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MELBOURNE FL 32902-0972
Want to support wild birds?
Plant what they rely on for food
and habitat—native plants.
Nationally renowned entomologist Doug Tallamy, author of
Bringing Nature Home, has helped gardeners everywhere realize
the significance of native plants in producing the insects that
96% of our land birds must have to feed their babies. Native
trees and plants produce the thousands of high-protein butterfly
and moth caterpillars needed to successfully rear baby birds.
Tallamy’s research has focused primarily in the mid-Atlantic
region but suggests that as soon as a landscape dips below 80%
native plants, the reproduction rate of birds begins to drop.
Think of all the urban landscapes around you that are effectively
starving wildlife. Each of us can make a difference in our yards.
Painted Buntings are in decline due to habitat loss and illegal
trapping. Use more native plants—and vote and advocate for
Winter (January) photo of Painted Buntings on the dying stems of a Blue Curls
plant. The male bird’s brilliant coloring inspired Native Americans to call him the
“Bird who flew through the rainbow.” Painted Buntings are primarily seed eaters,
except during breeding season. These birds are likely looking for the small seeds
available in the spent Blue Curls flowers. We are all tempted to “clean up” our
plants by deadheading flowers and removing what looks like useless dead stems
to us. But these woody stems are home and food for insects, including pollinators,
that then feed other creatures. Where possible, leave plants that are at the end
of their life cycle in place to support their full function in the natural system.
Blue Curls, Trichostema dichotomum. Flowering annual suitable for use
throughout Florida except the Keys. Typical size is 18-24" high and wide
but it can get larger with a regular source of water such as roof runoff. Do
not overwater or fertilize. Blue curls is very easy to grow in sandy, well
drained soils and full sun or partial shade. The flowers are small but
abundant and plants bloom daily throughout the summer into early fall. In
the fall, plants die and can begin to look somewhat
like tumbleweeds. Use them in a mixed wildflower
bed where the dying stems blend with other plants.
Blue curls readily reseed and spread throughout
the yard. They are easily transplanted and shared