I have asclepias Incarnata -- which is new to my garden. A fellow dg'r gave me the plant from seed she had germinated. I was not aware that it needed very wet soil which is pretty hard to come by in my garden, but I did plant it in the spot that gets more water than most. It seems fine, but this is its first year and it is still pretty small. Hopefully it will grow more next year.
Hi, Sally, It's always good to see an informative article about milkweeds and butterfly gardening. Thanks so much! Growing milkweeds in our garden has added a fascinating dimension to our garden enjoyment!
Just wanted to add a couple of extra notes for butterfly garden enthusiasts:
Milkweeds, particularly A. tuberosa in our garden, are especially popular 'nectar plants' for butterflies other than monarchs, so if you enjoy attracting a range of lepidoptera (swallowtails, sulphurs, fritillaries, etc.) to your garden, a little patch of Asclepias tuberosa is invaluable.
Some A. incarnata ('swamp milkweed') have become more acclimated to drier conditions, although most like some regular watering at least. If you find specimen seeds from plants growing in a dry-ish habitat you might have better luck with getting those to grow in non-wettish environments. They are nice plants for the garden and also for casual bouquets.
Some Asclepias, particularly A. curassavica (tropical/mexican), can be started easily from cuttings. Often times gardeners will buy one plant at the nursery and then stock their butterfly garden through the summer by taking cuttings. And since A. curassavica are 'tropical' plants, often moist/cold treatment for seed sowing isn't needed.
I planted asclepias this year and was pleasantly surprised when I found that they were being eaten by monarch caterpillars. I watched them grow bigger each day as they ate every piece of leave they could find. When they got to be the correct size for chrysalis making, about two inches, they found places to attach themselves on my flowering plants and nearby trees. I wanted so much to see them break out of those chrysalis' and see the butterflies they had become but they must have done it when my back was turned. The butterflies are still around here because they have plenty to eat in my yard but they will probably be gone soon on their way to Mexico. I am going to plant much more milkweed next year. The leaves on my existing plants were eaten down to nothing but have since grown back into full plants. I can't wait until next year to see how many Monarch caterpillars I will have. They will be welcome again in my yard. I live in Hubert, North Carolina about 70 miles northeast of Wilmington, NC.
One late summer day, when I was a little girl, the wild cherry tree at the end of our lane, all at once lost thousands of colorful leaves. Then I realiazed they were not leaves, they were monarch butterflies and they were not falling from the tree but from the sky. They all rested for a while and then the wind picked up, and off they went again! I found out later they were migrating like a birds all together, isn't that like science fiction or something! I found out later that they do migrate All the way to Mexico.
AND I saw a migration, just once in my life time, forty years ago. I had no one around to share this with at that time, so I am sharing it with all of you.
LOL, well I have been trying to grow several different kinds for the monarchs, with good and bad results! I just want everyone to add some milkweeds to their gardens, it makes the garden so much more fun and interesting (and alive!).
Interesting, Liquidambar, about seeing the Monarch 'roost' 40 years ago. I wonder, was it near Mount Vernon, KY? I have been looking at the Monarch migration 'roost' map for 2009 trying to figure out if there was a certain path (through our region) that they take to Mexico.
We had a "flock" roost, one evening about five years ago, in our big old walnut tree. I, too, wondered what was wrong with the leaves until I got close. Simply covered in orange. It's one of the huge thrills of nature. Another time my husband and I were taking a Sunday drive on an narrow old country road with lots of hedge row trees. At the bottom of a hill a huge mass of Monarchs lifted and continued to drift over and around the car. Needless to say, we stopped until the show had moved on but it was awesome.
Thanks for the link to the map. I enjoyed it. They do migrate right over us. BUT I have only seen it one time, how sad. BUT I HAVE SEEN ONE!!!! HOW GLAD.
Thanks again for a peek at the migration map.