Can I transplant milkweed?

mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))July 30, 2007

I have a bunch of milkweed (I'm assuming the 'common' variety) in area A, but the butterfly garden is in area B.

Is milkweed hardy enough to withstand getting dug up and re-planted elsewhere?



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I'm fairly new here, but this year I have been trying to move some milkweed into my garden.
all the tall ( 18" or more) milkweed I have moved has died.
I just tryed some small ( 4 to 6" ) ones and dug way around the plants, at least 4" away from the tap root, and planted the whole clump. these have done very well, out of 8 plants I only lost 1. and the monarchs are laying eggs on these tiney plants already

hope this helps

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:55AM
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Jay, it is difficult to transplant milkweed, unless you're doing the seedlings and small plants like Michelle recommends. Milkweed is tap-rooted. Anything tap-rooted is hard to transplant because you have to get ALL of the taproot. These tap roots can go as deep as 2' into the ground.

I would wait until you have some seedlings coming up around the mother plants and dig those, or wait until you have seed pods and scatter the seed where you want them. They'll come up next year in the location you want them to be in.

BTW - welcome to the forum!


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 1:22PM
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This is so true. Get them while they are small and move them. The larger ones just die away.

I have cut mine back from the top at a leaf joint and put them in water. Most make roots and you can plant them. It takes a couple of weeks, but it is well worth doubling your planting that way. I usually cut to feed my babies.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 2:08PM
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mistervetch(z6b (NE TN))

Thanks everyone. I'm not new to gardening, but am new to butterflying.

It's my daughter you see, she likes bugs (see link below).

I'm probably going to start one of those monarch waystations, and would like to start planting things right now, even though the plants may not be utilized til next year.

So, what can I safely plant right now, just to get things started?


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 2:57PM
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napapen(ca 15)

I move mine around during the winter months and have good luck.

Cute girl with the worms......they bite


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 3:58PM
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bernergrrl(z5 IL)

I dug up a few patches of a.incarnata last year, and even overwintered roots because I wasn't sure where to put them. Most of them survived; I had to make sure I added just a little water every so often. Planted in the spring, and they're doing fine. I also moved some around in the Fall. Lots of tender care, and mulched pretty heavily in my area.

The little seedlings are super easy and resilient; I've moved a couple around even recently. Just need to water every day.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:35PM
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Penny, they bite? I've never had one bite me ever. I suppose if your hand smelled like tomatoes they might try to munch, but they don't have any teeth at least!

Your daughter looks about the same age as my granddaughter. She's 5, will be 6 in October. She is my helper and we raise all kinds of caterpillars - Black Swallowtails, Monarchs, Question Marks, Red Admirals, Buckeyes, tomatoe and tobacco hornworms, Nessus sphinx, eumorpha sphinx, Snowberry Clearwing sphinx, and now Walnut sphinx, Gulf Fritillaries, Pipevine Swallowtails, and Variegated Fritillaries.

You'll never have too much milkweed, so plant LOTS of it. Kids love to raise butterflies and moths!

Welcome to the forum!


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 7:20PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

There are quite a few plants that you can plant during the summer. You can plant some zinnias, either from seeds or purchased plants; Tithonia, also known as Mexican Sunflower (locate plants); Asclepias Curassavica, also known as Tropical Milkweed, can be purchased online from Shady Oak Butterfly Farm, or you may be able to find it locally.

You can go to the FAQs on the Butterfly Forum Page and it will give you lists of nectar and host plants for butterflies.

After you look at the lists, you can check out nurseries to see what is in stock, and what might be on sale! This is a good way to get that garden started. It's never too late to get something done in the garden!


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:25PM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

I just thought of two more that draw butterflies to the garden that can be planted now: asters, and sedum. These both bloom in the fall and are BF magnets. You will want the larger leaved sedum, can't think of the variety. I'm sure a nursery can help you out, or if you have a friend that has a sedum plant, all you have to do is break off a stem and plant it.

Good luck!


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:32PM
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