The Year of the Dragonfly

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Garden tip from Monrovia

Monrovia, founded by Harry E. Rosedale in 1926, grows more than 2,300 varieties and 22 million plants annually, with each plant nurtured by hand. Monrovia is committed to enhancing the beauty and value of the North American landscape — one garden at a time.

Time to pay homage to dragonflies — and their cousins, the damselflies (order Odanata). These double-winged creatures are fantastic skeeter eaters. They devour all sorts of pesky insects, like mosquitos, ants, flies, gnats and termites, plus these colorful little guys are fun to watch. If you don’t already have these flying friends zipping around your yard, you might want to start attracting them to your garden.

The Year of the Dragonfly

Water is essential for dragonflies, but size of the source doesn’t matter. If you don’t have an in-ground pond, consider making a water garden in a large container, like a half wine barrel. 

While dragonflies are carnivores and don’t rely on plants for their diet, they are partial to foliage in and around the pond where they can safely hang out. They need shelter, relief from the heat and a place to lay their eggs. Like butterflies, they enjoy flat rocks near the water where they can warm themselves by basking in the sun. Plant grasses like sedge, sweet flag, cattail and horsetail around the perimeter of the pond. Never mow the grasses; you want thick, dense, lush plants to nurture our bug-eating friends.

Layer in some color around your pond, starting with Siberian iris. Plant them around the edge of the pond, or keep in the container and submerge in the water. ‘Ruffled Velvet’ has huge deep purple flowers and ‘Chilled Wine’ has pretty red-violet blooms. Another one to try is variegated Japanese water iris, which has bright purple flowers, and when not in bloom, still adds interest with bright foliage.

Cannas make a big statement with huge flowers in red, orange, yellow, white and rose — plus foliage ranging from green and gold to almost black. ‘Tropicanna Gold’ has big leaves of green with gold stripes and vivid yellow-orange blooms. ‘Tropicanna Black,’ with its dark-chocolate foliage and bright-red flowers, provides great contrast against green and gold-leafed plants. ‘Tropical Yellow,’ with its huge yellow blooms flecked with rose, would be very pretty alongside purple iris. Don’t forget elephant ears for a lush, tropical look. Try the dusty-black, extra-large foliage of ‘Black Magic.’

For water-wise plants, yarrow is easy to grow, has long-lasting brightly colored flowers and lacy foliage. ‘Coronation Gold’ and ‘Moonshine’ have cheery yellow blooms and ‘Paprika’ has red-brown flowers. Tall verbena thrives in hot, dry conditions, and its showy rose-purple flowers are long lasting.  Fountain grass is another good choice for a water-wise plant. ‘Fireworks’ has strappy variegated foliage of white, green, burgundy and hot pink. ‘Little Bunny’ is a dwarf variety, reaching just 12 inches, yet full of fluffy white tassel-like blooms.

Categories: Gardening