A mild winter and early spring have given black swallowwort an ominous head start. It looks like a vine as it grows, then a pretty purple flower appears (in June this year) and finally a pod full of seeds (July and August). While the pods look somewhat like those on milkweed, they will kill monarch butterfly larva that hatch from eggs laid on these plants. Pull the entire plant (it will come out easily) by hand before the flowers ripen into pods. Keep an eye on the area because swallowwort may re-appear. Do not compost or throw any swallowwort into other areas. It will aggressively cover everything in your garden. Bag and add to your trash any swallowwort you find on your own property, then encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Once the blooms have died, it’s time to prune spring blooming shrubs such as rhododendron, spirea and lilac; and trees such as magnolia and dogwood for size or shape. Doing it now means you will not risk removing next year’s flowers. Even if you do not need to prune, remove all dead flower heads to eliminate a site for diseases and to conserve plant energy which would go producing unwanted seeds.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Move your mower blade to its highest setting; preferably three inches - a height where the grass will shade out most new weeds. The longer grass keeps roots cooler during hot days when it is more susceptible to disease and insect damage in the summer. If your lawn is cut by a service, specifically ask them to raise the blades on their machines to that height when mowing your lawn.