dieing milkweed :(

903ASP(5)April 22, 2013

Can someone with a Green thumb help me save these recently purchased milk weed plants. I planted them in this pot on 4/17, the day i received them from Got-milkweed.com, and on 4/21 they were dieing? Gave them water every day, and had them in sun room, where temp never dropped to below 32, and they had sun for 4-5 hours. Just switched soil with fresh garden soil from Home Depot today, but not sure if that's enough to save them?

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No green thumb here but I do know that milkweeds can dislike being moved...were these dug up? I don't think soil will save them....I would probably plant 'em outside and hope the root survives for them to regrow? I'm sure the experts will give you hope.

I'm very sorry this happened. If they don't survive I would sow some seeds and grow your own...they are fairly easy to germinate! Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 7:14AM
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I didn't actually move them Adidas, they came wrapped in some light netting, and then in in damp paper towels. I then just put each one in the pot. Can't keep them outside 24/7 yet either, It's still getting down to frost levels at night. Where they are in pic, is inside, in front of South side of picture window, to get as much sun as possible. They did send a handful of seeds too,and they are planted in their own pot. I'm hoping plants survive, because Monarchs are going to need them, and there are not any Milkweed around here :( Thanks for reply :)

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 10:46AM
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Milkweed in these parts (asclepias tuberosa) needs dry well drained soil. They get very unhappy with wet feet.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Oh damn Wally, i guess that's why i have a "Black" thumb :( I won't give them anymore water then, and hope they recover :)
Thanks for the info. I'll post back with results........maybe a week?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 3:59PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi 903, your dying plants look like tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. If so, this is a tropical plant that can't tolerate freezing temps, and it looks like yours might have been frosted. The other most likely problem is that they've been over-watered, which is actually pretty common in a pot or container (the most common cause of death in houseplants, I've heard). I use a water meter for my houseplants to test whether they're dry or not, for that reason.

In any case, I'm not sure they are salvageable. Perhaps if the stalks are not dead they can send up new shoots. Milkweed stalks and roots do often send out new shoots during the growth season because they have adapted to being defoliated by the Monarch caterpillars.

However, if your plants are dead, tropical milkweed is very easy to start from seed, and it grows quickly like an annual. I usually grow it in the ground though. Containers can be tricky - you need to have good drainage, and provide supplemental fertilizer. Do you have a spot outdoors where you can grow it?

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:56PM
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They haven't been outside Terrene, because in my zone ( 5 ), the frost season isn't over yet, but i have probably over watered them, even though the pot has good drainage. In fact i may have drowned them :( The site i bought them from knew what zone i was in, so i assume they're ok for my area ( don't know their Latin name? ). I can only hope they'll come back. I have planted some seeds, in a pot, and was going to transplant those outside......if they came up. With my Black thumb though, i'm not holding my breath. Just disappointed in myself, because the plants themselves would have been big enough for the Monarchs to lay their eggs on , now i don't know if i'll have anything worth them looking at, much less laying eggs on :( I think i'll stick to plastic flowers.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:50AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Which milkweed do you have?

I have only successfully moved very young milkweed plants (A. syriaca). The older plants resent it much. If these don't work out for you, collect some local seed this summer/fall and try winter sowing the seeds for young plants next spring.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 9:18AM
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I don't know what type of milkweed they are Fata, just that they are for zone 5. I'm going to find a local nursery, and see if they have any young pants, because i'd like Monarch eggs/caterpillars this summer. I haven't seen any milkweed plants in my short rides back and forth from town, but i'll keep my eyes peeled :)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:19AM
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butterflymomok(7a NE OK)

I don't normally post on this forum, but if your stalks stay green and don't go limp, you have a good chance that the milkweed will leaf out again. Let dry between waterings, and keep in good light. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 8:11PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

We have a healthy crop of common milkweed here. We have fostered it in the decade+ we've owned the house. It can take the butterflies some time to find you but once they do and you have a goodly crop of milkweed, they will always be sure to stop by! That is what happened with us. Good luck!


    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 11:27AM
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Elly_NJ(NJ z6)

Is Milkweed happy in a pot? Isn't it too big?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:24AM
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bostedo(8a tx-bp-dfw)

Another possibility is that the 4 to 5 hours of sunlight could have cooked it. They seem to take rapid changes in lighting pretty hard. If uncertain of the conditions it had been growing in, best to start in dappled shade and gradually increase light exposure (while still in a pot, anyway).

Agree with what's been said previously about their resilience; so would not give up too soon. Leaves on our swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata) looked like those in your photo after I moved its container last year... twice. Ours came back quickly from the first shock, but the second (~August) shut it down for the season. Thought we lost it, but planted the roots in its intended sunny location and it is doing fine this year. Your plant is a different variety, but suspect many of the asclepias are tough this way.

Edit: Added link to FAQ that mentions sun hardening asclepias when transplanting.

Here is a link that might be useful: Starting asclepias FAQ at wildflower.org

This post was edited by bostedo on Tue, Apr 30, 13 at 17:03

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Thanks for all the info guys, and sorry for taking so long to get back. They were kind enough to send me new plants, and they are doing fine ( see pic ). Transplanted bad looking plants, in hopes that they will recover. If not this year, maybe next year. Get a lot of Monarchs, and Swallowtail butterflies here, so maybe i'll have some luck with eggs :)

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 8:01PM
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