Wild milkweed

schoolhouse_gwJune 20, 2011

I am always delighted to see this growing along the road in front of my hedge (and somewhat inside the hedge) as it is rarely seen in my area anymore. So I encouraged it for the last four years or so, the same few plants growing in the same place. Well, this year there were two young plants growing in my flower border, some in the orchard and some along the property line and the back yard. When a gardening friend saw the ones in the flower bed she told me that they will become a nuisance because they spread by runners. Is that true? I thought it was by seed. So I tore them out. I didn't see any or much root attached, so perhaps there are runners under the soil now?

I have some hybrid milkweed in a spot in the orchard I bought at a nursery, totally different foliage and stalk than the wild, and it hasn't spread. I really like milkweed because of the butterflies, and I've even seen birds using the silk to build nests (saw orioles one year doing this with the previous year's seed pod silk).

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I love this milkweed and it showed up a few years ago in the garden in front of my porch. I let it grow because I wanted to encourage the monarchs, but none really came around or laid eggs the first year or so. I did try to pull some of it out, but it just kept getting thicker and thicker. Last year a lot of monarchs showed up and I raised several caterpillars into butterflies, but I am afraid that this year I have to get it out. It is smothering everything in the garden. :( It does spread by underground runners. You can pull it and it 'seems' like it comes out easily, BUT it just comes off the runner that is deeper underground and is spreading! Right now I am in the process of stripping everything out of the garden and will wait a while to see if I have all the little pieces of runners out. If I had an area that I could just let it go wherever it wanted, then I would plant it, but it doesn't belong in a bed where it can't be contained.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 1:29PM
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There are 3 different milkweeds on my property.

One type blooms the brightest red-orange.

One blooms white and another a greenish white.

They do not seem to spread or selfseed to a great extent. I wish they did. I have found that it is impossible to transplant them due to their long taproots.

I often see butterflies hovering over them, but have not watched to see their life cycles.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 2:48PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

It has taken me some time to establish milkweed here. The orange is now spreading and doing quite nicely, especially by the side of the road (no surprise there!!!). I have tried the pink again (and again) but I have successfully established it in our church garden. Go figure.
I think I have Family Jewels going to bloom this year. Perhaps. Not 100% sure that is what the plant is, but it sort of looks like it!!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 3:03PM
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natal(Louisiana 8b)

I don't know what wild milkweed looks like. Mine are all A. curassavica.

I've noticed the yellow variety (Silky Gold) does tend to run, but hasn't been a problem. I hosted one group of Monarchs this spring ... they stripped the plants bare, but they're leafed out again and flowering. Hoping the milkweed beetle stays away this year.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 4:36PM
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I found some photos online of what I call the wild variety. This is what we always called milkweed, and I didn't know about the other varieties (i.e. pink, red or yellow) until the nurseries started selling it. In fact, I knew it as "Butterfly Weed" from the nurseries. Then several years ago I planted a milkweed that blooms pink but looks nothing like the wild variety as far as foliage and growth habit. Except it does get the familiar seed pods in the fall only they are much smaller.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 5:11PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)

Interesting, schoolhouse ... glad you posted this because this plant just showed up in my flower beds this year and I have been wondering what type of milkweed it is ... it has the developing fat seed pod like the one you show above but the flowers on mine were white, not pink ... the flowers are inconspicuous and didn't attract butterflies that I could tell though I saw one tiny caterpillar on it but no chewed leaves ...

I have another one that also "just showed up" and its seed pods look like miniature green beans ... I really don't know what I have, but recognized the leaf on both as milkweed (sadly, after I had weeded out a few) ... any clue on what to call them for trades?

Barbara in Virginia zone 7a

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Sorry, like I said I'm not that familiar with milkweed varieties other than the wild and the one I bought at the nursery. While typing this, I remembered my book I keep plant tags in and found the name of it: Asclepias, Incarnata Cinderella. Common name: Butterfly Flowers. And I planted it in Spring 2009 - not three years ago like I thought. Pretty sure this it. Now you have me wondering just what the seed pods look like, I thought they were like the wild milkweed but much smaller. I probably made you more confused. Perhaps you could Google "Ascelpias" and read what they say and see an image.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 8:24PM
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plays_in_dirt_dirt(Z7A VA bordering NC state line)

A googlin' I will go ... I definitely have the one in your photo ... I have winter sown A. tuberosum, A. syrica (common milkweed), and A. incarnata (swamp milkweed) but the latter didn't germinate ... I know what the A. tuberosum seed pods look like, so I don't have to research that ... want to get to the bottom of this so I can label seeds accurately ... my flower beds border an abandoned cornfield and every year I have something new show up ... fun, though ...

Your photo helped me tremendously ... thanks again ...

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 9:19PM
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I have milkweed growing EVERYWHERE. It has to be the most invasive weed in my garden. They grow fast and with THICK stems (close to 2 inches). I cut them then Round up the wounded stem, but another will pop up as soon as that one is gone.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 12:07AM
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I too have a field of milkweed in my wilder area. It is a very invasive plant. You would be amazed at the thickness and length of the roots that I have pulled out. I let them go in the wild area but pull up any that try to grow near the garden.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 7:49AM
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I have a slowly spreading patch of pink wild milkweed, and it does spread some by seed also, but I always cut off the seedpods when they pop and take them out to a wild area near my woods to scatter the seed. The giant fritillary butterflies love it, they visit the flowers by the hundreds in the summer, but the caterpillars don't feed on the milkweed, they feed on exclusively on wild violet foliage. Not sure what insect feeds on the pink milkweed, but I know that the groundhog-in-residence loves it and keeps it well pruned! I would love to get the orange butterfly weed established, but they are hard to transplant and don't seem to like my garden. I know of a patch that I would like to get seed from but the road mowers always get it just before it goes to seed and I never get any.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2011 at 12:26PM
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