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posted: 4/21/2014 1:01 AM

Only 'true leaves' can make food for plants

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By Mary Boldan

Q. On the directions for some seeds I started, it said to transplant them into larger containers when the first true leaves appear. What do they mean by "first true leaves"?

A. A seed gets the energy to germinate from the food stored in the cotyledons, which are folded inside the seed. These are also called "seed leaves" and are the first leaves to emerge from the soil. The next set of leaves to emerge are the "true leaves" and are used by the plant to capture the light energy needed by the plant for growth.

Q. I would like to attract butterflies to my garden. Any suggestion?

A. The following tips are what I use in my garden. They seem to work.

Provide the following nectar plants:

• Aquilegia canadensis (Columbine)

• Asclepias incarnata (Red Milkweed)

• Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)

• Aster laevis (Smooth Aster)

• Aster novae-angliae (New England Aster)

• Coreopsis palmata (Stiff Coreopsis)

• Echinacea pallida (Pale Purple Coneflower)

• Eupatorium fistulosum (Tall Joe Pye Weed)

• Liatris ligulistylis (Meadow Blazingstar)

• Liatris pycnostachya (Prairie Blazingstar)

• Monarda fistulosa (Bergamot)

• Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

• Rudbeckia subtomentosa (Sweet Black Eyed Susan)

• Vernonia fasciculata (Ironweed)

Certain colors are particularly attracting to butterflies -- red, yellow, pink, purple or orange blooms that are clustered or flat-topped, with short flower tubes are especially attractive to adult butterflies. Butterflies are more attracted to mass plantings than single specimens.

DO NOT use pesticides, especially around nectar-producing plants.

Provide a shallow source of water, such as a birdbath with pebbles lining the bowl.

Butterflies like a lot of sunlight, so locate your garden in a sunny area. Place a rock in a sunny spot for butterfly to bask and rest.

• Provided by Mary Boldan. Master Gardener Answer Desk, Friendship Park Conservatory, Des Plaines, open 9 a.m. to noon on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Call (847) 298-3502 or email

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