What’s blooming in May
You’ve heard of the expression “April showers bring May flowers,” and that is certainly true here in the Lowcountry. Numerous flowers bloom here around the fifth month of the year.
Thriving in moist soil with lots of sun, it’s no surprise that hollyhock grows well when planted in the Lowcountry. They are native to Europe and Asia and their stalks can grow as tall as 9 feet.
Uses Many people don’t know that hollyhock is completely edible. When taken internally, its healing properties are incredible. It’s perfect for gastrointestinal, respiratory, and urinary tract health in the human body.
3 to 4 Hollyhock flowers
1 cup of boiled water
Canning jar with lid
Directions Remove the petals from the flower and place in the bottom of the jar. Slowly pour the boiling water over the petals and then cover with the lid. Allow the tea to steep for 10 to 15 minutes and then add honey for taste.
Native to North America, swamp milkweed can be seen in places such as swamps, lakes and rivers. The genus was named after Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine, likely because of some of the species’ medicinal properties.
Uses Swamp milkweed is vital for wetland rehabilitation and works incredibly when seeded with native grasses and wildflowers. It is also a favorite food of the monarch butterfly larva.
Growing tips Grow hollyhock and watch monarchs, hummingbirds, bumblebees and honeybees fall in love! Sow seeds directly in the soil in the spring. For plant health, regularly check the moisture of the surrounding soil. If the soil is dry over an inch into the ground, re-water the plant. Cut off milkweed pods to prevent fall seeding.
False indigo bush
False indigo bush has a uniquely beautiful flower with deep purple blooms and a fragrant scent. It’s native to North America, fast growing, and deer don’t like to eat it, making it a very successful plant.
Uses This is an exotic looking plant often planted as an ornamental. It fixes nitrogen and the seeds attract numerous game birds and song birds.
Growing tips It grows best in medium to wet soils in full sun or partial shade sites.
Impatiens are tropical plants that produce beautiful, long-lasting blooms when cared for properly.
Uses Impatiens have been used as herbal remedies for the treatment of bee stings, insect bites, and stinging nettle rashes. They are also used after poison ivy contact. They are said to have many medicinal properties, one being that Jewelweed Impatiens are used in Bach flower remedies. Jewelweed has been discovered to help relieve stress in many situations and is particularly popular in the Bach Rescue Remedy.
Growing tips The closer impatiens plants are, the taller they will grow, so space accordingly. If you have impatiens plants in containers, like window boxes, use a sterile or soil-less growing mixture to ensure better drainage for the plants. Keep them moist, but not too wet. If the plants dry out, they will lose their leaves. If you over-water the plants, this could encourage fungal diseases.
Asian azaleas were first introduced to the United States in the 1840s. They come in many varieties of size and color and are distinctively loved throughout the South. You can find them filling beautiful bouquets, symbolizing femininity and softness.
Uses Azaleas make great potting plants and are perfect for decorating any outside area.
Growing tips Azaleas like a lot of space and need at least one drainage hole to prevent them from becoming over-watered. Make sure they are in a spot that gets equal amounts of sun and shade. Also, be sure to bring them inside for heavy rain. When you first get your azalea, make sure to start by watering it every day then gradually decrease to once a week.
Gardening tips & advice
POLLINATOR GARDEN PRO TIPS
A few things to consider when starting a pollinator or butterfly garden, in addition to the usual sun, soil, wind conditions:
• Many plants which attract the pollinators are not the showiest or most colorful. Some look weedy (i.e., milkweek, joe pye weed). It has even been suggested that the pollinators prefer it a little scruffy. So a pollinator garden front and center in the landscape might not be advisable. But it should definitely have full sun.
• Butterflies need nectar plants and host plants. Nectar for food for the adult butterflies, host for their eggs which will hatch and feed on the leaves of the host plant. A variety of plants with differing bloom times will provide the necessities throughout the season. The Xerces Society (xerces.org) provides good guidance in this respect.
• Remember that some plants are intended to be consumed so don’t be surprised when leaves disappear. There should be adequate clumps of these host plants for voracious caterpillars. And, while we like the idea of our caterpillars turning into butterflies, consider that the butterfly’s function in the food chain is to provide caterpillar fodder for birds so expect to lose a few caterpillars before they create the chrysalis.
• Don’t forget a water source.
— Kathleen Panepinto, Moss Creek
CALL 811 BEFORE YOU DIG
Hargray Communications reminds you to think before your dig. There are tons of buried utilities beneath the surface here in the Lowcountry. Homeowners often make risky assumptions about whether or not they should get their utility lines marked, but every digging job requires a call to 811, even “small” projects like planting trees and shrubs. Call 811 at least a few days before you start any digging project. Reach help desk support at 800-290-2783, option 1.