Garden Update: Roly-poly Bugs, Daylilies and Pokeweed

I was in the front garden and noticed the marigolds I planted in my cement pots had severe damage. At a closer glance, I saw pill bugs everywhere. You may know them as roly-poly bugs or potato bugs from when you were a kid.

I found it strange because marigolds are considered an insect repellent and planted in vegetable gardens to detract pests. The pill bug is not a picky eater apparently and the pungent flavor of this beautiful annual doesn’t detract this garden pest. Upon some research, I learned if nourishment is scarce, pill bugs will eat their own excrement. So, a marigold must be like a plate of eggplant parmesan to me.

Damaged marigold
Damaged marigold

As I’m loudly complaining about the decimation of my flowers, my neighbor Eric walks by. He says “Do you know those bugs are related to horseshoe crabs?” “Wow, so interesting” I thought. These are the kinds of things about gardening that really fascinated me. I had to look this up.

Eric was right, Pill bugs are in the arthropod phylum (which includes spiders, insects, and crabs). They are crustaceans, descended from trilobites, and directly related to horseshoe crabs. Like their ocean counterparts, pill bugs have blue blood and they molt. These arthropods need to live in a moist environment. And most interesting of all– they breathe through gill-like lungs on the outside of their body. If they’re outside of a moist environment (in a planter, under stones, a piece of wood on the forest floor, etc.) they will quickly suffocate.*

In other garden news…

My hanging baskets I wrote about a few weeks back are doing pretty well. The petunias have grown since. The sedum and stone crop has been a little more challenging to keep alive. Since I placed those plants throughout the metal basket frame, I need to water them with a spray bottle. Despite them being drought tolerant, it’s been a little tedious. Some areas have died back but not all. I know this would be a lot of work and I’m still committed!

stella de oro daylilies

It’s lily season. My stella de oro daylilies are in bloom and just in time for some needed color to contrast the purple Walker’s Low overgrowthing [sic] in the garden. Remember – deadhead daylilies when the flower shrivels back- usually within one day of bloom, as their name reminds us. By deadheading throughout the season you will ensure the flowers are constant.

Pokeweed growing out of concrete

Lastly, I found what I believe is pokeweed, poking out of a crack in the cement in my backyard. It looks cool, very “urban garden”. I want to keep it but I wasn’t sure if it would damage the foundation of the house. I took to the Google-verse and read on Wikipedia that it has a long tap root. It’s not a weed, it’s a perennial plant that can grow up to 8ft tall. Probably not good for the foundation, ugh. More concerning, all parts of pokeweed are toxic to humans and pets. But then I read that its berries are food for many birds and small animals. I think the cons are weighing out the pros and I’ll have to remove it. ‘Tis the life of a gardener.

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