persons. They are available at the library or can be reserved on their online link.

May Garden Tips by Neal Sanders

garlic mustardGarlic mustard.  This highly invasive plant has arrived and is threatening our forests.  In some areas it has all but eliminated the native forest floor plants, and even has the ability to stop the germination of some tree seeds.  You are most likely to find it around the edges of your lawns and gardens, in disturbed areas, under shrubs and so forth.  Pulling it whenever you see it is the first line of defense.

Gypsy moth and winter moth caterpillar check.  The Massachusetts Department ofEmerging gypsy moth caterpillars are susceptible to a spraying of BT-K Agriculture reports that gypsy moth caterpillars are emerging from the egg masses laid in trees last fall.  Check trees on your property daily for signs of them.  If you see tiny caterpillars, it’s time to act.  BT-K (Bacillus thuringiensis K) is an environmentally friendly spray available at local nurseries.  When the caterpillars ingest the BT-K, it will kill them.  But even with this, please use it carefully and read the application information.  Our thus-far wet spring offers hope that, in future years, a naturally-occurring fungus will keep the population of gypsy moths in check.

Deadhead daffdodils so they put their energy into strengthening their bulbFeed your bulbs now — before, during, or after they have bloomed.  This helps the foliage to send food to the bulb which it will use to grow next spring’s flowers.  Do NOT cut off foliage, or braid it until it has turned yellow, or you will not have blooms in 2018.  Hate the look of yellowing foliage?  Plant annual among them to hide it.  As the flowers on your spring bulbs wilt, do them a favor and pop off their heads.  You want your bulb to put its energy into producing more bulbs, not producing a hybrid seed from whatever pollen it received. 

Don’t let weeds get a start in your garden!  Weeds in flower beds are usually easy toStart your vegetable garden weeding early. Those weeds are competing for light and water. spot and so are pulled early.  Do the same in your vegetable garden.  Weeds are thieves of water, light, nutrients and the precious room to grow.  Weeding early means they don’t get to set seeds and make more weeds.

Plant a pollinator garden.  Want to do a good deed for the bees and butterflies in your neighborhood?  Plant a small pollinator garden.  Find a sunny spot anywhere on your property and clear a space.  Plant seeds at the depth specified on the package.  Here’s a quick list of flowers that grow easily from seed and benefit the environment: bachelor buttons, cosmos, nasturtium, poppies, and zinnias.  Keep the area you planted watered until the new plants have grown.  Seeds that dry out won’t sprout. 

Neonicotinoids are liked to bee colony collapse. Please avoid any plant treated with this neurotoxin.Steer clear of neonics.  As you visit garden centers looking for annuals and perennials for your garden, you may well encounter plants with tags like the one pictured (some are prominent, others are buried).  They say the seeds that grew the plant were treated with neonicotinoids, a neuro-toxic pesticide.  When seeds are coated with this pesticide, the pesticide will appear in every part of the plant-leaves, flowers pollen-making the plant deadly to insects that come to pollinate it.  These tags have even been found on milkweed (grown to feed butterflies) for sale in the South at Home Depots.

Want shorter, stronger flowers?  Pinch back chrysanthemums at the end of May.  The same treatment works well with any perennial that is growing now but won’t bloom until fall.