DAILY PICTURES #105

Portland, TX(Zone 9b)

Where's the pics Domehomedee? I need to see something...everything is gone at the moment. Haven't seen a butterfly in more than a week!

Russell

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Russell,
Well, I went down to get pics of the Asclepias Physocarpa and low and behold their pods are finally opening! What weird plants these are, they grow to five feet tall in six months and then set pods. The pods look and feel like balloons and if you open them before they are ripe, it's like there is a separate seed pod hanging in the middle of the balloon. Now that they are opening you can see they are milkweeds, same white flights and brown seeds. These particular plants are going into the compost as soon as they are done seeding. Next year I will be planting them out in the pasture as they are not attractive flower garden plants and no deer will ever eat this with it's milky sap. I'm not looking forward to removing them, inside the fenced area I will have to do it by hand. Out in the pasture I can pull them out with the tractor.

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Portland, TX(Zone 9b)

Wow... interesting! Thanks for sharing. Is that the variety they call family jewels?

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Yep family jewels, etc. ;)

I actually enjoyed mine last season for their unusual form and the seed pods are really eye catching as a different texture/height in the garden. Flowers insignificant but pretty. And another good foliage plant.

Someone sent me an article from a source in Mexico that said in a pinch you could feed monarch cats raw pumpkin! Showed a photo with cats of 3rd + 4th instar size crawling all over chunks of pumpkin with frass everywhere. I'll look for the link.

A.

p.s. Now that I have all these tropical MW plants inside and have my aphid population under control, I think, can you all tell me the best way to root cuttings? I'm eager to start.



Red Oak, TX

Amanda -- Edith Smith at Shady Oaks butterfly farm has a great page on growing Tropical Milkweed from cuttings. I think someone posted this previously somewhere.
http://www.butterflyfunfacts.com/milkweedpropagation.php

They also grow very easily if you just stick the stalk in water.

Dale Clark
Dallas County Lepidopterists' Society
www.dallasbutterflies.com

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks Dale. I was hoping it was that easy. ;)

Atlanta, GA(Zone 8a)

So all fellow HB & BF enthusiasts - anyone gearing up for winter sowing? I've never done it before, but I think I'm going to try -- I saved my tropical milkweed seeks and have a ton of them, plus some other items.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm winter sowing. I wonder how early I can get those tropical milkweeds to germinate outside. I have like two dozen scabiosa seedlings that are about 2" tall already. I'm keeping them in the unheated greenhouse. The weather here has been warm during the day but the nights are getting cool. I have been sorting my seeds by germination temps and of course annuals and perennials. I have a bunch of low germination temp. seeds I'm going to put in pots out in the greenhouse and see what happens. The tropical milkweed is a biennial so they might start early, maybe the heat mat (75degrees) to germinate and then outside from there. Winter sowing is more like winter growing in zone 9. It's been in the 70's here and I have daffodils blooming.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi Memays - still have school bookwork distracting me from my seeds but now is the time, I suppose!

I haven't even started cold stratifying my MW for spring. Better get a move on. Thanks for the reminder!

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I am doing a little wintersow , a few milkweed ..
Elderberry got planted today .
There will be more , I will try starting a few earlier annuals later this winter , So our winged friends will have more eat .

Barling, AR(Zone 7b)

I've collected Swamp and Tropical milkweed seeds but I'm an absolute novice on planting, growing, care of milkweeds. In zone 7b, should I be getting seeds into the soil now, either inside or outside ?

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

I don't know about the tropical at all, but I have wintersown swamp with good results. i like this method better than direct fall sowing because it better protects them. They need about 6-8 weeks cold stratification I think, so plan for your area.

PS. I plant tropical like an annual, directly when soil is warm.


This message was edited Dec 3, 2013 11:55 AM

Barling, AR(Zone 7b)

Thanks for the guidance. I need to sow some Swamp seeds soon since it's suppose to really get cold here in a couple of days.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

right. brrrrrrrrr

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Agree w/Mrs. Ed. I started A. incarnata last spring after 2 or 3 months of cold/moist stratification in the fridge.

The only thing about our variable climate in zone 7b is whether we have continued sustained cold enough temperatures. Although it was 21 degrees last week, it was 70 degrees today. I do like the w-s method, but I'm not convinced it's the best when pre-treatment is required and you absolutely MUST have germination.

Where's Russell with some butterfly pics? Is anyone seeing butterflies?

I've got some moths in a cabinet that seem to enjoy it in there, otherwise it's a bust.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

Moths in the cabinet! Last time I had moths in the cabinet the cereal boxes ended up on the counter for the next 6 months, no one wanted the responsibility of being the one who put them back in harms way, LOL. I had some butterflies stuck in the greenhouse earlier this week, when this happens I have to catch them before the heat kills them. We froze here last night so they appear to have left my yard for warmer pastures. Oh Amanda, there are some butterflies coming in the mail for you . . . (I wonder what that strange California girl is up to now?)

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

:)

Portland, TX(Zone 9b)

Nada...nothing...zippo here! Well, I take it back, I saw a couple of small blues of unknown species the other day. Just nothing exciting. I went to Austin for Thanksgiving and apparently while I was gone, it froze! Many of my tropicals were very upset by the cold snap. I don't think they are dead, but they definitely took a hit. It is cold again today...dreary outside and no butterflies to be found. I will keep an eye out and try to post some pictures as it warms up.

Stay warm!

Russell

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Ive had some very tiny monarch cats just disappear. I have a lot of geckos and anoles. Will either of them eat monarch cats?

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Those are omnivores like tree toads &frogs ,, Without a doubt .. I don't have Anole here , but the others with an Alligator Gecko we do have , one that looks like an Anole & a large Gecko cousin .. They eat Swallowtail Cats !!!
Monarch cats give that color display (suggesting poison ) because to people and some birds they are .. Lizards won't fool to that they can eat about anything they will in the wild .. Dinosaur scavengers .....

Colima, Mexico(Zone 11)

Geckos and other lizards will happily eat the Monarch caterpillars, steady. It appears the toxins do not bother them. Also anxious to eat the tiny caterpillars are lady beetles and wasps. I have wasps here about 2" long that will take the big Monarch caterpillars away to eat elsewhere (evidently).

The Monarch pillars on my asclepias are very close to pupating.

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Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Thanks for the info. Well so much for poison, huh? I think I will design some type of cage to go over the milkweed so the lizards cant get to them.

Barling, AR(Zone 7b)

Steady, do the caterpillars become active and mobile when getting ready to pupate and make them more vulnerable to predators ? Lots of predators watching and waiting for a big juicy caterpillar. Lizards can get into very small spaces. My son had a real cat that loved to catch lizards for play and food which was helpful when lizards managed to get in his house

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I think next year I'll make some screen cages for the tropical milkweed. They are short enough that it won't be too expensive to make a few cages. I have lots of lizards so it will probably be worth the effort. Besides then my grand-daughter can watch the butterflies come out of their cocoons. I wonder if those mesh laundry baskets would work.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

Mesh laundry baskets have been touted as the poor man's (raising hand!) monarch caterpillar enclosure. There are a couple of companies that make a lot of money selling the rich man's variety. :)

Sorry your cats were swiped, Steady. I simply find that birds (and critters?) that eat insects look everywhere for food. Giant caterpillars are easy to spot. So then the tiny ones are exposed when they are hopping about. I've had other butterfly species' caterpillars disappear in an afternoon to my chagrin. So I bring them in. Usually my plants are too big to cover individually, but I have started growing in containers now so some of them are mobile and I can transfer individual critters to these plants if/when I find them and move them to protected areas.

Russel - hope your tropicals recover. I am still babying the BOP you sent, and new leaves are 3'+. Wondering when it will bloom, if ever. Most written resources say when the plant is "mature" or rootbound and/or 5+ years old. Or never!!!

Sorry to hijack the thread. No butterflies here either, still with the moths inside. :)

Except!!! Dee sent me some beautiful butterfly wings - should I post a picture?

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

The freezing weather the past few days has wiped out my tropical milkweeds. The "hairy balls" has been ripening pods and I'm beginning to wonder if the ones I left out in the freeze are not going to mature. When I cut them off the plant the stem doesn't bleed, I figure that's not a good sign. I figure I'll wait until the weather warms next week to make any decisions about pulling all the pods off and checking for any mature seeds.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Steadycam, you might want to try these milkweed socks.

http://www.amazingbutterflies.com/butterfly_castles.htm

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Mrs Ed. Thank you for this! It looks like a good idea. Have you ever used anything like this?

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

I have those square cages, but not the socks. The cages are great.

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I think I'm going to make some 2' x 2' x 3' box cages out of wood and screen. That way I can move them from one plant to another. Of course they won't be collapsable but I don't think they'll cost any more than the material ones and they will last longer out in the sun. I don't think I could bear cramming one of my milkweed plants into one of those socks, LOL.

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

I'd give my left eyetooth for a skill saw. :D

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Tell your friends. Christmas is coming!

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

I think it's just important to get very, very fine screen then.

I think we once talked on here about getting a screened room tent! That would be big enough , lol.

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Mrs. Ed, If Im trying to keep lizards out, why does the mesh need to be extremely fine?

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Oh, well not for lizards, but tiny bugs. I had totally forgotten already about the lizards. :D Don't get many of those in Northern Illinois. Ha.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

Okay Amanda , really , If I still have two in the garage .. postage ? lol
How are you doing .. I'm going to do the screen and cardboard thing on a wood frame .
I will just pick the little worms off and cage em'
Gotta run here , conversation is getting to wormy ) eewwww ,,,lol

Greensboro, NC(Zone 7b)

You also have to keep the caterpillars IN!!!

They will leave the plant when they are ready to pupate.

Anderson, IN(Zone 6a)

I know they love that top screen most of the time , Must be a "vampire like thing" when they pupate .
wits' lol Seems they like the sideways , upside down , hanging in there , or hanging around kind of thing ..
The little doors for our hands are the only sort of difficult as to making the cage ,
Of course if you have the screen zipper product , and don't enjoy or have the time to build them ,, it is not a thing to concern yourself about ..lol

Arroyo Grande, CA(Zone 9a)

I'm thinking bottomless wood and screen cages, 2'x2'x3' tall. Something I can put over a Asclepias curassavica. Do you think I need to do front door? or will the fact that I can lift it off be good enough?
Dee

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Sounds like it would work and no need for a door. You know who you should ask is… BCH521. Bruce. I think he's built a bunch of cages.

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