Chickens can make a fun addition to the family garden. They provide fresh eggs, natural pest control, high-nitrogen manure, and if you have a rooster, the children and you get to see cute, fluffy, yellow chicks. They also help teach kids about animal husbandry and food production. As does the chicken flock, sky vine (Thunbergia grandiflora), with its lavender-blue blossoms, adds country charm to the landscape. Before planting anything new, it is wise to check whether or not the chickens will be adversely affected.
1. Trumpets of Lavender and Blue
Sky vine, also known as sky flower and clock vine, is an attractive, twining vine hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 and 11 that is also grown as an annual. It blooms late summer to fall with trumpet-shaped lavender-blue flowers of a good size, measuring about 3 inches across. Sky vine can grow to heights of 15 to 30 feet, and one plant can spread up to 3 to 6 feet. When grown as an annual, it can reach 12 feet. As with chickens, sky vine enjoys sunny areas with partial shade.
2. Chicken Safety
When raising chickens, you've got their safety and yours and your children's to consider. Chickens have sharp beaks made for pecking. They might try to peck something shiny on a person, and this is not limited to jewelry. So when holding, keep beaks pointed away from faces. Also wash hands after handling, as with any farm animal. Chickens also make good companion animals, but process with caution. Now for the chicken's safety. Chickens eat a wide variety of foods, including insects and plants. Before you turn them out into the yard to scratch, ensure the plants are all non-toxic to chickens. Although sky vine does not appear on University of Kentucky’s list of plants that could be dangerous to chickens, that does not mean other substances won’t bother them. Should one of your flock have a bad reaction, remove the others from the area, and remove the sick chicken from the flock, lest they peck it. Call your vet, and if a plant did cause the illness, fence off the plant or relocate the plant or the chickens.
3. Sky Vine and Other Animals
Sky vine is not listed as toxic at the ASPCA, and no reported cases of poisoning from it to animals or humans are found. However, you should always be careful when growing new plants in your garden until you’re sure how your pets and young children will react. Teach kids that nothing in the garden is safe to eat unless you give them permission, and keep dogs, cats and other small animals who like to dig away from ornamental beds, which could contain other toxic substances.
4. Garden Uses
Like other flowering vines, sky vine works well on fences and trellises, cascading from baskets and containers, or spilling down a garden wall. In areas where it is hardy, it can climb close to its full height. Because sky vine has aggressive growing patterns and is invasive in some areas, take care to contain it to its planting bed and trim it back when it threatens to overrun.
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