milkweed potting question

firegurl(z10 CA)April 30, 2007

Hey butterfly buds,

I was wondering if the butterfly vets could help answer a few of my questions so I don't make any big mistakes here. I have a huge seed tray of milkweed babies- all different kinds...




mexican whorled-fascicularis


I would love to put these in the ground, but I don't have the space so I HAVE to pot the majority of them, so far there are 87 seedlings that are getting their second and third set of true leaves. I think they want out of the seed tray, so here are my questions:

What size pots can they grow in? I would like to use 1-gal but don't know if that is big enough. I know they have big taproots.

Transplanting- I am usually really good at this, have transplanted numerous beans and cukes, although these hate to be transplanted...Do milkweed transplant well or will I lose a lot during transplant?

Upkeep- Can I keep these in the pot and trim them back for next spring? It's so hot here, I can't imagine they'd die unless I let them dry out, or better yet, they all get eaten!

Thanks for any help! And thanks to everyone who sent me seeds!

:) Danielle


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Hey, Danielle. I just potted up some of my seedlings into about 4 and 5" pots. They seem to be doing fine. I used Miracle Gro potting mix.

I think a gal. pot might be too big to start out with. I was worried that my smaller pots would be too big, but so far, so good. Do you have some smaller pots than gallon size?


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 2:29PM
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sandwhy(z5, Evanston IL)

Hi Danielle,

The Incarnata doesn't have a huge taproot (someone please correct me if I am wrong); last year I dug up my 6 1.5-year old clumps and they were just that - clumpy! Mine did not have a taproot, very easy to move. I don't see why they wouldn't do well in a 1-gal pot... although they get a little tall so floppage *might* be an issue.

I started some Curassavica a year ago from seed and transplanted some to 1-gal pots that I kept inside to feed monarch cats I brought in. They took well to the pots - and even bloomed (sort of!) this winter! I just chopped them back a bit as they got a bit floppy, but now they look pretty lush. Just keep 'em watered well, as you probably know from your other container plantings.

Hope that helps. Great photos btw! Love the kittens. :)


    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 2:58PM
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When transplanting, the most important thing is to be sure to use B1 afterwards. I did some transplanting of some seedlings that I literally pulled OUT of the ground and stuck into a small pot of soil. The poor thing looked pathetic but after a bit of B1, it perked right up! :) B1 is quite inexpensive and can be found in any garden center. Just add it to the water when you water your plant right after transplanting...

I do add SuperThrive as well but I don't think this is necessary... :) It DOES seem to help, though.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 10:41PM
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Tdog, I thought that Superthrive WAS Vitamins. I am not familiar with "B1". What name and Company is it usually listed under?


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 8:53AM
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    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 9:45AM
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As I recall "Super Thrive" is B-1, or has B-1 in it. I would use one or the other, or else your plants might OD on B-1! LOL! I used to use ST on my begonias a lot when transplanting the tiny seedlings.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 11:48AM
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napapen(ca 15)

I'm sorry to be contrary but the Univ Of Ca has done studies on B1 and find it did not have any effect on transplants. I quit using it years ago. If you have doubts about the roots of your milkweed I would add alittle rooting hormone. It keeps diseases away while the roots settle in. However when I transplant mine I use quick draining soil and make sure the soil is packed firmly around the roots so there are no air spots.

Actually milkweed is quite tough.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 12:04PM
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firegurl(z10 CA)

Thanks everyone for all of the advice!
I will use some 1gal or 1/2 gallons to start off. The biggest part is I don't want to have to transplant 87 milkweed twice.
I looked up the B1, I thought it was vitamin b1 at first too, LOL. I'm not big on adding much to my plants unless I know there is a huge need, mainly I'm just too cheap right now after graduating college a few years ago, income is still tight. I wonder if it works, seems like there is some controversy here, hmmn.
Penny- I thought that the roots wanted some air spots? Just curious as to your reasoning for packing firmly? I will definitely use some rooting hormone- good idea.

:) Danielle

    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:30PM
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napapen(ca 15)

you need soil that will allow air to get through it but if you leave big air holes, slugs, pill bugs, molds and other nasties can move in. Always pack the soil well with a chop stick making sure you leave no holes.

I put more than one milkweed in a gallon can - 2 or 3. Happy planting.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 1:58PM
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I've always thought that if you believe a thing is true, it is. This school of thought is a little more esoteric, but IMHO if someone believes that ST or B-1 is helping their plants, maybe it is? I know that when I used it, it didn't harm the plants in any way. I haven't used it personally in years. Potting soils have improved so much over they years, and I don't pack my soil down real hard either, because I don't want to compact the roots. I water it in, and if I need more, I put more on top and water that in.

Different strokes...............


    Bookmark   May 1, 2007 at 7:49PM
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