butterfly plant darnit?!

steelskies(5)August 2, 2013

I think I've bought 4 plants over the years, and have just one left that is just one long tall stalk, but at least it has some orange flowers on it. I hear and read they are hard to grow, and this seems to be the case. HOWEVER, now I see it growing wild and healthy on the side of my road abut a half mile from my farm - obviously neglected and not fertilized or watered. I really should give up on these, but I bought ANOTHER plant. But it seems hopeless.

I have my one existing plant where I know the drainage is good, and other perennials are doing well there. And it is not too wet their either.

Anyone want to share their success stories

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"obviously neglected and not fertilized or watered".

What kind of soil is on the side of the road? I had very good luck growing it in very sandy soil, dry. Maybe yours is too rich or too much clay? They prefer sandy or gravelly and will do well in drought.

Just my personal preference but I like many other varieties of milkweed better. I just don't like fully denuded plants that are constantly covered in aphids in the garden area because even if they do get orange flowers, the plants look like crap. I'd just enjoy the ones on the side of the road if I were in your situation. I wish I could grow Desert Milkweed. I am going to get seeds and try it as an annual and try one outside in the ground with great drainage on the south by a wall. I love that plant.

I purchased Asclepias angustifolia this spring and I really like it, subtle but structural. I read that the orange butterfly weed is really not a favorite of the monarchs if that is your reason for planting it. They will use it if nothing else is available but prefer all other types of milkweed. Someone will probably write in to dispute this because some people are very focused and passionate on the monarch subject. For me, the looks of the plants are the first interest and all the butterflies are just the nice result so I'm not a zealot and would choose a plant that looks good in that spot. I am trying to understand why the monarch gets all the press, others are endangered as well, but, there it is.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sat, Aug 3, 13 at 19:18

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 6:26PM
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Very interesting take on this plant, the butterfly situation, etc. I have tons of the common milkweed, so the butterflies should be very happy. I guess I don't really need the orange butterfly plant, but I think I want it just BECAUSE it is so hard to grow. I do really like the bright orange color of the flowers though.

I have a bucket of sand. I'm going to mix a lot of that in with my other soil. Along the road, I am sure its not sand. Our area has a lot of clay.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 9:02PM
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steel, I hear you on the clay. We brought in a whole dump truck load of sand and it was cheap. Tons of it like when they build new homes and dump that big pile for concrete. It is by far the best thing I ever did for my soil. Better than all the compost, leaves, peat moss you name it, I've mixed it into the "dirt". And, get this..... the best part is I never have mud anymore when its wet or cracks when its dry. Roots grow down deep, plants look better and watering is a breeze because it soaks in quick and deep and the soil stays damp longer.

I had bought two butterfly plants at Walmart about three years ago. I planted one in the area up higher on the west end that I didn't amend. That soil dries out fast, gets hard and cracks. The other plant was planted on one of the mounds I made with the sand mixed into the soil. The second plant was three times the size of the one in the clay up higher by the end of the season. Its because they form a big tap root and I decided the clay is too dense to allow that. I know that about the roots from yanking them out because of the aphids. The root and top part on the smaller plant wasn't much different than when I'd first planted it but the other one had a big root and took some digging.

This post was edited by GreatPlains1 on Sat, Aug 3, 13 at 22:41

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Do you have a wet, sunny spot in your garden? Try Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). They tolerate wet soils well.
For shade, try Poke Milkweed (A. exaltata).
Sunny, dry spots are perfect for Common Milkweed (A. syriaca).
Experiment with native species of Milkweed, as Butterfly Weed has a lower nutritional value than most other milkweeds.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2013 at 4:07PM
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