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Beginner Landscaping: Is this beautiful flower really a weed?

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Forum: Beginner LandscapingReplies: 6, Views: 151
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Jean_Tessmer
Wailuku, HI
(Zone 14)

December 11, 2012
6:41 PM

Post #9355940

I saw this photo taken in Hawaii of a Mexican Butterfly 'weed", http://patrick-mcnally.aminus3.com/image/2012-10-29.html. I wondered if it is just called a weed, or if it will really spread like a weed and make me regret adding it to my landscaping. I like the appearance of the flower and it seems to be butterfly friendly from what I've read, which I'd like for that reason alone. From the description, it sounds like it grows wild so might not need a lot of special attention. Any ideas if this is ever used successfully in home landscaping?

Thanks. Jean Tessmer Hawaii
Doug9345
Durhamville, NY
(Zone 5b)

December 11, 2012
9:00 PM

Post #9356039

It's botanical name is Asclepias curassavica. It's a milkweed. It's not on this list of most invasive plants in Hawaii http://www.state.hi.us/dlnr/dofaw/hortweeds/specieslist.htm .
It, however, is on these http://www.coastalwildscapes.org/coastal-wildscaping/invasive-plants-of-high-concern-for-coastal-habitats/ , http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/node/52 . Use your own judgment. The common milk weed, which grows where I live, spreads both underground and from wind borne seeds. I let it grow where it isn't bothering me and it hasn't caused problems.
purpleinopp
Opp, AL
(Zone 8b)

December 12, 2012
7:21 AM

Post #9356293

Asclepias plants are host for Monarch butterfly caterpillars. When blooming, they are nectar plants for about any critter that partakes in such. Some Asclepias are native but this one is not, although the monarchs don't care which it is. Do monarchs get to HI? If you are just interested in nectar plants, this heavy seeding exotic is probably not the best choice.
BrendaVR
Cambridge, ON
(Zone 6a)

January 2, 2013
2:26 PM

Post #9373377

It is not a "weed" at all. Not an aggressive spreader.

It is often used in formal gardens (and in naturalizations) and it will reproduce from seed if the ground is not disturbed at all (but in a garden situation I have never seen it spread beyond the original planting, likely any seedlings don't have a chance with regular garden maintenance.) They have a taproot so are tricky to transplant successfully. Starting from seed is how to reproduce. It does grow wild and it is very drought tolerant (because of the taproot) so it requires little, if any, maintenance. I would recommend it for a garden if you like the colour and it is a great butterfly attractor.
purpleinopp
Opp, AL
(Zone 8b)

January 3, 2013
6:30 AM

Post #9373937

Jean seems to have disappeared...
Gypsi
Fort Worth, TX

January 15, 2013
10:20 PM

Post #9386713

But she left a good question. If not a good nectar plant I probably won't order the seed. I encourage the native milkweeds, but my bees need nectar.
Spyguy
Pike Road, AL

March 21, 2013
5:40 AM

Post #9456686

I grew this plant and it did well in wet soil and bloomed and got eaten up by caterpillars, all before the first frost! However, where you are it could become invasive as it readily spread by seed for me.

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