Dormant gardens provide enormous ecological benefit. ‘Hidden’ in this photo collage of dormant gardens are some important beneficial insects. Would you be able to spot these as you clear ‘debris’ away from your garden? Let them stay until temperatures are at least consistently above 50 degrees.
How Long Should You Delay Garden Clean Up?
Some insects don’t come to life until May or June. The less you ‘clean up’, the better for insects. When you clean up, keep as much of the dormant plant material in your garden as possible.
Why Keep Dormant Plant Material
The insects hidden here are just a few of the many creatures that take refuge in dormant stalks, under tree bark, and in leaf litter. They remain there until the weather warms enough for them to continue their life cycles.
On the left is larva of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. In the center is larva of Spicebush Swallowtail. On the right is the larva of the Pennsylvania Firefly (Photuris pennsylvanica).
These, and many more insects, depend on your garden until spring arrives in full. Please help keep them safe and delay garden ‘Clean Up’.
What to do Instead?
In the meantime, use the time before garden chores start to recharge, plan, and learn.
Borrow them from a library, stop in to an independent book store, or order from the links. (We’ll get a small commission. ) Once the season starts, they will be available in our Gift Shed.
In celebration of our 20th anniversary, join Brandon Everett, EOTW horticulturist, for this virtual presentation on 20 beautiful PA butterflies and their host plants.
Brandon will introduce you to some of our favorite butterflies and the plants needed in your landscape to support them. We will discuss growing host plants in your garden, butterfly life cycles, and the importance of plant communities. As an added bonus, many of these butterfly supporting plants also support other pollinators!
Participate in this virtual presentation to get some great ideas for incorporating native host plants into your garden or landscape. You can join from any computer, tablet, or smart phone.
Click the link for a list of programs we know about. Please send us others if you know of them.
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Larvae Judy Gallagher, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Spicebush Swallowtail larva Judy Gallagher, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons