Asclepias Questions

mikepots(7b Charlotte)January 10, 2008

Hey all, it's been a while since I've been to this site. I had some time to browse the topics and decided to post a question to you all.

I am an asclepias afficionado. I have grown from seed the following asclepias: curassavica, verticillata, incarnata and physocarpus. The seeds were all collected from plants I also grew from seed. All have grown well and have become very large. The physocarpus grew to 8 feet, and the curassavicas to almost 6 feet. They bloomed profusely throughout the summer. The incarnatas and verticillatas were two years old this past summer and did not bloom. I moved here from Boston a year ago where I grew them and they bloomed often. The seed I had started in Boston and moved them to NC with me. I am trying to figure out why they didn't bloom. I planted some in my mother-in-laws yard where The light levels are similar but the soil is very moist and sandy. I have ammended clay soil. Could that alone prevented the verticillata and incarnatas from blooming? If so, then how is it the more tender asclepias bloomed so well?

The one great thing is the plants were a virtual buffet for monarch catepillars!!!! I had sooo many this summer.

Looking forward to reading your replies!


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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

A. verticillata grows wild on my land, but I don't see it every year. I haven't been following bloom patterns long enough to know why that might be. The A. tuberosa here does bloom every year, although this past summer it did a lot less than usual and I never saw the verticillata at all.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 8:47PM
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A. tuberosa (Michael, you've got to get some of this kind now that you in NC) grows well for me and the A. curassavica has too. I have never had ANY luck with A. incarnata in my gardens in North Georgia. I eventually gave up on that one.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 8:59PM
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I'm looking for a source of Asclepias variegata seeds or plants. I have ONE in my wooded yard and it only blooms every once in a while but boy is it pretty. Me want more.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 9:39AM
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John, I have some seeds of that one. We found it in the woods this year.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 9:57AM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

I'd dearly love seed of A. variegata as well. I've seen it back in the power cut on a neighbor's land but not with seed, and like John's, there was only one plant. I grew incarnata once but it was a real aphid magnet.

Seneca Hill Nursery has some wonderful looking species listed in the current catalog.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seneca Hill

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 2:08PM
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mikepots(7b Charlotte)

I won't quit on the incarnata yet. If nothing happens this year then I'll quit. I wonder if it's the humidity that does it? Boston summers were much hotter but not as humid.
What is variegata? I'm assuming it's a variegated form? I'd be open to trading plants or seeds with you. I have a lot of rooted cuttings of Stachytarpheta's that I could trade. I could also trade some plumeria cuttings.
I've just ordered five tuberosa's. I always saw them in the fields in Ohio. One time I came across a tuberosa that was a deep violet and I regret not digging it up and cultivating it. It was the same size as the orange tuberosas which is why I believe it to have been a tuberosa. Hindsight is 20/20.
I've also come across while biking the roads vast strands of passiflora. I love seeing them growing wild! and the lobelias!!!!
OK, enough for right now. I have to save some of my tales for future readings!

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 4:14PM
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Tammy Kennedy

a purple tuberosa? that would really be something to see! there are so many species, though i wonder if it wasn't something else. i have scads of seeds from tuberosum if you want some. they are easy to germinate when fresh, and do well directly sown. you won't get flowers til the 2nd or 3rd year, but it's a great way to get a good stand. let me know if you want some. boston summers hotter than charlotte? really?

i've tried to start incarnata from seeds a few times, and got small plants, but they fizzled in the garden. i'm trying to get some syriaca going as a good base for monarchs but haven't had much luck yet. i've only seen them in one spot this warm, so 'm thinking they don't care for our humidity.

i'd love to get seeds for the variegata, too. i'm open to swapping...

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 4:35PM
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I don't know why they named it A. variegata, there is no part of it variegated that I can see. It has wide rounded leaves (that don't look anything like any other butterfly weed), gets only a foot or so tall, kinda hides in with all the other forest floor plants, blooms one perfect extra-white umbel of normal Asclepias type flowers. Mine stayed in flower for a month or more. It never made a seed pod. I imagine they are all over the place but that they only bloom once in a while so you never notice them.

The purple one was probably not a A. tuberosa, sounds more like one of the swamp ones (which can range from deep purple to almost white and any shade of pink in between, and can even be two toned or edged in white. It also doesn't have to be growing in a swamp, just needs one wet season a year to be happy).

I am not the best seed starter - though I never give up! I've got seeds in pots that are going on their THIRD spring this year that I might just throw out if nothing pops out of the ground. I would be happy to trade for seeds, I have a lot of everything but mostly grow from cuttings which are mostly shared at our twice a year swaps here in the Raleigh area. I'd throw in a first born child for some Asclepias variegata seeds but since I have no children of my own I'm willing to toss in one of Tammy's. There good kids, know how to weed a garden.... good with pets...???

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 5:18PM
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The variegata is not variegated on the leaves. It is just a white flowered form.

I have one single fat pod of seeds fresh from 2007. I'd be happy to send each of you a portion of that (that is each of the four people that already asked: John, Karen, Mike and Tamelask). Send me an email via GW with your address and I'll mail them to you. No trading required.

Mike, look at Asclepias syriaca to see if that is the purple one you saw. I think that's pretty common in Ohio.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good picture of the white one

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 5:23PM
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mikepots(7b Charlotte)

Hi Everyone!
I love chatting about this stuff. I can't believe I hadn't been on for so long.
I checked the link and it isn't a syriaca. I had really looked around the field at the other tuberosas that were blooming and noted the size and shape of all the plants and it was identical in leaf size and hieght and width as the tuberosa. So I concluded it was a tuberosa that had a gene alteration...It was an intense violet, no white in it to make it pink or lavender.
About germinating seed of most asclepias. I find that seeds that require stratification benefit from being wrapped in moist paper towels that have been soaked in a peroxide and water solution, then placed in the fridge for approximately two weeks. Lay the seed on top of the soil, sprinkle some milled spaghmum, and grow on a heat mat under lights. I have always had far more plants than i ever needed. I even had seeds germinating in the refridgerator!
I wish I had saved all my seed. I collect so many that I have a cabinet full of jars with seeds. I inventoried in November and decided to compost most of them and start fresh.
esh ga, I definitely want some variegata seeds!!! Do they need to be stratified? Here is my email:
SHoot me and email and I'll give you my address.
Do any of you want any abutilon 'voodoo' or 'megapotamicum' cuttings? or even the blue stachytarphetas? I made too many cuttings this year and I need to get them out so I can start seeds...
Let me know and I'll send them your way!

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 1:34PM
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karen__w(z7 Durham, NC)

esh ga, I'll send you an e-mail. And even if you don't need anything in trade, I'm happy to send or collect something.

Michael, I'd love blue stachytarpheta, if you think it would travel OK this time of year. Too bad we didn't have this conversation earlier -- I was down in Charlotte visiting relatives a couple of weeks ago. I'd have come by to pick one up.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 2:02PM
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Tammy, once you get syriaca going it spreads easily. I've had to kill it in one part of my garden. It's usually pretty ugly IMO and I only let it live in the wild outskirts now. But the Monarchs seem to prefer it over other species I've tried and they're pretty enough to make up for the ugly plants. I've been able to pot it up successfully before if you'd like me to try and bring you some this spring.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 2:19PM
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mikepots(7b Charlotte)

Karen, I think it will be ok to ship this time of year. The cuttings are well rooted and still small. However, these plants grow very quickly so I don't think the size of them right now will be a problem.
Email me your address and I will ship them to you the first week of February. is my email address.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 5:56PM
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Tammy Kennedy

dana, thanks, i would love to get some this spring if you can. just let me know what you'd like in return. i know it's weedy in nature and looks, but i've always observed the same thing- that the monarchs prefer it over most anything else. another thing i like is the leaves and plants are so much bigger that i can feed a lot more cats with many fewer leaves. i stripped my tuberosums nearly bare last year trying to keep up with the cats. despite it being sort of homely, it has a sort of regular, architectural look about it i like when there's a whole patch of them. i have some places i think i could let it spread. and, since i back up to lake easement/swamp, i may just have to spread some seeds in some wild areas to 'help' get a patch going back there eventually...

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 1:35PM
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Tammy Kennedy

i don't know how i missed a couple of the posts, inc and especially the one volunteering to swap my kids for seeds! believe me, there are times i'd swap the 13 yr old for seeds, but not all too often- yet. lol. :) seriously, john called tonight to say he received them already. thank you so much esh! i wish i could send something in return. your pix of that plant (which i also missed) are gorgeous! that is one happy plant! what conditions is it happy with? thanks again, tammy

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 10:15PM
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I cannot take credit for the pictures in that other post. However, my flowers look just like that.

I usually find this plant in open wooded areas (they need enough sun to bloom). The one in my garden was accidentally transplanted when I rescued an azalea. It gets lots of morning sun (it is still with the azalea). This past year, my plant was huge - it had like 17 blooms on it!! But mine didn't set any seed; very disappointing. The pod that I had to share was from one that we found in the woods this fall.

Karen, I don't know if you've emailed me yet, but I didn't get a mail from you so far.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 9:20AM
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Tammy Kennedy

great! morning sun i have lots of. it's full sun i'm severely lacking in. matter of fact, if i get more than a few seeds going i'll try it in a few spots. thanks again!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2008 at 9:50AM
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lumpkat(Z8 NC)

I have a dozen monarch butterfly caterpillars munching away on my butterfly weed plants. I realize the caterpillars will become beautiful butterflies within a few weeks and I will not disturb them.

My question: Will these plants be OK? These critters are really doing a number on the leaves.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 1:58PM
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They do munch them down to the nub but they always seem to recover after the caterpillars move on to pupate and become butterflies.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 2:35PM
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