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October 7, 2017
I would appreciate suggestions about encouraging Butterfly Plant and Milkweed to thrive
next spring. I have enjoyed another summer fostering Monarch Butterfly larvae and
seeing them through to emergence from chrysalis. My milkweed is essentially leafless
now, having fed three hatches of larvae. Aphids were not too severe this summer. The
butterfly plant is still blooming, but clearly near the end. Do I cut back the canes
on the milkweed? The same for the butterfly bush? Should I dig them up, or mulch in
place? Do they need to be fed?
Milkweed or Asclepias, will die back to the ground completely with a killing frost.
I have cut back several of mine since they too were leafless, or had finished setting
seeds. For your butterfly bush (Buddleia) wait until late February to give it a haircut.
It can have spotty blooms through early winter. Prune it hard in late February, since
it blooms best on young wood.
July 1, 2017
Can you tell us what this flower is? How do you take care of it?
It is commonly called butterfly weed or Asclepias tuberosa. This is the milkweed
that everyone recommends to plant for the monarch butterfly. The more common color
is a bright orange, but there are now yellow and even pink varieties. They form a
strong tap root so are not easily transplanted, but once established are tough, drought-tolerant
perennials. Deadhead the spent flowers to keep them blooming longer. They do best
in full sun.
August 29, 2015
I would like to establish a row of milkweed plants at my home along a tree line.
I have access to 12-14 wild milkweeds on some property in south Arkansas that are
in danger of being destroyed. Is it possible to move them? If so, when should I do
it and how? I also would be interested in buying new plants or seeds.
Milkweed plants are often sold at nurseries and garden centers in Arkansas, but probably
more readily available earlier in the season. That is not to say you can’t still
buy them, but they won’t be as easy to find now. Milkweed plants are notoriously
difficult to transplant since they do form a fairly strong taproot, which is what
makes them so drought tolerant. That being said, if the plants are going to be destroyed
anyway, give it a shot. This fall as it cools off, try to dig up the plants getting
as much of the root system as you can. Replant as quickly as possible in their new
location and see what happens. They also should be loaded with seed pods. Milkweeds
form that canoe shaped pod that is loaded with tiny seeds with a hair connected.
Harvest mature seed pods and scatter the seeds into prepared soil this fall. There
are numerous species with the orange flowered butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa being
the most common, but there are also white, pink and yellow flowering forms, and all
are good for the butterflies, so plant a combination.
Featured Story - Late Season Color
Unfortunately brown is the most common color in many landscapes across our beautiful
state, unless someone has been watering. Rainfall has been spotty across the state,
and thankfully some yards are finally getting a bit of a break, but it will take more
than a few showers to get plants back up and growing. If you do see blooming plants
in landscapes, you know they are tough performers to take this summer and stand up
to it. If your garden could use a shot in the arm, there is help available at many
nurseries and garden centers. Late summer into early fall provides a challenge for
many gardeners, but there are some really good perennial plants that bloom every year
in late summer or fall. Goldenrod is a late summer/ fall bloomer that has been blooming
for a few weeks already, and there are numerous new varieties with bright yellow flowers,
that are not invasive. Turks cap (Malvaviscus arborea) is a member of the hibiscus
family that annually has beautiful orange flowers which attract butterflies and hummingbirds
from late summer through fall. Other perennials that are still blooming are butterfly
weed (Aesclepias) with orange blooms, black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) with yellow flowers,
garden phlox in shades of pink and white, purple coneflower (echinacea), blanket flower
(Gaillardia), wand flower (Gaura), and Joe Pye weed (Eupatoria). Don’t overlook salvias.
Many salvia plants struggled this summer, but should bounce back and shine in the
late season garden. From small ‘Black and Blue’ to the large Mexican bush sage, there
are some great choices with flowers ranging in color from pink to red, white, blue,
and purple. They can be a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds. And Russian sage
(Perovskia), a member of the mint family, is another tough as nails plant with open
airy silver gray foliage and purple flowers. Other perennials that are just beginning
or will be in bloom soon, include asters, chrysanthemums, Japanese anemones and turtlehead
(Chelone). Toad lily (Trycertis) will soon follow along with Autumn Joy sedums. Ornamental
grasses also come in all sizes and shapes and are drought tolerant to boot. The foliage
is nice all season but it is in the latter part of the year that they begin to bloom
and the plumage they put on gives you all fall and winter interest. The pink blooms
of purple muhly grass make it a new favorite, but there are many grasses to try. Height
can vary from 12 inches to 12 feet, so know the available space before planting the
grasses. The only maintenance they need, is being cut back every year in late winter
to early spring. Annual varieties like the purple fountaingrass, or the variegated‘Fireworks’,
purple millet and fiber optic grass can give you the grassy texture and form, but
have to be replanted every season.
We live outside of Ash Flat and recently bought the old home place next to our home
place. We know this place dates back to the middle 1800's from local stories. We are
in the process of having it leveled so we can mow it and are trying to save all the
wild flowers, etc. that we can. We have transplanted irises, jonquils and other plants.
I am enclosing one that we found blooming today in the middle of a clump of weeds,
young tree saplings and vines. I would like to know what it is and if it can be transplanted.
The plant in question is a milkweed, one of the favorite hosts of the monarch butterfly.
While most people are familiar with the orange flowering Butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, there are milkweeds with white, red and pink flowers also. I believe yours is probably
the common milkweed Asclepias syriaca or the Red Milkweed Asclepias incarnata, which produces rich clusters of deep rose-purple to pale-rose colored flowers. Almost
all of the Aesclepias plants are the very best food plants for Monarch Butterfly larvae,
the caterpillars will eat all the leaves off, but that is why you normally are growing
it! The feeding doesn't hurt the plant, and you will have a lot of monarchs hatch
out in your garden.
My friend is traveling by plane to Rhode Island to visit a friend who is a gardener.
She would like to take some seeds that are representative of flowers or items that
grow in Arkansas. It's more the idea of representative Arkansas flowers than what
would really thrive there. Any ideas? I can think of Texas bluebonnets for Texas,
but I am stumped for a special Arkansas flower!!
Finding seed for it may be a challenge but Amsonia hubrichtii is commonly called Arkansas blue star and is a great wildflower that would do well
in Rhode Island. Coreopsis, purple coneflower, butterfly weed and many others are
great native wildflowers for us, but not necessarily only found in Arkansas. A nice
mix might be a good idea. The state flower of Arkansas is the apple blossom and the
state wildflower is supposedly tickseed (which is a coreopsis) tickseed coreopsis
is Coreopsis lanceolata. Hope this helps.
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