Mailbag

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January 27, 2019
It’s time again to dig through the Southern Gardening mailbag. Let’s answer some questions and get ready for the coming spring and summer seasons. Hey Doc, I want to attract butterflies to my garden this year and I’m confused. What’s the difference between butterfly bush and butterflyweed? These are two staples for any butterfly garden. Here’s the differences. Butterfly bush is known botanically as Buddleja. The sweetly fragrant panicles are composed of tiny flowers in various shades of white, blue, purple, pink, red, and even yellow. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love these flowers. Butterfly weed is known botanically as Asclepias. Butterfly weed grows up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide. This plant produces clusters of tubular flowers with various shades of orange, yellow or red. The long oblong leaves are the primary forage for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars. I hope that helps. Gary, there’s this gray green moldy looking “stuff” on my crape myrtle. Is this going kill my tree? The gray-green moldy looking material is actually an organism called lichen. Lichen is an unlikely combination of a fungus and an algae living in a symbiotic relationship on the plants bark. The algae supply the food via photosynthesis and the fungus gathers the water and other needed nutrients. Lichen are not parasites. Trees and shrubs are only used by the lichen for support. Keep sending those questions to me at southerngardening@msstate.edu and I’ll answering them as fast as I can. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.

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