Please consider planting Tropical or Oscar milkweed this season

mary_littlerockar(8a-7b mid Arkansas)February 28, 2014

I have read of the huge decline in Monarch breeding stock this year. They are now stirring and preparing for their journey north from Mexico.

Many butterfly enthusiasts have made a plea for home gardeners to consider raising milkweed plants this year and many have responded that they will help.

I would like to also ask for those same gardeners to plant and grow the tropical milkweed aka Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica) this season and/ or Oscar (Asclepias Physocarpus). The reason I ask is most of the 1st year perennial milkweed will be tiny during this first year of growth, as these plants will concentrate on developing a good root structure over top growth. There will not be much in the way of leaves and almost surely, no blooms. The exception to this would be Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), which usually produces more top growth the first year.

This year is critical, due to the low numbers of migrating Monarchs. Tropical and Oscar Milkweed in almost all areas of the states is treated as an annual. It grows faster and will produce more leaf growth and blooms for this season, plus it regenerates faster than the perennial varieties of milkweed.

There is some debate regarding growing these two milkweeds, as some people feel it encourages delays in the start of the fall migration. Others believe it has no effect; that other factors trigger the urge to begin the migration back to Mexico.

Whatever side you fall on, the terribly low numbers of returning Monarchs will need all the help they can get this year. Please locate some seed of at least one of these fast growing milkweeds and get them started for summer growth.

To locate sellers of milkweed seed, google milkweed seed for sale. A good source I've used in the past is GeoSeed. They carry both Tropical and Oscar seed. They sell mainly to growers but will sell to home gardeners. The size of the seed packet is much larger than retail stores but their shipping/handling is a min of $5.00, which has always covered my shipping costs for my seed orders. If you're looking for large seed packets, I've found them to be a good, reliable source.

My thanks for taking the time to read and for helping the Monarch Butterfly.

Mary

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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I just planted some A. Curassavica seeds today. I'm not very hopeful that any Monarchs will reach Michigan this year, but I'll be ready if they do. I already had A. Tuberosa, a. Incarnata, A. Syriaca, and Poke Milkweed, and I've wintersown a few new native species. But, I wanted to have some plants growing in smaller pots to use in my rearing tent that I'll try to keep protected from OE infestation. Hope everyone has a successful year!

Martha

    Bookmark   March 3, 2014 at 10:29PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I got 20 healthy seedlings, so far. I transplanted them into individual pots today. I doubt I'll need that many plants, so maybe I can share if anyone near me gets Monarch eggs or cats. I think that may be overly optimistic this year.

Martha

    Bookmark   April 6, 2014 at 7:28PM
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phrelco(9b to 10a So Cal)

Note of caution: For those growing A. curassivica in areas where it is perennial, it is advisable to cut it down to the ground in the fall in order to eliminate OE spores residing and overwintering on the plants, and to discourage Monarch butterfly adults from lingering. Does anyone know if A. physocarpus can be pruned to the ground also?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:56AM
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wifey2mikey(7a Tulsa, OK)

Hi Mary - popping over here from the Butterfly Gardening page.

I am happy to report that I have planted and have seedlings for curassavica and physocarpa! My incarnata and tuberosa are up and doing well, and I have Sand Vine or Blue Vine coming up everywhere. I also have some new Narrow Leaf Milkweed plants that are decent sized AND if that wasn't enough, I ordered some Sullivant's Milkweed that should arrive this next week.

Hopefully doing my part to help the Monarchs!

~Laura

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 8:55PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

My milkweed collection is also growing by leaps and bounds. My one container of currisavica has turned into at least 40 seedlings. I have six large containers of incarnata seedlings, three containers with Whorled Milkweed just starting to sprout (I can't remember the Latin for the moment), and three large containers of tons of syriaca sprouting. My goal is to grow mostly incarnata in order to collect seeds and distribute them where needed. Incarnata is such a well-behaved milkweed and very attractive to Monarchs for both nectar and egg-laying. It seems like a good choice for introducing into more traditional gardens. So, I'm off to a great start and should have plenty of seed to share in future years.

Martha

    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:10PM
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