Buddleia or Buddleja?

I recently heard that Mike Dirr has come out with the next edition of his book on woody landscape plants. Dr. Dirr (I can’t seem to bring myself to call him Mike, even after all
these years) was my major advisor in graduate school, so I’m really looking forward to getting it.  In the meantime I heard that he included a section on my thoughts about how to spell the scientific name of the butterflybush, a plant that I worked on to get my Ph.D..  Some people spell it Buddleia, but most go with the Buddleja spelling  — but it looks really silly.  So, while I’m not sure exactly what Dr. Dirr wrote, I thought I’d give you my two cents worth.

By the way, any of you out there yelling and screaming that I shouldn’t be promoting an invasive weed should be ashamed of yourselves.  I spent years working on this plant and I
refuse to believe that all of my work was for naught!

But back to the name. First of all you need to understand that the Butterflybush was originally named for a botanist named Adam Buddle.  Buddle didn’t discover this plant.  Nor was he directly involved with its naming, being an expert on mosses.  Besides, he wasn’t even around when Butterflybushes were discovered by the western world around 1730 (Buddle died in 1715).

Buddleja was first mentioned in Species Plantarum, a book by Linnaeus.  And, when it was listed there, it did have that j in it.  OK, so far it makes sense to spell the name Buddleja.
BUT, in his later works, though this plant was spelled Buddleja in the text of the book (at that time stylized print settings meant that i’s were printed as j’s u’s as v’s as s’s as f’s), in the index – where the stylized text wasn’t used – Buddleia was spelled with an i.  Hence I submit to you that Buddleia should be spelled with an i – though I’m not nearly as fanatical about it as I once was.

Slugs and Beer: Not So Fast, My Friend…

[To those new to our blog, there are many past posts of scientifically-proven garden advice and research results…so pardon if we slip off the wagon just briefly.]

In response to the previous post:
Dr. Gillman, I’m simply shocked at your sloppy “materials and methods”.
What is that, a Frisbee? And you drink a beer called Moose Drool? Sounds intriguing, but probably too hoppy. No wonder the slugs were simply mocking your feeble attempts at attracting them.

BEHOLD the well-researched and insightful slug trap:

One 12″ plastic pot saucer + 10 oz. Pabst Blue Ribbon = 28 slugs in one night.

Not unlike college students, results indicate there’s obviously no accounting for the slug’s taste (or lack thereof) in beer. Hmmm…that gives me an idea for a grant proposal…

Slugs and Beer

Around my home I have gravel and hostas.  Just perfect, as you might imagine, for lots of slug damage.  This is where I do my work on slug remedies.  And there are lots of remedies for slugs!  One of the oldest of these remedies is beer.  Almost any beer will be adequate (including alcohol free), but generally the darker the beer the better.  When I first started testing different cures for slugs about five years ago one of the first ones that I looked at was beer.  And when I first tried it…..well, see for yourself.

This is the way that I set up my first beer trap (for this test).  There’s fine sand all the way around the trap and the trap is filled with Moose Drool (a nice beer — Suzanne, my wife — was actually a little irritated that I wasted a good Moose Drool when we had a Bud Light in the fridge — But I was only thirsty for half a beer when I set it out….and I don’t like Bud Light)

I set this trap up around 8 o’clock on a nice warm summer evening, the idea being that the next morning I could go out and see how many slugs approached the beer (by looking at the sand) and then see how many slugs the beer actually caught.

As you can see below we had quite a few slugs approach the beer (By my count about twenty).  And guess how many dead slugs were in that beer?

If you guessed 20…you’d be wrong!  There were no slugs in that beer.  Why?  Because this is a poorly designed slug trap!  slug traps are best when they are made with something like a mason jar and that jar is buried up to the lip of the jar in soil.  Then the jar should be filled up to within about an inch of the top with beer.  If you fill it higher the slug will be able to just reach his head in and drink.  In fact, after I set this trap out, I spent much of the evening watching slugs do just that — it was actually a little like watching old episodes of Cheers!  I had names for the slugs and everything (like Norm and Frazier and that mailman guy whose name I can’t remember now…).

So slug traps are good — but only if they’re set up right!

Bags and Apples

One of my favorite garden “cures” is placing a clear plastic sandwich bag around apples when they are young to protect them from insects and disease.  It usually works great and impresses the heck out of people who see and eat the apples which are normally tough to grow without using  bunches of organic or synthetic pesticides.

Unfortunately this year was different.  Rebecca Koetter, the person who planted these trees and put the bags on the apples (on the University of Minnesota campus) discovered that birds may choose to ignore the bags.  And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Asian lady beetles decided to get in on the fun!

No Way! Something that actually works?

Sometimes I feel guilty because I always seem to be putting down the products that people sell to make their living.  But not today!  Today I’ve got something that actually works!  No, it isn’t pretty, and it does have some irritating problems, but I can honestly say that it does what the company that manufactures it says it does.  And that product is the Aqua Globe.

This is a very simple contraption (which is part of the reason that it works).  It’s just a glass ball with a hollow tube connecting to it.  At the base of the tube there’s a hole where water can be poured it to fill the globe.  When you push this into a container it will release the water in the globe slowly and give an extra day or two between waterings.  This contraption doesn’t affect the drainage of the media that you put it into, and it works with most types of media.

The down side to this thing is that….well….it’s kind of nasty looking.  The other problem with it is that, after you push it into the potting soil, it’s hollow tip will fill up with media, so when you fill it with water the next time you need to dig that media out with a fine-bladed knife or a thick piece of wire.  But hey, if you’re going on a short vacation and you’re feuding with your neighbors, then this little contraption will do the trick.