Friday, October 30, 2009

Citrus Trees

In addition to providing yummy fruit,  citrus trees are also a host for the Giant Swallowtail, the largest butterfly in North America.   The Giant Swallowtail caterpillar is the only caterpillar that has its own name - Orangedog - because, it hosts on orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit trees.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gardening for Butterflies

Want to attract more butterflies to your landscape? Taffy, a Master Gardener and butterfly expert extraordinaire, has a list of books just for you.


Glassberg J.
1999. Butterflies Through Binoculars: The East. Oxford University Press. 416 pages. ISBN: 0195106687.

Glassberg J. 2001. Butterflies Through Binoculars: The West. Oxford University Press. 374 pages. ISBN: 0195106695

Neck, R.W. 1996. A Field Guide to the Butterflies of Texas. Gulf Publishing Co. 323 pgs. ISBN: 0-87719-243-X

Opler, P.A. 1992. A Field Guide to Eastern Butterflies. Houghton Mifflin Co. 393 pgs. ISBN: 0-395-36452-3 (cloth). 0-395-63279-X (paperback).

Pyle, R. M. 1981. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Alfred A. Knoph Co. 916 pgs. ISBN: 0-394-51914-0.

Scott, J. A. 1986 The Butterflies of North America, A Natural History and Field Guide. Stanford University Press. 583 pgs. ISBN: 0-8047-1205-0.

Tveten, J.L. & Tveten, G. 1996. Butterflies of Houston and Southeast Texas. University of Texas Press. 292 pgs. ISBN. 0-292-78142-3 (cloth) 0-292-78143-1 (paperback).


Ajilvsgi, G.
1990. Butterfly Gardening for the South. Taylor Publishing co. 342. pgs. ISBN: 0-87833-738-5.

Wasowski, S. 1997. Native Texas Plants, Landscaping Region by Region. Texas Monthly Press. 406 pgs. ISBN: 0-87719-111-5.

Xerces Society. 1990. Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in your Garden. Sierra Club Books. ISBN: 0-871856-615-X.


Everitt, J.H. and Drawe, D.L.
1993. Trees, Shrubs, and Cacti of South Texas. Texas Tech University Press. 213 pgs. ISBN: 0-89672-252-X (cloth) 0-89672-253-8 (paperback).

Lonard, R.I., Everitt, J.H. and Judd, F.W. 1991. Woody Plants of the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Texas Memorial Museum. 179 pgs. ISBN: 0082-3082-7.

Richardson, A. 1995. Plants of the Rio Grande Delta. University of Texas Press. 332 pgs. ISBN: 0-292-77068 (cloth) 0-292-77070-7 (paperback).

Taffy's Gardening For Butterflies Tips Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Vegetable Gardening

I am a Winter Texan and would like to plant some herbs and vegetable when I arrive mid-October. Do you have a list of things I can plant at that time, or early November? I have an acre and a half of land, a rotor tiller and all the water necessary.   -  Valerie S

Fall is a wonderful time in the Rio Grande Valley to plant vegetables and herbs.  Specific items are listed on our website in the "Monthly To-Do" section.  

Fall and winter vegetables include:
brussel sprouts
leaf lettuces
Personally, I also grow tomatoes (from transplants) in my fall garden. Cherry, roma, and other smaller varieties have a shorter maturation date and do better for me in the fall. Some years we get lots of tomatoes and others it gets colder earlier and they don't fruit until spring.

Herbs that can be grown during the fall and winter include
Mexican marigold
Many of these herbs will carry over into the spring and summer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Cameron County Master Gardeners for 2009

On Oct 7, 2009, the Cameron County Master Gardeners held their Graduation Ceremonies at the Historic Dancy Building in Brownsville. What a lovely evening with the graduates and family members and guest in attendance. Invited guest speaker from College Station, Ms. Jayla Fry, State Coordinator for the Master Gardener Program and Debby Cox, Master Gardener since 1996 both giving their every own interpretation of what the volunteer service and program has done for them. It was an enjoyable evening and I thank the New Master Gardeners for their dedication in completing their internship. I know they will share their knowledge with the Community and I hope they continue be a part of this Association.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The RGV Birding Festival has tons of fields trips planned -  I hope to take a canoe trip down the Rio Grande this year.  

If you are into Wildscapes - or gardening to attract birds and other wildlife to your yard - this one may be for you!

WILDSCAPING                                Fee $35  
Saturday / 8am – 12pm

Isn’t it fun to see other people’s creative landscaping? That’s what we do on this entertaining excursion, visiting the yards of local nature enthusiasts, and learning how to use native plants, ornamentals, and water features to attract and provide homes for birds, butterflies, and other critters.

Facts: Moderate walking, mostly flat on grass, dirt, pavement. Restrooms not available at most sites. Shade and sun. Insects possible.

You can check out all the field trips here.

FYI - The RGV Birding Festival is scheduled for November 12-15 in Harlingen, Texas.   If  you aren't able to participate in any of the field trips or lectures, the Trade Show is worth a visit.  Lots to do for kiddos and adults alike!   While you're there drop by the Cameron County Master Gardener booth.  We'll have some gardening information and we'll be selling a huge variety of herbs.  

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 12, 2009

Gardening for Butterflies - Taffy's Tips

We feel bad for those of you who weren't able to attend Taffy Herridge's terrific presentation on "Gardening for Butterflies" last Saturday at The  Arboretum.  Here's a little of the information she shared.

South Texas Butterfly Gardening Tips
1. Start your garden with proven nectar-rich flowering plants.
2. Plant the larval foods (the ones the caterpillars munch on) for those butterflies you wish to keep.
3. Use native varieties, if possible - varieties from other localities are second-best.
4. Never use insecticides.   Deter pests with biological agents or sticky traps.
5. Avoid artificial fertilizer.   Use organic fertilizers or compost.
6. Never use herbicides.  Weed your garden by hand.
7. Provide a watering hole to allow mud-puddling of the butterflies.
8. Arrange to have shelter from the wind.
9. Use a sunny spot.  Plants produce more nectar in the sun.
10. Place some large rocks around for the butterflies to sun themselves on.
11. Plants started from March through th esummer will need sufficient mulch to prevent water loss.
12. Don't trim shrubs after August 1st.  Trimming later cuts down on blooms and you could haul off chrysalis.

The following plants will furnish larval food and nectar for the adults all year round.

Nectar Sources for Butterflies
Buddleia                    Lippia                      Turk's Cap
Verbena                    Penta                        Mistflower
Sunflower                 Kidneywood             White Brush
Frogfruit                   Milkweed                 Goldenrod
Indian Blanket          Pavonia                     Baby Bonnets
Abutilon                   Plumbago                  Salvia
Sweet Stem             Lantana                     Pyramid Bush
Scarlet Sage            Duranta                     Zinnias

Host Plants for Caterpillars
Butterfly (Caterpillar) - Host Plant
Pipevine Swallowtail - Pipevine
Giant Swallowtail - Colima, Amyris, Barreta
Checkered White - Mustards
Southern Dogface - Amorpha, Dalea
Large Orange Sulpher - Texas Ebony
Lyside Sulpher - Guayacan
Little Yellow - Cassia
Mallow Scrub-Hairstreak - Sida, Abutilon, Hibiscus
Western Pygmy Blue - Saltbush, Pigweed
Reakirt's Blue - Kidneywood, Mesquite
American Snout - Granjeno
Gulf Fritillary, Julia, Zebra - Passionvines
Bordered Patch - Sunflower, Mistflower
Texan Crescent - Ruellia
Red Admiral - Nettles
White Peacock - Lippia, Ruellia, Frogfruit
Tropical Leafwing - Crotons
Tawny Emperor - Sugar Hackberry
Monarch, Queen, Soldier - Milkweed
Whitepatch Skipper - Manzanita

Taffy's Favorite Butterfly Plants
Common Name / Scientific Name / Host / Bloom period
Blue Mistflower / Eupatorium odoratum / Rounded Metalmark / Oct-Nov
Betony Mistflower / Eupatorium betonififiolium / Rounded Metalmark / Spring-Fall
Texas Lantana / Lantana horrida / _____/ Spring - Fall
Desert Lantana / Lantana macropoda / Gray Hairstreek / Most times
West Indies Lantana / Lantana camara / __ / Most times
Mexican Butterfly Weed /  __ / Monarch, Queen, Soldier / Most times
Passion Vine / Passiflora foetida / Gulf Fritillary / Spring - Fall
Corky Passionflower / Passiflora suberosa / Zebra, Julia Heloconia / Fall
Heliotrope / Heliotrope / Adult Nectar Plant
Texas Frogfruit / Phyla incisa / White Peacock, Phaon Crescent/ Spring - Fall
March Fleabana / Pluchea dorata / Nectar Plant / Summer
Fennel & Rue / __ / Black Swallowtail /
Candlestick Tree / Cassia alata / Most Sulphers / 

Interesting Butterfly Links
Butterfly Festival, Mission, Texas   October 22-24, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October To-Do List for South Texas Gardeners

Time to plant:

Flowers: calendula, daylilies, geraniums, iris (Dutch bulbs) petunias, ranunculus bulbs, stocks, impatiens, anembulbs, pansies, snapdragons.

Trees: montezuma bald cypress, black willow, granjeno, sugar hackberry, cedar elm, tenaza, Texas huisache, Wright’s catclaw.

Shrubs: hibiscus, cenizo or purple sage, bougainvillea, Drummond’s Turk’s cap, blackbrush, chapotillo, chilipiquin, white brush.

Vegetables: beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, onions, spinach.

Herbs: basil, chervil, chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic chives, Mexican marigold, mint, parsley, rue, rosemary, sage, spinach, thyme.

- Spray citrus trees for scale, mites and fungal diseases with a combination insecticide, miticide, fungicide spray. See your local nursery or garden center for advice and materials. Remember to read and follow directions and all precautions. NOTE: before spraying see if you have beneficial insects working for you. Call the Cameron County Extension office for more information.
-Fall budding should occur this month.
-Last fertilizer application for mums and poinsettias.
-Mulch around the base of newly plants trees and shrubs.
-Prepare the soil for your rose garden. Use a soil conditioner with gypsum to improve soil drainage. Read the November 1st article on ‘Roses, Planting and Care’.
-Prepare you flower gardens for bulb planting. Bulbs like a well drained soil so use gypsum and peatmoss or well rotted compost.
-Check indoor plants for scale and mealy bug.
-Fertilize your 6 to 8 week old vegetables with ammonium nitrate.
-Watch for leaf worm and beetles on vegetables late in October.
-Harvest: squash, cucumbers, greens, beans, citrus and avocados.
-See your local Texas Certified Nursery Professional for additional expert information on local gardening and landscaping.

(Information source: Successful Gardening in the Magic Valley of Texas, Dist. VI, Texas Garden Clubs, Inc. and Native Trees- and Native Shrubs-of the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas Landscape Uses and Identification, Native Plant Project, PO 1433, Edinburg, TX)