Friends and foes in the gar­den

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Betty Cahill In the land­scape … Watch for …

•Mid-July is a good time to eval­u­ate the land­scape for pluses and mi­nuses, and a great time to shop for dis­counted plants to fill in empty spots.

•Re­place any un­sightly or barely alive an­nu­als in the land­scape or con­tain­ers for con­tin­u­ous sum­mer flow­er­ing.

•Plants like bee balm, salvias and petu­nias are sure hits with hum­ming­birds on their way back to south­ern lo­cales for the win­ter; their colors of choice are red, orange or pink tubu­lar flow­ers.

•Be sure to score or cut through heav­ily root-bound plant roots be­fore plant­ing, and wa­ter con­sis­tently to get es­tab­lished. If roots are left un­cut, they may not es­tab­lish in the soil, they will die quickly with wet roots.

•The daily stroll in­cludes see­ing more than blooms and har­vest­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles — there are some in­ter­est­ing bugs out there, both good and bad.

•Plants that are be­ing at­tacked by a pest re­lease SOS-like chem­i­cal sig­nals that tell ben­e­fi­cial in­sects to come and get it — to prey on the pest.

•Avoid us­ing chem­i­cal sprays, which can up­set the ben­e­fi­cial-pest bi­o­log­i­cal bal­ance, or end up killing both good and bad in­sects.

•Ben­e­fi­cial syr­phid flies, also known as hover or flower flies, look like small wasps with a black-and-yel­low- or white-striped ab­domen. They hover like a hum­ming­bird while sip­ping nec­tar from flow­ers. They do not sting. They are pol­li­na­tors as adults, while their lar­vae (small brown or green ta­pered mag­gots) con­sume aphids, young cab­bage worms and other soft­bod­ied in­sects. At­tract them to your gar­den by hav­ing flow­ers in bloom all sea­son. (Read more here: http://ex­ten­sion.colostate.edu/docs/ pubs/in­sect/05550.pdf )

•Ben­e­fi­cial or­ange­and-black painted lady but­ter­flies are abun­dant this sum­mer. They are of­ten mis­taken for monarch but­ter­flies, which are much larger with darker orange and black mark­ings. This is the most com­mon but­ter­fly grown for ed­u­ca­tional pur­poses in el­e­men­tary schools, or re­leased at wed­dings and memo­rial ser­vices. Dur­ing the win­ter they mostly re­side in north­west­ern Mex­ico; they re­turn to Amer­ica and all parts of Colorado in spring and sum­mer. The spiny, brown turn­ing to grey and yel­low lar­vae feed on this­tle, mal­low, asters, veron­ica and hol­ly­hock. Nec­tar sources for adults in­clude cos­mos, li­a­tris, asters, zin­nia and Joe Pye weed.

•The un­sung ben­e­fi­cial in­sect he­roes of our land­scapes are spi­ders. They may cause alarm to pho­bics, and of­ten there is an im­me­di­ate urge to squish on sight. Don’t. Arach­nids are on 24-7 duty feed­ing on in­sects like flies, mosquitoes and roly-polys. Spi­ders don’t fly, but mas­ter­fully use their hairy bod­ies, eight legs and six to eight eyes to hunt— ei­ther us­ing brute force or their venom and silk to con­quer their prey. About 600 species of spi­ders re­side in Colorado, even at high el­e­va­tions. Check out some com­mon spi­ders and fun facts at dpo.st/spi­der­su­per­heroes.

•Blos­som End Rot, or BER, on toma­toes is show­ing up on the firstripen­ing toma­toes. The fruit bot­toms turn leath­ery with sunken brown to black le­sions. Fac­tors that lead to BER in­clude: cal­cium de­fi­ciency when fruit be­gins grow­ing rapidly; ex­treme tem­per­a­ture fluc­tu­a­tions; wa­ter­logged soils; or too much ni­tro­gen. Pep­per, squash, egg­plant and wa­ter­melon are also prone to this con­di­tion. Re­move af­fected fruits; main­tain con­sis­tent wa­ter­ing and fer­til­iza­tion and mulch to keep soil mois­ture even.

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