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Are you plantings male, female or what?
June 02, 2008

The beginning of a new month.

It's June already..............

Where does the time go?

Except for a short stretch of above normal temperatures in April, Spring has been well below normal temperature and moisture wise.

At least that's been the case in SW. Michigan.

We managed some well needed rain this Friday. Lawns and gardens were showing signs that they needed a drink.

This seems to be a good year for robins so far.

There is a bumper crop of youngsters all over the place.

Many young robins are now feeding themselves, but there is a batch or two that still need their folks.

I've had to turn the sprinkler on a few times this spring and with sprinkling, I get instant birds.

Robins fill the yard and gardens looking for worms and the youngsters follow their parents as they learn a valuable lesson on hunting and where to find the groceries.

Cardinals were taking a leaf bath as were other birds, but the Cardinals really go at it.

I had my first ever Black-capped-chickadee feed from my hand this past Friday (peanut chips). If I'm blessed enough to have a regular feeder, I will get some pictures to share with you just like I did with the Red-breasted-nuthatches this past winter.

Mama duck is still sitting (At garden Center) and should be hatching sometime this week. I'm guessing Wednesday if she stopped at nine eggs.

The first of the month can mean one thing.


It's time to deep clean the feeders and stations.

A thorough scrubbing and sanitizing is in order and by making it a habit to do it on the first of the month, you wont forget because you have developed a good habit to keep things clean.

If possible, you may want to move your feeders a few feet so fecal matter and seeds don't pile up and case more potential problems.

It is always a good idea to spray your feeders with rubbing alcohol on a weekly basis to kill off germs and fungus that grow on the outside of a feeder.

Deep cleaning gets to the bottom and helps to prevent sickness from tainted feed and seed.

I finally finished planting my veggies and annuals.

It's a good thing I wasn't in a hurry, as we had a late spring frost advisory one day this past week.

How is your garden and planting going?

Everyone should have hummer feeders out by now.

That includes my Canadian friends as well.

Remember to keep your hummer feeders cleaned and there is really no need to fill your feeders unless you are really blessed and have several hummingbirds visit you.

All to often we will fill a hummer feeder and let it go because it isn't empty enough.

Sugar water goes bad and there it sits.

Use just enough nectar so you see the level and know the hummers are coming. Anything more is a waste.

When you are shopping and planning for your gardens, remember to look for plants that attract certain kinds of wildlife that you want.

Hummer flowers

Butterfly flowers and host plants

Ground covers for young animals and birds

Evergreen trees and shrubs for protection from predators and the elements.

Well, you get the idea.

You may also want to look into fruit bearing shrubs and trees.

And you will want to know what to look for, because all shrubs and trees aren't fruit bearing plants.

Today is another learning day, and you just may come out of this a tad bit more knowledgeable than you were a few minutes ago.

Let's get started.

The Birds and Bees on Some Shrubs and Trees

Colorful fruits are important assets for ornamental trees and shrubs.

Many ornamental plants decorate your gardens and landscapes with red, orange, yellow, blue and purple fruits.

These fruiting ornamentals are also a great attraction to birds and other wildlife.

Unless the characteristics of the plant are known however, you may be disappointed because there may be no fruit crop even though bloom occurs.

Many species of plants such as roses and viburnums have perfect flowers.

Each individual perfect flower has both stamens and a pistil (boy and girl parts).

The parts are separate in some other plants.

When male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers are borne on the same individual plant, the plant is called monoecious.

Birches and pines are examples.

In perfect flowered and monoecious plants, pollen is carried to the stigma of the same flower or of the female flower of the same tree by insects, birds or wind.

Many homeowners complain that flowers do not set fruits on some of their trees and shrubs.

In many cases, the reason for non-bearing is that those plants are dioecious.

In dioecious plants, male flowers appear on one plant and female flowers on another.

To have fruits on dioecious plants, male and female plants must be grown within a reasonable distance of one another.

Although boy and girl plants need not necessarily be grown side by side, the closer the male and female plants stand to one another, the better the fruiting that may be expected.

Sometimes growers graft a male branch to a female plant or plant the two together in the same pot to ensure pollination.

Identification of dioecious plants is not difficult (male or female).

Fruiting plants are female.

Fruitless plants are not necessarily male because even mature female plants fail to bear fruits without a supply of the right kind of pollen at the right time.

Identification is easy at blooming time. (In certain species, identification requires a hand lens.)

Male flowers lack stigmas or have undeveloped stigmas.

On the other hand, female flowers have well developed ovaries and stigmas but not developed stamens.

For dioecious plants that bear fruits and nuts, you must have at least one male for every 3 to 7 females.

Plants like Viburnums and strawberries need the wind and some pollinators.

Monoecious plants (both male and female flowers) need help from the wind and pollinators.

You my have planted melons or squash in the past and wonder why there is little fruit produced. Pollen from the male flower must find a way to the fruit producing female.

Often you can help by using a cotton swab or a paint brush. Take the pollen from any other male flower and place it on the female's pistil.

This works no matter if there are two different species of squash (Butternut and Zucchini), cucumbers or watermelon.


You may have learned a new word or two.

Now you can go to the nursery and throw a word at them and see if the Nurseyman knows his stuff.

Monoecious means a plant with both male and female flowers on it.

Dioecious Means male and female are on different plants and you need both plants to reproduce.

Most growers and nurseries will grow only male trees or shrubs if a species in considered invasive or the female flowers or fruits have a nasty oder or fruits cause a problem.

The ancient Ginko tree is an example where the fruits of the female have a foul oder so only males are grown.

Fruits of Mulberry trees are often dropped or deposited by birds causing a nice stain where it lands. Unless you have a wild Mulberry, chances are that you purchased Mulberry tree is a male.

Here is a sample list (common names) of plants that are dioecious.

Maple, only some species, Box Elder, Florida Maple

American Bittersweet

Fringe Tree

Smoke Tree, Texas Pistache, most Sumacs


Common Persimmon, Texas Persimmon

Ash Trees, White Ash, Black Ash, Green Ash, Pumpkin Ash

Hollies, Yaupon, Yerba Mate, Mountain Holly, Winterberry, Inkberry

Pinchot Juniper, Southern Red Cedar, Eastern Red Cedar


Texas Mulberry, Osage Orange, some Red Mulberry


Poplars, Aspens, Cottonwood


Well, That's it for this week.

If there is a topic you would like me to write on, feel free to drop me a line and I will do what I can. After all, it is your newsletter.

Here is your thought of the week.

I think laughter may be a form of courage. As humans we sometimes stand tall and look into the sun and laugh, and I think we are never more brave than when we do that.

Linda Ellerbee (1944- ) American Journalist

Laughter is courage?

Now that makes a person want to smile doesn't it?

Share your laughter and smiles this week.

Share them with friends, family and even strangers.

You just might make someone's day.

Until next time.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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