by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
Here are some gardening tips from University of Missouri Extension Horticulture faculty to help you get through July and summer with some color in your flower beds, with healthy trees and lawns, and some tasty crops from your vegetable garden:
Outdoor flowering plants and ornamentals
Deadhead annuals and perennials, if reseeding is not desired, to encourage branching and blooms.
Look for diseased foliage on roses. Practice sanitation and clean up any fallen leaves. Watch for distorted growth and abnormal looking blooms that might indicate rose rosette disease.
Newly planted trees and shrubs should continue to be watered thoroughly at least once a week if regular rains are not occurring.
Monitor trees and shrubs for Japanese beetles. For more information visit: https://ipm.missouri.edu/pestmonitoring/jb/
Divide iris after bloom.
Enjoy beautiful bouquets of flowers from your garden!
Water newly planted trees and shrubs thoroughly, once a week.
Keep up with weeding. Do not let weeds go to seed.
Do not fertilize trees and shrubs after July 4th to prevent new growth that may lead to winter injury.
Blossom-end rot of tomato and peppers occurs when soil moisture is irregular or uneven. Mulch plants to discourage this problem.
Irrigate regularly during dry weather and mulch sufficiently around vegetable plants to conserve the moisture. Water at the base of plants to keep foliage dry to help prevent diseases in the garden.
Dig potatoes when tops die. Pull onions when tops fall over and start to turn brown. Harvest garlic when about 1/2 of the leaves turn yellow. Dry in a ventilated area and store in a cool, dry place. for more information, see MU Extension Guide g6226 Vegetable Harvest and Storage https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6226.
Make successive plantings of corn, beans, cucumbers and summer squash to be able to harvest into fall.
Scout for insect and disease problems in the garden. Many pests can be controlled with a strong blast of water from the hose or by hand picking and squashing. If you use a biological or conventional pesticide, read and carefully follow directions on label.
For information about plant diseases, see MU extension guide g6203 Common Diseases in the Home Garden https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6203.
After harvesting ripe tomatoes, they can be stored between 55 to 60 degrees F up to one week.
Fertilize established plantings of rhubarb and asparagus. Keep ahead of the weeds.
Fruits and Nut trees
Prune out and destroy old fruiting canes of raspberries and blackberries after harvest is complete. Watch for diseased canes and plants.
Blackberries are starting to ripen. Get ready for picking!!
Scout peach trees for brown rot. A preventative spray schedule can keep disease and insects at bay. For more information, see MU extension guide Fruit Spray Schedules for the Homeowner https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6010.
To keep birds away from fruit trees, try different scare tactics like fake snakes, owls, scare crows, pie pans, old CDs, and wind chimes.
June bearing strawberries need summer care. If you have your plants in hills, pick off all runners. If you planted a matted row, encourage the runners to root and grow until the row is 2 feet wide.
Early season peach, pear and apple variety harvest begins.
Cool season lawns
Tall fescue and/or Kentucky bluegrass
Restrict heavy nitrogen fertilization on cool-season lawns in July in Missouri. At most, 0.5 lb. N per 1000 sq ft could be used on nitrogen starved cool-season lawns.
Water if needed. Water infrequently to a depth of 4-6 inches. Avoid puddles and runoff. Don't overwater, as that can promote fungal growth. This is worse than having some drought stress. Tall fescue can undergo some drought stress and recover.
For more information, see MU extension guide g6705 Cool-season Grasses: Lawn Maintenance Calendar https://extension2.missouri.edu/g6705.
Rapidly growing lawns need frequent mowing. Taller mowing heights of about 3 1/2 to 4 inches reduce the chance for turf scalping.
Mulch clippings. Only remove if they are excessive and cover the turf canopy.
Warm Season Lawns
Fertilize lawn at 0.5 lb nitrogen (N) per 1000 sq ft.
Mow at 1-2 inches height frequently, approximately once a week.
Zoysiagrass is drought tolerant. Watering should not be necessary except for prolonged dry periods.
Contact MU Extension in Jackson County, 816-252-5051, for more gardening information.
Create a unique wearable work of art during a free workshop at Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center on Saturday, July 10th.
The Center will host a native flower "clay bead" jewelry class on Saturday, July 10th from 2:00pm—3:30pm. Registration required (adults and teens 14+).
Registrants will craft a unique wearable work of art with acrylic “clay” as a set of earrings, a necklace pendant, or a brooch. Learn about some of our beautiful and essential native plants as you craft your jewelry from one of many basic flower shapes...flowering dogwood, sunflower, wild ginger and more.
Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center is located at
1401 NW Park Rd, Blue Springs.
To register for the class, call 816-228-3766.
Summer is finally here! The warm weather and long days are great for enjoying time with friends and family, but it also brings along three unwelcome guests to your backyard festivities – disease, weeds, and insects.
From brown patch to crabgrass to grubs, Westlake Ace Hardware offers these tips to identify and treat some of the most common pests that plague lawns during the summer.
Dollar spot is one of the most common diseases that plague lawns every summer. Easily identified as small, silver-dollar-sized patches of brown grass, dollar spot affects nearly every type of turfgrass – including fescue, ryegrass, bluegrass, bermudagrass, and zoysiagrass. The disease tends to occur from late spring into autumn, particularly after periods of heavy rain or humidity and evening temperatures above 60 degrees F.
In addition to keeping mowing heights around four inches and not over-watering the lawn during periods of excess precipitation and humidity, dollar spot and other turf diseases can be prevented and cured throughout the growing season with monthly (every four weeks) applications of a fungicide like BioAdvanced Granules.
Powdery mildew is another common fungus that affects a wide variety of landscape plants. It’s easily identified as light gray or white powdery spots on leaves. Like dollar spot, powdery mildew thrives during periods of high precipitation and humidity and warm evening temperatures. Though rarely a fatal disease, it is unsightly and can rob plants of valuable nutrition – which causes weak stems, slow growth, and fewer blooms. To help prevent powdery mildew, thin out and relocate susceptible plants to improve airflow, make consistent applications (according to label instructions) of a copper fungicide like Bonide, and remove dead or diseased foliage (making sure to disinfect the tools afterward).
When it comes to common summer weeds, crabgrass is king. Found in all types of lawns, it gets its name from the stems that radiate out from the main clump – which resemble crab legs. It loves hot and dry weather, can spread quickly, and leaves thousands of seeds in the ground that can germinate in the spring. Though it is far easier to prevent crabgrass growth in the early spring with one or two applications of a “preemergent” that both feeds the lawn and forms a barrier against weed germination, homeowners can also spot treat for it throughout the summer with a ready-to-use product like Ortho WeedClear.
Insects like grubs, mosquitos, fleas, Japanese beetles, and ticks can devastate lawns and plants – and cause health issues for humans and pets alike. One of the best ways to prevent pests from ruining backyard summer fun is to avoid creating the right breeding ground for them. Regularly remove, replace, and clean all sources of water such as birdbaths – where pests like mosquitos can lay their eggs. Keep the grass cut and the landscape tidy, as overgrown areas make the perfect homes for all kinds of insects.
by Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Horticulture Instructor
May rains helped make June a great month to add new plants to your landscape and more variety to your vegetable and herb gardens. The possibilities are limitless. Here are a few suggestions:
Peonies: Long-lived Perennials- Peonies are putting on a beautiful show in our region now. They are a traditional flower of Memorial Day.
In the 1800s, when the holiday was called Decoration Day, peonies were one of the few flowers in bloom in late May and were widely used to adorn the graves of fallen soldiers, said David Trinklein, University of Missouri Extension horticulturist.
Today, they line the sidewalks and backyards of older homes and often serve as reminders of where farmsteads once stood. Peonies stand the test of time—lasting years, decades or even a century when undisturbed.
Peonies thrive with relatively little care, and their self-sufficient nature makes them one of America’s most treasured garden flowers for weddings, fresh bouquets and grave decorations.
They come in a range of colors including white, pink, and deep red. They are deer-resistant and, for the most part, pest-resistant.
The nectar inside peony buds can attract ants, which are not harmful to the plants. After peonies bloom, the ants move on to find a new food source.
Unlike most perennials, peonies rarely need to be divided, and they can be challenging to transplant, said Trinklein.
Peonies do best when planted in sunny parts of your yard and in loamy soils. Space 3-4 feet apart in an area that receives at least six hours of sun per day.
Avoid these mistakes with peonies:
• Avoid planting in areas that get a lot of wind because peonies can become top-heavy when budded or flowering; stems can droop on the ground.
• Avoid moving plants unless absolutely necessary. If you must move, do so in the fall after they have gone dormant.
• Do not use an insecticide to kill ants on peonies.
• Fertilize sparingly. Too much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, results in fewer flowers.
Cut peonies do not last long, but when buds are immature (immature flower buds have the consistency of a marshmallow when gently squeezed), they can be cut and stored for later use.
Cut at an angle, put stems in water and cover with cellophane. Store in the refrigerator and bring out later and allow to bloom.
Sweet Potatoes: A Nutritious and Versatile Vegetable Crop- Sweet potatoes are definitely a warm season crop. They can be planted until mid-June and harvested in the fall. They need well-drained soil and full sun. Rooted stems, called slips, are sold at garden centers and nurseries now. Plant so that all the roots are covered by soil. Keep the sweet potato bed or row weeded until the plants get established.
Once they start growing and vining, the abundant leaves shade out most weeds and help keep the soil moist. Harvest in September to early October before a frost or freeze occurs.
Sweet potato leaves are edible, too. They can be prepared with a range of cooking methods similar to spinach. Here is an interesting article from University of California- Davis on using sweet potato leaves, which includes a simple recipe and instructions- https://horticulture.ucdavis.edu/blog/cooking-sweet-potato-leaves-for-nutrition
Basil: A Fragrant and Edible Addition to your Garden. Basil loves warm temperatures. It also prefers a sunny location. Add basil to your yard by planting it in containers, in an herb garden, or mixed in with your vegetable or flower garden.
Basil comes in a wide range of flavors, from the traditional Sweet Basil to the licorice-flavored Thai Basil. Here is a link to a University of Minnesota Extension article on adding basil to your gardening repertoire- https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-basil#choosing-basil-varieties-932110
For more gardening information, contact Cathy Bylinowski, MU Extension Horticulture Instructor, firstname.lastname@example.org, 816-252-5051.
by Cathy Bylinowski, M.S., Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension
May is a great time to start a vegetable or ornamental garden, to plant shrubs and trees, and to take care of the lawn. Here are some tips to help you get started on a wide range of gardening activities:
Pinch back mums to promote compact, bushy growth.
Lightly side-dress perennials, including spring bulbs, with a 5-10-10 or 10-10-10 fertilizer, being careful to avoid the center or crown of the plant.
Some common ground covers suitable for sunny locations include Ajuga, creeping phlox, and creeping juniper.
Do not remove spring bulb foliage prematurely or next year's flower production will decline. Foliage should be left to feed the bulb via photosynthesis. Bulbs can be moved or divided as foliage dies. Bulbs can also be marked for fall transplanting and division.
Prune blooming shrubs right after flowers have faded if needed.
Check for newly hatched bagworms on evergreens and conifers. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g7250 The Bagworm in Missouri https://extension.missouri.edu/g7250.
Plant tomatoes in warm soils.
Mulch around plants and use support stakes or cages at planting time.
Control caterpillars on broccoli and cabbage plants by handpicking or use biological sprays such as B.T. (bacillus thuringiensis) or Spinosad.
Watch for striped and spotted cucumber beetles now. Both may spread wilt and mosaic diseases to squash and cucumber plants.
Remove rhubarb seed stalks as they appear.
Plant peppers and eggplants after soils have warmed.
Plant sweet potato slips now.
Begin planting sweet corn at two-week intervals. For good pollination, plant in block formation with a minimum of 4 rows. Isolate sweet, supersweet and popcorn varieties to prevent cross pollination by separating varieties by 250 feet apart or a difference of 14 days.
Plant multiple plantings of cilantro or keep bloom heads cut off. It tends to go to seed quickly.
Herbs planted in average soils need no extra fertilizer. Too much may reduce flavor and quality at harvest.
Scout for insect and disease problems in the garden. If you use a pesticide, please follow the directions on the label.
Fruit Trees and Berries:
Follow fruit tree spray guide by the University of Missouri Extension. For more information, see MU Extension Guide g6010 Fruit Spray Schedule https://extension.missouri.edu/g6010.
Don't spray insecticides while fruit trees are in bloom. Protect pollinators. Fungicides, however, can still be sprayed.
Keep on top of weeds in the strawberry patch. They can quickly get out of hand. Weeds are detrimental to strawberry plants.
Begin training new shoots on fruit trees. Prune unwanted shoots as they appear.
Mulch blueberries with pine needles or aged sawdust.
Continue thinning peaches and apples to promote large fruit size and prevent limb breakage.
Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass
Mow lawns at 3.5–4 inches, frequently (once a week) if lawn is quickly growing. Do not mow too short!
Restrict nitrogen applications to 0.5 lb. Nitrogen per month or less, particularly quickly available soluble forms.
Apply postemergence broadleaf herbicides for summer weeds. If needed, start postemergence control of crabgrass, goosegrass or nutsedge near the end of the month.
Watch for first brood of sod webworm which is rare. Apply curative insecticides only if needed.
Wait for lawn to completely green up prior to mowing at a height of 1.5–2 inches.
Later in the month, monitor for large patch disease which is prevalent in wet springs.
Mulching and Weed Control:
Four to five layers of newspaper will serve as an effective mulch in the garden. Water the newspaper as it is applied and cover it with sawdust or straw to weigh it down, to reduce the white glare and prevent it from blowing away.
If weeds get out of control this summer, consider smothering them out with black plastic or heavy cardboard weighted down to keep the wind from blowing it away.
Have fun gardening this month! Enjoy the cool and sunny weather. Get ready for summer!
Visit the main MU Extension website to find more horticulture information- https://extension.missouri.edu/
To subscribe to the free online monthly newsletter Missouri Environment and Gardens and other MU Extension garden related publications, visit this website- https://ipm.missouri.edu/subscribe/
by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) will host a native plant sale from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 15, at the Anita B. Gorman Discovery Center in Kansas City. Visitors can peruse the plants that vendors bring, but they can also pre-order online or by phone from participating vendors and pick them up at the event.
Native wildflowers and grasses offer lovely blooms, colors, and textures in landscape garden plantings. Many will benefit from some tender care in the days after planting, such as watering and removing weed competition. Kansas City’s up and down weather can stress new plantings. But once established with deep roots systems, natives can often survive weather variances better than non-natives. Using a variety of plants can extend blooms in the garden from spring into autumn.
Another benefit from native plants, shrubs, and trees is that they benefit songbirds, butterflies, and other urban wildlife. Many non-natives do not host insects that are vital food for songbirds during spring nesting season. They also are not host plants for butterfly and moth larvae.
At the May 15 event, visitors can talk with MDC staff, MPF volunteers, and vendors about natives. Knowing what plants work best in soil and sunlight types can make a big difference in growing success. COVID-19 safety protocols such as physical distancing and face masks will be followed.
The participating vendors and their contact information for preordering:
GALLENA'S GARDEN: View the plant list here and email your order to email@example.com(link sends e-mail) by Thursday, May 13. After ordering, they will send an invoice for the purchase.
OZARK SOUL: Order via email or phone by noon on Friday, May 14: firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail); 816-809-4062, Please visit https://www.ozarksoul.com/availability.php for a current availability list. In your email or voicemail, please include your phone number and note the date and location. After your order has been placed, Ozark Soul will email you to give you the payment details.
MISSOURI WILDFLOWERS NURSERY: Order by calling 573-496-3492, by email at email@example.com(link sends e-mail), or online here by Wednesday, May 12: https://mowildflowers.net/
ALLENDAN SEED COMPANY: Please email firstname.lastname@example.org(link sends e-mail) to request current prices and available mixes. https://www.allendanseed.com/.
COLONIAL GARDENS: More information coming soon. Visit https://colonialgardenskc.com/.
CITY ROOTS, LLC: Order online by Thursday, May 13: https://www.cityrootsnursery.com/plants-for-sale.
GREEN THUMB GARDENS: Order and pay online by Thursday, May 13: https://store.dtekc.com/.
To learn more about the Missouri Prairie Foundation, visit Home - Missouri Prairie Foundation (moprairie.org). For information about using native plants in landscaping, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/Zc8.
by Denise Sullivan, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, MU Extension
Outside of lettuce or other types of leafy greens, peas are one of the early season garden goodies I look forward to every year. While some people might find the shelling of peas a tedious task, I prefer it to snapping beans and find it rather satisfying to ‘zip’ open the pod to get to the treasure inside.
For most purposes, peas may be classified as garden or English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. English peas are further divided into smooth or wrinkled seed varieties. Smooth-seeded varieties are starchier, while wrinkled varieties are sweeter and are commonly used for home and commercial growing.
Snow peas are meant to be harvested as flat, tender pods before the peas inside develop at all. Sugar snap peas have been developed from garden peas to have low-fiber pods that can be snapped and eaten along with the slightly mature peas inside. The starchier smooth-seeded varieties are used to produce ripe seed kernels that are fractured to be used to make split-pea soup. The Southern pea, or cowpea is an entirely different vegetable that is planted and grown in the same manner as beans and legumes.
In the mid 1900’s, studies by Gregor Mendel working with seven characteristics of pea plants (plant height, pod shape and color, seed shape and color, and flower position and color) laid the foundation for modern genetics by identifying dominant and recessive traits in organisms.
Peas are the seed of the Pisum sativum plant, which originated in the Mediterranean region of Greece, Syria & Turkey. They are a frost-hardy, cool-season vegetable grown wherever a cool season of sufficient duration exists. Today, most production occurring outside of the United States is in colder regions like Canada, Russia, England, and France. The highest producing states in the US are Washington, Montana, and North Dakota.
No matter how you roll them, peas are nutrient-dense packages of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (especially iron, potassium, folate and vitamins A and K). A half-cup of cooked green peas contains 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 12 grams of carbohydrate, and 641 IU of vitamin A.
On the flip side, peas also contain phytic acid and lectins, which are often referred to as anti-nutrients, that may interfere with nutrient absorption and promote bloating in some people. To minimize these effects keep serving sizes to around 1/3 to ½ cup, eat them fully cooked instead of raw, and try sprouted or fermented preparations.
Peas can be enjoyed alone as a side dish, or added into soups, stews, or salads. Green peas can even be baked (tossed with a little olive oil and spices) on a baking sheet for a healthy, crunchy snack. Combining fresh peas with grape tomatoes, the pasta dish below can be served warm as a hearty main dish or chilled as a salad by thinning the cheese mixture with lemon juice.
Denise Sullivan is a Nutrition and Health Education Specialist for MU Extension in the Urban West Region, serving Jackson and Platte Counties. For research-based nutrition and food safety information and programs, visit https://extension.missouri.edu/counties/urban-west-region
by Cathy Bylinowski, Horticulture Instructor, University of Missouri Extension- Jackson County
I’m always looking at other people’s yards and admiring their gardens, trees, and flowering shrubs. If I see an attractive plant that is new to me, I try to figure out what it is, if it will grow in my yard, and where I can get one.
This spring, take some time to enjoy the flowering trees and shrubs in your neighborhood, nearby parks, even in the woods and green spaces around you.
If you see some you like, now is a great time to figure out what they are and if they will grow in your yard. Spring is also a good time to plant new flowering trees and shrubs to enjoy for years to come. Here are several spring-flowering trees and shrubs that grow well in western Missouri:
Serviceberry- (Amelanchier arborea)
Serviceberry, native to Missouri, is an attractive small tree with smooth gray bark, that grows on wooded slopes. The snowy white flowers appear in early spring before anything else in the woods has leafed out. Tasty berries appear in June and leaves turn pink and orange in the fall. Unfortunately, invasive, non-native Callery Pears (Bradford Pear being one type) are moving into Missouri natural areas. Do not mistake the white flowers of Bradford Pear for Serviceberry!
(Photo credit: Pixabay by deniseellsworth)
Flowering dogwood- (Cornus florida)
The flowering dogwood is a popular native flowering tree. Johnson County, Missouri is its nearest natural range to the KCMO region. It can be grown in our region, if it is put in a protected, partly shady site in the yard. Growth is fairly slow. Their branching is open and horizontal, with a rounded mature shape. They can get up to 30 feet tall.
Their spectacular white bracts appear before leaves. Small, red fruit persist in fall and attract songbirds. It has lustrous, scarlet foliage in fall, too.
They can be used as specimens, in masses or naturalized under larger trees, preferring moist, humus rich, slightly acidic soils. Avoid planting in hot, dry exposures. Use an organic mulch under the tree. Dogwoods need water during drought. Old or injured specimens are subject to borer damage.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
Eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Redbuds can get up to 30 feet tall. The clusters of purplish pink small flowers clusters appear before leaves emerge. Heart-shaped leaves turn yellow in fall. Plant redbuds as specimens, in masses, or naturalized at edge of woods. They are hardy in sun or part shade and tolerant of a wide range of soils.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)
Lilac is one of the best known and most commonly planted of all the introduced, flowering shrubs. Lilacs are worth having in your yard or garden for their once-a-year display of incredibly fragrant flowers. For the classic lilac fragrance, plant Common Lilac or one of its hybrids.
Lilacs get up to 9 feet tall.
Lilacs perform best in well-drained soils in full sun. Plants should receive at least six hours of direct sun each day for maximum bloom.
Proper pruning is necessary to keep the plants attractive and to promote flower production. After the plant becomes established, about one-third of the old stems should be removed each year. Older lilac stems may be attacked by borers.
(Photo credit: Pixabay by deniseellsworth)
Flowering Magnolias (Magnolia soulangiana)
These magnolias look like beautiful pink clouds in the spring. The only drawback is that the flowers can be damaged by spring freezes. You might enjoy the scented flowers so much that you are willing to take the of risk flowers turning brown some years, after a freeze. There are cultivars that bloom later in the spirng with pink, purple, or yellow flowers. They are worth investigating. Some magnolias can get to 30 feet tall. Plant in protected parts of your yard away from southern exposures.
(Photo credit: C.Bylinowski)
These are some of the many ornamental trees and shrubs, native and introduced, that offer beautiful spring color. Contact me (email@example.com) if you want more information on flowering trees and shrubs.
You can also explore University of Missouri Extension’s website for more information on gardening- https://extension.missouri.edu/.
by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation
Trees with white blooms are too common this spring in many Kansas City area fence lines, parks, and meadows, because non-native Callery pear cultivars planted as ornamentals have hybridized and become very invasive. They invade where they’re not wanted and choke out valuable native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers that nurture songbirds and butterflies.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) urges gardeners and landscapers to consider planting native trees with colorful spring blooms as ornamentals.
Missouri’s state tree, flowering dogwood, provides white blooms and is attractive in lawns, given shady locations. Serviceberry provides early white blooms but also red berries that are edible for people, although birds also love them. Other choices include red buckeye, yellowwood, redbud, blackhaw viburnum, hophornbeam and chokecherry, said Wendy Sangster, MDC community conservation planner.
A mix of tree species will provide a variety of blooms and benefits. Native trees host valuable insects that are important food sources for backyard birds. They boost colorful moths and butterflies.
Invasive Callery pear cultivars host few if any native insects. They do provide berries, which birds eat and then spread the seeds, furthering the invasion. But those berries have very poor nutritional value for birds.
Cultivated varieties of this plant available for sale include Aristocrat, Autumn Blaze, Bradford, Capital, Chanticleer (also known as Cleveland Select), New Bradford, and Redspire, among others. All are invasive and should not be planted.
“Callery pear cultivars are also poor choices in landscaping because they are weak trees and break easily in wind or ice storms,” Sangster said.
MDC offers information about home landscape trees that help people and wildlife at http://www.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/trees-work.
The Heartland Tree Alliance, an MDC partner in the Kansas City metro area, provides information about trees that do well in urban settings, https://www.bridgingthegap.org/heartland-tree-alliance. Another useful source for information about native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees is available at http://www.grownative.org.
by Jill Pritchard, Missouri Department of Conservation
Clean out those feeders and fill them with nectar – hummingbirds will soon arrive in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages the public to learn more about these tiny fliers during their spring migration.
“It’s time to prepare those feeders! Hummingbirds will start to make appearances in Missouri in mid-April,” MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick said. “Some have already been reported in Arkansas.”
Ruby-throated hummingbirds spend the winter in Mexico and Central American and begin their spring migration north as early as March. Kendrick explained hummingbirds can lose up to half their bodyweight during their journey.
“During migration, many fly non-stop over the Gulf of Mexico from the Yucatan Peninsula to the Gulf Coast of the U.S. – and then they do it again in the fall,” she said. “That’s why so many use feeders in the spring – they’ve just arrived, and they’re hungry!”
The diet of a hummingbird consists of flower nectar, tree sap, and even small insects. Those who would like to put out feeders are urged to steer clear of adding red dye to sugar water.
“Adding red dye to hummingbird nectar is completely unnecessary – the birds are still attracted to the red of the feeder and the dye could be harmful to the birds,” Kendrick stressed.
“Hummingbirds drink the sugar water without the coloring. May as well save yourself a step and err on the side of caution.”
To make your own sugar water, dissolve one part sugar with four parts boiling water. Cool the mixture before filling the feeder and replace sugar water before it gets cloudy. In hot weather, feeders should be emptied and cleaned twice per week with hot water and a weak vinegar solution. In cooler weather, feeders can be cleaned once per week.
The ruby-throated hummingbird is Missouri’s smallest nesting bird and the only hummingbird that nests in the Eastern United States. Despite their petite size, they make a big impact in the ecosystem.
“Hummingbirds are important pollinators for many plants that require a long-billed pollinator and they also eat numerous insects,” Kendrick noted. “They bring a lot of joy to many people who feed and watch them, and draw people in to learn more about other birds and nature.”
In addition to putting out feeders, growing native plants is another great way to help hummingbirds and other migratory birds.