From One Small Stem

One small stem cutting turned into a behemoth plant stuck in a planter.

I wanted to make sure I had a back-up Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea),which attracts all kinds of pollinators, and decided to start a cutting in my self-watering planter.  It is an excellent planter to start cuttings and seeds in as it will stay damp.

Unfortunately, I paid very little attention to the size the cuphea had become until it had taken up my entire planter. It had to be removed and it was no easy job.  It took a lot of time and tools to free it.

The Cuphea is looking as droopy as I felt after hard work on a hot day.

Note: The plant is much more colorful than the cutting in the first photo.

And I was being watched the entire time.  I found this Rosy Wolf Snail that had crawled to the top of the garbage bag.


Bisected

The Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar perfectly bisected a Passion Flower.


If You Plant It, They Will Come

I mentioned on a previous post, that I was trying to grow the correct Passion Flower to attract the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly.  I finally got it right.  Several have arrived.

The Butterflies got to work and laid eggs which have already hatched into a new generation.

Even more exciting, I found five Pipe-vine Swallow Tail caterpillars on my Aristolochia fimbriata.

The nurseryman was correct with his advice that the butterflies would come.  The plant is nearly gone, but that was the plan.  I collected some of the seeds for next year’s plants and butterflies.


A Beastly Bug

Most consider bugs beastly, especially when they show up in human spaces and mess with our stuff.  This creature is over the top.  Maybe E.T.’s are what we call bugs.

I was standing on my patio when this insect dropped out of the air onto the arm of a chair.  It looked like some kind of grasshopper with prey.  I grabbed my cell phone and started snapping.  The bug was more interested in lunch than me, so I was able to get a few photos.  Once I blew up the picture, the true beast emerged.

I had no idea what this creature was, when it popped up on “pbm garden” blog from North Carolina.  She identified it as a Red-footed Cannibal Fly (Promachus rufipes) and I think the name fits it.

 


Chocolate Plant

Chocolate Plants ( Pseuderanthemum alata) are heirloom passalong plants in the South.  Mine was passed to me by my mother-in-law.  It gets its name from its chocolatey color.

I always keep some in a pot, but I have been trying to start colonies in various beds.  I am having a good outcome in the back bed near my wooded area.

The Chocolate Plant will make a flower stalk of purple flowers.  The seeds are tiny and I usually let them fall where they may and transplant the seedlings when I find them.

This one planted itself in cobble rocks and became to hard to dig up without damaging it. The plants grow bigger each year and hopefully I’ll have a beautiful display in a couple of years.


Strawberry Pot

Strawberry pots can sometimes be hard to fill, but the Automatic Garden had a solution.  Wishbone Flowers (Torenia fournieri) had germinated all over from last year’s plants.  I transplanted all the free plants into the strawberry pot and was rewarded with a beautiful display.  Best of all, my patio cracks will be full of plants for next year.


Cow Killer Caught In the Act

I had two previous posts on the killers.  The first was on Cicada Killer Wasps that dig tunnels, fill them with Cicadas and lay their eggs on them.  There are not many Cicada Killer Wasps (sphecius speciosus) in the yard now, although I saw one working on this hole this morning.  The Cow Killer Wasp (Dasymutilla occidentalis) found it.

I caught the female Cow Killer, that is often called a Red Velvet Ant, backing out of the hole where she lays her eggs in the Cicada Killer’s tunnel which hatch first and eat the stored Cicada.

The deed was done and she scurried away.


Got Kids? Make a Watering Can

A recycled watering can is a fun project to make.  Actually, the fun begins when your little helper uses it.  Recycle a laundry detergent bottle with a spout.  Rinse it well.

The bottles come in different sizes, so the smaller ones are better for the younger kids.  Drill several small holes in the lid.  The holes can be made with a hammer and nail if you don’t have a drill.

Now you have a watering can made of recycled materials.  The best part about this can is that it limits how much water comes out at a time and prevents over watering by little helpers.

I found it useful for the adult gardener as a second watering can that can be used to hold fertilizer for a specific plant.  I was gifted a tropical fruit tree, which I feed with special fertilizer and it is nice to have dedicated can to keep the mix in.


What’s In a Name? Part 2 Cow Killer

The name Cicada Killer doesn’t seem quite as scary as Cow Killer.  This stunning red and black Dasymutilla occidentalis is rumored to have a sting powerful enough to kill a cow.  It will not kill a cow, but hurts really bad for humans.  The above photo is a male and they lack  stingers.

The females are wingless and pack a potent sting.  I did not have that information on the morning I spent watching the drama of their lives play out.  The female is also call a Red Velvet Ant and she sure is pretty.  The female has a difficult journey.  While I watched, she was pursued by many suitors at once.  Her goal is to lay her eggs in the Cicada Killers Wasps’ tunnel.

Needless to say, the wasps were not welcoming.  It seems like a rough life for the Red Velvet Cow Killer, but as it turns out she has many defense mechanisms and is hardly ever eaten.  A study was done and 59 predators were given the chance to eat the Red Velvet Cow Killer and only two succeeded.  The Cow Killer is one tough lady and lives up to her name.


What’s In a Name? Part 1 Cicada Killer

These two inch long wasps are scary enough, but the name Cicada Killer makes one think twice about them. They have the less scary proper name of Sphecius speciosus. The giant wasp does kill cicadas, but otherwise ignores humans.  I must have dozens of them this year.  They fly close to the ground and I can stand among them as the large females circle around.

The calls from cicadas have lessened as the female Cicada Killers collect them to take into the 10 inch tunnels that are being dug in all my beds.  Meanwhile, the males fly around and spar with each other and mate with the females.

I have found many more of these sandy nests around the yard this year compared to previous years.  A few times I have seen a female go into a tunnel and once saw a wasp dive into the nest with a cicada which they lay their eggs on to feed their larva. While these wasps are pretty chill, I did see one chase a hummingbird away from her territory. Sadly, these big gals only live 60 to 75 days and their only goal in life is to reproduce.

I checked through my blog and realized I have posted quite a few times on these wasps.  Check out the links if you would like more information on these fascinating creatures.