Growth habit of a. syriaca in a garden

christie_sw_mo(Z6)July 7, 2007

When I see asclepias syriaca growing along the roadside, it often looks like just a single stem coming up, but I'm wondering how wide it will spread in a garden (weed free) area. Will it send up several stems? I don't know how to space mine. The plants I got my seeds from were growing in a butterfly garden at a school and were about five feet tall and had very large leaves. I couldn't tell whether there were lots of plants or just a few that had spread.

This spring, the ones at the school's garden were already quite a bit taller and had bigger leaves than the wild ones coming up in the ditches although I'm pretty sure they were both syriaca. (I think)

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My syriacas are comming up bushy, but I've pinched them back, Christie. They look very nice so far. I would imagine, with little care, and competition from other wildflowers and weeds, they wouldn't look as nice. The only "nice" looking photos of wild milkweed I've seen were those of Randy in Oklahoma, who had Asclepias viridis (spider milkweed). The leaves on it are very robust and substantial.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 7:30PM
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Susan - Are they from seeds I sent you or did you have some others?
I went by the school today to see if the ones there were blooming and I was just about too late. There were just a couple that still had flowers, sort of a pale purplish pink and fragrant. They look like the pictures I've seen of syriaca. I didn't think to take my camera.
I like the way they look, kind of architectural. The leaves are quite a bit wider than tropical milkweed and thicker. I'm guessing about 6 to 7 inches long and 3 to 4 inches wide. They might have put a lot of compost in the beds so maybe they're just happy.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2007 at 11:10PM
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cecropia(z5 Oh)

Mine don't branch out but they do spread underground and come up all over the flower beds.In fact they're even growing in a crack in the sidewalk and in my gravel driveway.The leaves are huge,and the plants are close to seven feet tall and covered with flowers (and bees.)
Wish I knew how to post a pic here.Maybe I could email it to someone who does.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 2:06AM
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Common milkweed - syriaca- is very invasive in a home garden.

In the wild it gets little water, no fertilzer and has poor soil. In the home garden it gets lots of water, fertilizer and has good soil.
It goes nuts and will take over your garden, and lawn.

I'd recommend Asclepias incarnata as a great substitute, which stay in one place. They come in both white and pink versions. Also curassavica is a great annual milkweed.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 8:42AM
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I have a large yard so hopefully I can find the right spot for it.
Dan - How far are they coming up from the original plant? Are the runners deep? Maybe I should put edging around them to keep them contained. I like the big leaves and would like to make it work somehow.
Are there other milkweeds with huge leaves?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 9:21AM
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Yes, Christie, they are your seeds, and I think I had 100% germination on them! LOL!

I starting pinching them when they have their third set of true leaves, so they will branch out. Of course, they don't get that in the wild, so they would be entirely straight stems, without branching. Have you tried pinching or cutting back?


    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 1:39PM
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I didn't pinch those but some other things I did. I think I'll leave them alone for this year.
After the comments above and reading at some other sites, I think I would be wise to put some kind of barrier/edging around it. I don't know how deep or how big around it would need to be though. Do you think regular 6 inch deep edging would keep it contained or would it just go under?

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 1:59PM
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cecropia(z5 Oh)

Christie,they have traveled at least 6 feet from the original plant,but can be controlled by cutting them off at the ground.The roots are quite deep,so a barrier would probably need to be at least 18 inches to completely control them.
Don't know of any other milkweed with leaves as large as A. syriaca.I like this species because it provides plenty of food for lots of hungry cats,and lots of nectar for bees,butterflies and moths.I also have incarnata and must admit it looks better and is not invasive.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 4:02PM
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Fledgeling_(4b SD)

Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) has bigger leaves and flowers, and is just fuller in foliage to me. I prefer it to A. syriaca any day, plus it is more drought hardy for me.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2007 at 4:49PM
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onafixedincome(z8-9 CA)

Speciosa is neato! :) Very hardy, very easy. Can easily get it to spread vigorously by laying mainstems flat and covering them with soil, leaving the leaves out. They root in short order and get a move on.

It did take 3 years for mine to get to blooming, though.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2007 at 2:10AM
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