The butterfly weed, Asclepias tuberosa, didn't come back this year. Too wet?
Too wet is a good guess, especially if the soil isn't very well drained (i.e., sandy).
It's not sandy but clay. I just noticed this a.m., after a week of vacation, that a field that normally is full of butterfly weed has only 2 or 3 plants this year and they are right on the edge of the field, by the road, in an area that is elevated and therefore probably has better drainage.
If it's along side the road I wonder if they were either sprayed or mowed by your township.
I believe Prairie Moon Nursery has a variety of butterfly weed for clay.
I think Jeanne may be thinking of Prairie Nursery, which offers a 'butterflyweed for clay' -- or perhaps both sources have a similar offering.
Here is a link that might be useful: prairie nursery
My soil is also clay. I've found I can grow butterfly weed if I fork in perlite and sand. I also loosen up the soil and put rocks around where the seeds tend to take root. I started with three butterfly weeds and now have about ten.
Another thing you can do: go to the place you saw lots of tuberosas and take a couple handfuls of the soil (this is of course assuming this is public land and you can get the soil without harming the plants themselves). Then work this soil in with some good course sand as previously suggested. By transplanting soil as well, you're establishing the soil microenvironment which will greatly increase the fitness of the plants. I have seen this with multiple prairie gardens I've started or been associated with. Try it, it should do wonders!
Another note, make sure there arenÂt any nasty invasives lurking about when you take the soil other wise you might find yourself host to their brood!
Hope this helps,
Jessica ~that biology girl~
I would try not to mix sand and clay as such a mixture causes a concrete like substance that will have worse drainage than just clay. Use organic matter only when dealing with clay.
ï»¿The soil is not the problem-the field at one time had lots of them. This species is very susceptible
to herbicide use, I can tell when my neighbor uses his weed killer because my Butterfly weeds
develop stunted growth.
Another problem might have been predation of the plants.
I have found that this species will grow in moist soil, the limiting factor is the oxygen leaves of
couple of thoughts
even tho u didnt see them this year, doesnt mean they are gone. maybe u have to better manage for that particular spp. and/or it was just a bad year for that spp. weather wise. and/or the population just is going thru a 'phase'. and/or this site was maybe seeded and now the truth behind trying to make a prairie out of something that isnt a prairie is rearing its ugly head and u are not getting year over year regeneration because things just arnt right for them.
also: sand, clay, water(rain), a few stomps and u get the pyramids that are over 3000 years old. betchya nuthin grows very well on em too :)