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Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Posted by mary_littlerockar 8a-7b Central Arkans (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 27, 13 at 16:43

If you'd like to try growing this plant as a Monarch Butterfly host, I have 5 packets of 20-25 seeds each to give away. I will just need your snail mail address. Retail Handling & Postage has gotten to be so expensive, there is no need to pay retail costs for this seed when I have more than I can use.

The seed was purchased for last years growing season and I didn't use all of them. I've checked them for viability this month and within 2 weeks of planting in a 2 liter mini greenhouse, 8 of 10 seeds have germinated so I feel they're still good. The seed has always been kept in the fridge.

The plants are rather awkward looking and unless pinched back early in the seaon, will grow to about 4-6 feet by end of season. In my experience, the Monarchs love this plant and it can be used as a good food source if you're raising Monarch cats for release. I fed my fall Monarch cats last fall by using cuttings from this plant. In my area, it remains fresh looking after a long hot season of growth.

I notice in the seed description below, the note that they require stratification. I've never done anything other than start them and have had great germination rates so I'm not certain if that bit of information is totally correct. Maybe keeping them in the fridge has provided the chill they need?

And ... I'd forgotten about the hardiness rating shown below. I wonder if my plants will come back from the base this spring?

Mary

Plant Description:

Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar or better know as family jewels plant aka Hairy Balls. A perennial plant with white flowers, grows 2-4 feet tall, does very well in full sun. The seed pods are the real star of this plant. Used extensively in floral arrangement and the butterflies are the bonus. Note seeds require stratification.

USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9.

This photo was taken Aug 29, 2012


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I could always use another Asclepias....
My snail mail is as follows.....
John Gern
15 Bluebird Ct, Unit 4
Madison, WI 53711
What is your address so I can send you a check for S&H..


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I also would love some:
Kenneth Quinn
1209 Central Avenue
Gadsden, AL 35904

I agree with John, I would be very happy to send money or stamps for S&H.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Mary, physocarpa seeds do not need cold stratification. Mine are stored in a cupboard. I soak the seeds in warm water 24 hours before starting seeds indoors. 100% of mine germinated this season.

Use a heated seed mat and the seeds will germinate after just 4 days. Hope this helps, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Tony,

Thank you for confirming my experience with this seed.

The statement about the seed requiring cold stratification was copied from an on-line description of the seed.

While I have your attention, may I ask if you pinch the growing tips after 5-6 true leaves to create a bushier plant? Last season I didn't pinch the growing tips but I planted in groups of three, which resulted in a nice shaped top. I guess I should try both ways of growing, then decide which I prefer. I must say, having the bushiest part of the plant up higher made it easier to check for insects.

Another positive thing I noticed about this plant ; it doesn't seem to be bothered as much by the yellow aphids as the other milkweeds. In my area, that is a blessing. Those little things can get out of hand in a hurry if I don't keep on top of them.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I know what you mean about those yellow aphids...
Sort of a nuisance. I think I'll try mine in multiple clumps in my "Weed Patch".


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Mary, I did not pinch them last year and they grew to about 8 feet here in Minnesota. (I started them indoors about this time)

I had 6 of them in a northern corner of the yard, so I liked the height. I will try your idea this year to see how much of a difference there is. Thanks for the tip :)

What pollinators have seen on it? Up here I've only seen the black wasps and one red admiral. My plants produced a lot of seed so it was definitely getting some action.(Never saw a monarch take nectar from it)

Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Tony,

No, I've never noticed very many pollinators on this plant and I don't remember seeing a Monarch nectar on it but Monarch eggs were laid on it. I grow it mainly for food for the little Monarch cats. The milkweed that is most used for nectar in my garden is butterfly weed (A. tuberosa) & Blood flower/Tropical (A. curvassica). The A. curvassica drops it's lower leaves throughout the summer and by the time fall migration begins and fall Monarch eggs are laid, I'm hurting for leaves to feed the little cats. Enter A. Physocarpus Oscar. He's a great performer for me.

And like your experience, there were enough pollinators at work to create several seed pods last season but a terrible thunderstorm tore off all but one pod. That one pod did survive and matured.

The wasps show up every year in my garden. I tried traps but they didn't work. I have to bring in the butterfly eggs and raise the cats in a protected environment, othewise they never seem to make it to the butterfly stage. It's amazing any survive in the wild.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Swamp and tropical are our most popular nectar milkweed plants. Common is OK but the bloom period is short. Adding some speciosa plants this season.

As for the wasps, remember they eat aphids too! I also raise monarchs inside to make up for all the predation going on.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Not all wasps are cat-eaters, either.
The most common visitor I have at my Asclepias is a large black and orange wasp known as Sphex, which feeds its young c katydid grasshoppers.
Sphex may look menacing, but is completely harmless to pets and people. They don't even defend their underground nests.They visit Asclepias strictly for nectar.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

If you have any left I would love them for my butterfly garden. My address is
Joann Cosgrove
25 New School Lane
Levittown PA 19054

I will be happy to pay you postage!


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Well, Mary here goes...
I just planted half my A. physocarpus seed in a paper egg carton and placed in a sunny window.
I must be crazy; it's only March!! But I figured I'd try some now and some in April and see which grows bigger.
From what I understand, these guys get pretty big!! So I'm getting a head start. I'm looking forward to feeding lots of butterflies and keeping ahead of the wasps!!
Thanx again,
John, AKA Leafhead<3


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

HI John,

Great to hear. Please keep us updated on how things go.

When the seeds germinate, you might consider moving them to a mini greenhouse, made from a 2 liter plastic bottle, so they'll have more room to develope their roots. This is what I use to start my seed and I've had great sucess with them. If you're not familiar with this method, check out the winter sowing forum here on Gardenweb, where you'll find lots of help with germinating and growing seedlings.

I notice here, with the greenhouse warming up during the day now, that my fall A. physocarpus seedlings are showing signs of new growth. I'm going to plant them out a bit earlier this year and see how they do. They may just set there until really warm weather arrives. Always fun to try new methods or new plants.

Mary

Here is a link that might be useful: mini greenhouse for seed starting ...


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I received your seeds today!! Thanks so much..I can't wait to plant them. I will do the milk jug method..winter sowing even though it is almost Spring! I can't wait to see how they do.
Joann


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

You're most welcome, Joann. We have a good section of the country represented in this thread. It will be interesting to learn of the growing success in different parts of the country.

It was someone on this board that put me on to A. Physocarpus Oscar. As I recall, she is from my general area. I thought, if she is having good luck with similiar type growing conditions, maybe it will do well for me too. It has turned out to be the best foliage milkweed for me. Now I'm not scrambling each season to locate Milkweed to feed the little cats. Without this gardener's posting, I don't know that I would have ever tried growing this milkweed. (and whomever it is, please forgive me for not remembering your name)

I hope I don't become too much of a pest with my postings but I've learned more from fellow forum members here on GardenWeb than from any other source.

... and for some real excitement in my day, I've just seen the first tiny milkweed sproute pushing up through the soil!!!

woohoo, come on Spring.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Congrats, Mary on your milkweed sighting! Are you a member of Journey North? They keep track of milkweed sightings on their website.

Your sighting gives me hope that it won't be too much longer until we see some here in Oklahoma.

Sandy


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Sandy,

Yes, I am a member of Journey North. I need to report my find. Thank you for reminding me.

I've already been checking their website for sightings this year.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi!
If you have any of the seeds left, I would love some! I had seen these plants last year at the Botanical Gardens. My address is '

J. Desso
1001 Woodbine Drive
Watkinsville, Ga. 30677


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

It is my pleasure to share this seed with you. Thank you for providing for the little flying jewels.

Happy Springtime!

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

John, you are starting them at a good time for Wisconsin. If you want to be able harvest your own seeds in late summer, they need to be started early so the seeds have time to mature.

Good luck, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Thank you for that. I'll start the rest of mine tomorrow. Nothing out of the ones I started last wk, but it's early yet...


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

John, you can always speed up germination on swan seeds with a heated seed mat. Good luck with your seedlings, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Thanx, Tony. I'll try my old Snake heating pad and see if that does the trick...


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I have a sandy, sunny area with some milkweed growing and would add some of this if you have any seeds left. Thanks for all the info!
B. Hall
2500 Park Avenue
Mpls, MN 55404


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

It's my pleasure to share. The seed will go out today. Thank you for planting for the Monarchs.

I've reverted back to using a better mailing envelope. If any earlier mailings were damaged by USPS, please let me know and I will resend.

This is the last of the seed (except for enough set aside to cover damaged mailings). Thank you all for offering to try this plant and for helping the Monarchs.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I see signs of life from my seedlings:-D It's been a couple of weeks but they're just breaking ground today. Go Oscar!! Here's hoping for a rapid recovery for our beloved Monarchs!!


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Thank you for the seeds, Mary, and the tips, Tony,
I'm getting a later start on planting them, but still have half a foot of snow in that area of the garden. I'll put them on the heat mat and hope for good results.

Tony, do they self seed and resprout in Minnesota? I'll save seeds, but want to put them where they won't completely take over.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Sandy,

I wouldn't worry about them taking over in this climate. This is just my second year growing them. I left some in the ground and mulched them...I'm not expecting them to come back but you never know.

You might try taking cuttings this fall too. If you can get them to root in water or dirt, you'll have much bigger plants to start next season. Good luck, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Thank you for the seed, Mary:)
Mine has all come up and is doing fine!! Yay:-)


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

You are so welcome. I'm very happy to hear they're doing well for you.

Please let us know how the plants do for you as the growing season progresses.

I have lots of Oscar seedlings in the GH but need to freshen up the beds before planting them out. Things are greening up here so time to get busy!

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Yay Spring!! Go Mary!! Good luck with those pretty little flying things:-)
John


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hello Mary, I am just starting out on trying to help out in the preservation of these great butterflies. I was wondering if you had any seeds left? I will gladly send a prepaid envelope. Thank you, Stephen


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hello Mary, I am just starting out on trying to help out in the preservation of these great butterflies. I was wondering if you had any seeds left? I will gladly send a prepaid envelope. Thank you, Stephen


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

  • Posted by cghpnd 7 / Virginia (My Page) on
    Fri, May 10, 13 at 12:10

That is very kind of you to give your seeds away. As I just began to help the monarchs myself (thanks to a school trip to DC to the Imax theatre and butterfly exhibit).
I am finding that milkweed is expensive around here. And they don't carry a variety its all swamp milkweed which that's all I have right now. I've looked at prices of seeds and WOW is all I can say. If you do happen to have anymore Id be more than happy to send money for them. :0)


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Try Monarch Watch and Butterfly Encounters. They have a wide variety of seed. They do need stratification, so they may be something to look at next year.
In the mean time, Marsh Milkweed makes a great host and nectar source.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Mary

I would love to grow this milkweed.. Monarchs are in my garden everyday and would like to have different ones for them.

Thanks
Christine


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hello Mary, Thank you for replying back. That is fantastic you still have seeds left. My address is Stephen Buckley, 1 Surrey Road, Chester, NY 10918. Please let me know your mailing address so I can forward you a SASE, Thank you so much


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I think I've now filled all requests for this seed. May I ask a favor; everyone who participates in seed requests or trades and hasn't yet added an email address to their GardenWeb page, to please do so. It cuts down on time spent trying to co-ordinate snail mail address and notices of seeds sent. If you don't want to share your primary email address, then you might consider getting a throw-a-way email address to use.

My thanks, Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

I think I've now filled all requests for this seed. May I ask a favor; everyone who participates in seed requests or trades and hasn't yet added an email address to their GardenWeb page, to please do so. It cuts down on time spent trying to co-ordinate snail mail address and notices of seeds sent. If you don't want to share your primary email address, then you might consider getting a throw-a-way email address to use.

My thanks, Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Mary,

just wanted to check in with you about your physocarpa plants from last season.

Are any of them coming back yet?

I'm still not sure about ours, but our weather has finally taken a 'warm' turn so I'll be checking it every couple days for signs.

Many things are 'slow' this year so I'm hesitant to give up on plants too quickly..

I hope yours are making a comeback, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi Tony,

No, nothing yet. The stubs still feel firm so I hopeful something will emerge from the base. We, too, have had an unusually cool spring. Everything else has shown growth so the Oscar roots may not be viable. I've planted new seedling groupings on both sides of the old plant stubs and they're growing now. I've been keeping a check on the Oscar Stubs and will let you know if it comes back.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

We've gotten 3" of rain the past few days and a lot of recent heat too....our swamp milkweed just started coming back a few days ago. The common is looking great...about monarch ready!

I haven't planted the physocarpa seedlings yet...they are HUGE, but keeping a fan on them has kept them all straight.

Hopefully next week we will have some good news on the physocarpa! Have a good weekend, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hello Mary, Thank you so much for the seeds. I got them today, can't wait to plant them! Thank you again!!!


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Mary,
I just planted six of the Oscar seeds I got from you back in April.
I still have six to go, plus some that I planted straight into the ground (they came up later). The older ones are about 3" high now and looking good. Thanx again for the free seed.
All my other milkweed is up or coming up and I just bought more today.
I've also added some Ice Ballet and some Poke Milkweed to the gardens.
Just waiting for the most precious of the Lepidoptera.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi John,

So glad the Oscar seeds are performing well for you. The seedlings I've transplanted into the garden are really taking hold now. I used homemade compost mixed with the garden soil when I planted them and they are really growing strong this season; nice strong stems already.

Another forum member recently explained to me the difference between Gomphocarpus physocarpus aka Hairy Balls and Gomphocarpus fruticosus aka Cotton Bush, both S African plants. I'd simply lumped both into the same general growing habits but she told me the 'Cotton Bush' is a bit smaller, with more willow like leaves and consensus is the roots should over winter in my growing zone and come back in the spring. My last year's Oscar hasn't come back from the roots so I'm going to also try the 'Cotton Bush' this year and see how it does here. I guess, for your growing zone, they might both be considered annuals. I'll let you know how the 'Cotton Bush' does; it might be something you would want to try.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Mary,

I dug up my old plants yesterday. When I cut the roots white sap started coming out...hard to believe they aren't alive.

I threw out 4, transplanted one, and potted one. I don't need to pay much attention to them now. I will be sure to post if they come back later, Tony


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Hi,
Where did you find seed for these?


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

If I'm remembering correctly, I ordered the seed from Geo Seed. In their current catalog, the seed is listed on page 46, down near the bottom. You can also download an order form on their site. The large seed catalog takes a minute to download and open, so give it a minute to load if you take a look.

Gomphocarpus fruticosus
Cotton bush 200sd $3.20
Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Hairy Balls 200sd $3.20
1M @ $10.45
1M @ $11.15

Here is a link that might be useful: online catalog for GeoSeed


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Does anyone know if these can be dried?

I am so thrilled with mine, I would like to keep them for decorating.

Thanks!


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

Is the seed mentioned above still available? We would purchase it somewhere if we knew who had it. We are in SE Wisconsin.


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

vvonier,

This is an old offer made in February of last year.

I don't know what the policy is for suggesting links to retail seed sites. Google the seed name and you should find a list of companies that offer this seed.

You might also want to enable your email address on your page so if someone happens to have this seed to share or offer for postage, they would be able to get in touch with you.

If you'll email me, I can suggest a couple of sites I've used to purchase this seed.

You might also post a WANT: in the Seed Exchange forum.

Mary


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RE: Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar - aka Hairy Balls - free Seed

vvonier,

GardenWeb has a 'Rate and Review Vendors' forum and I found an old post I made some years back regarding The Sample Seed Shop. The owner, Remy, used to trade a lot here on GardenWeb before she opened her on line seed shop.

She is currently offering seed packets containing 25 seeds of Asclepias Physocarpus Oscar. You can read the reviews of fellow gardenweb members by following the link below. Her web address is www.sampleseeds.com

She also offers three varieties of perennial Milkweed seeds.

Mary

Here is a link that might be useful: Sample Seed Shop - gardenweb ratings


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