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Posted by tracydr 9b (My Page) on
Sun, Aug 7, 11 at 15:51

Does anyone have milkweed seeds they could share? I'd especially like desert or tropical milkweed. I have lots of seeds if you'd like to trade something.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Milkweed?

Hi, Tracy! I am a butterfly gardener in OKC, but alas, don't have any Tropical seeds right now. I have a pod growing, and probably will have more eventually to share. Check out the Butterfly Gardening forum, or also the Seed Exchange Forum here at GW. People will have lots in the fall to share, but right now, it may be more difficult, but not impossible, to acquire some.

As far as Asclepias erosa, or Desert Milkweed, you might try the BG Forum, as well as the California and/or Arizona Forums. I found that Butterfly Encounters does carry this milkweed - 20 seeds for $3. It is not a native milkweed East of the Rockies, so may be hard to find folks who have it here on this forum. Since it is native to only 4 states - California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, getting seeds or plants from nurseries there would probably be much easier. I do grow A. speciosa - no seeds yet as they are only 2nd year plants that should bloom in their 3rd year - which is a Western milkweed. It might be more rampant for you, I'm not sure. You might want to research this if you decide you want this, or maybe you already grow it???

I'm giving you a link to Butterfly Encounters. Many people report having the best luck germinating their seed. A. erosa needs cold, moist stratification to germinate. Since you may not get cold enuff, you may want to stratify them in the fridge for 30 days at least, at which time you would plant them in seedling containers to grow out.

If I can help you any further, let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful: Butterfly Encounters

RE: Milkweed?

Thanks, Susanlynne! I had what I thought were Monarchs fly by my garden earlier in the summer, although there is another common AZ butterfly which can be mistaken for a Monarch and I'm not sure if I could tell the difference.
I'm not sure which milkweed would do best in my yard, either. If there is one that would do best in the shade and would like periodic flooding, because I have flood irrigation, that's what I need. I don't have a lot of sunny areas, although I have an area with filtered sunlight. I do have a few sunny areas that I can put it in the garden but sunny areas are at a premium.
If you do get some extra seeds this fall, I'd be happy to send you an SASE. I can't plant anything until fall, anyway. Nothing but okra would grow in this heat.

RE: Milkweed?

Do you want to stay with native milkweeds, other than the Tropical Milkweed, which is most likely going to be perennial in your area, not mine (I grow as an annual and collect the seeds)?

One that is native to the US, but not to Western USA (you can still grow as an ornamental), is Asclepias purpurescens, aka Purple Milkweed. The flowers are to die for. It can be difficult to establish from seed, and may take several tries, like it did for me. A friend finally gave me two plants that I am feeling comfortable will do well in the location I have them in. The problem for me was that the snails and cutworms LOVE this species, and I lost several plants before getting these two to survive. For me, it was planting last month - in a sheltered location beneath a pine tree. Knock on wood, the beasties have yet to find them. It is a beautiful milkweed, and about the only one that will do well in shady sites.

A. incarnata aka Swamp Milkweed, would do okay in part shade, but probably won't bloom. It has pink blooms and likes a moist, well-drained soil.

There are also a couple of milkweed vines that do well in part shade, but can easily get out of control unless you remove the flowers or seedpods before they ripen. They are Cynanchum laeve, or Blue Sandvine, and Sarcostemma cynanchoides aka Twine Vine. Sometimes the Monarchs will bypass them, though.

I have to say, my Tropical Milkweed is planted in part shade and is blooming its head off right now. So it will bloom in the shade and doesn't get real leggy either.

There is a milkweed, A. variegata, that blooms a beautiful white, but it is very hard to find. It does well in part shade, but good luck finding it. A friend in Tulsa is trying to establish a colony of it, but so far no pollination has occurred on her blooms, which is another problem with this milkweed. Difficult to start from seed, and to grow it large enough to sustain it. It is very rare, and populations have disappeared from its native habitat due to habitat destruction.

I am not sure what butterfly you saw that resembled a Monarch, but a good guess would be a Queen, which is in the same genus as the Monarch and its larval host plants are also milkweeds. The Viceroy is a Monarch mimic, but I think they are very rare in your area.

I am attaching a link to the Butterflies and Moths of North America website, and specifically to those butterflies seen in various parts of Arizona. You may also want to include other butterfly larval host plants eventually, like those for the Black and/or Anise Swallowtail butterfly, which eats Fennel, Dill, Rue, and other plants in the Apiaceae family. You should also get the beautiful Gulf Fritillary butterfly and in your zone, there are many lovely passion vines you can grow to attract them to lay eggs. Just don't use the red flowering types because they are lethal to the caterpillars. I grow 2 of these - the Passiflora incarnata and P. 'Lavendar Lady'. Incarnata is a rampant, aggressive vine you may not want, but there are lots of different ones available. 'Lavendar Lady' is just that, much more of a lady in the garden than incarnata.

I also invite you to look at and participate in the Butterfly Gardening Forum here at GW. We don't have anyone that I can think of that is from Arizona, so your input would be fantastic!

Hope this helps some.


Here is a link that might be useful: Butterflies and Moths of Arizona

RE: Milkweed?

Susan - I had several native milkweeds at our previous home, and intend to have them again. - over in Arkansas - has A. variegata and many others listed on her site.

Here is a link that might be useful: pine ridge gardens

RE: Milkweed?

Carol, you are right! Maryann has listed this milkweed species for so long as being "out of stock", that I never did think she would never offer any for sale. I notice she has them for fall 2011, and did not have them in her spring 2011 catalog, nor any previous years.

I wouldn't recommend this plant to a beginning gardener, and I am not saying that you are a beginner, Tracy. Just that they can be difficult. They are absolutely beautiful in bloom, and from a small plant, would probably bloom after 3 years in the ground. The flowers are extremely difficult to pollinate as the structure of the flowers cause the bees to become trapped in them and they are unable to extricate themselves in order for pollination to occur.

They are gorgeous plants, in danger of being lost in their habitat in several states, and rarely reported in others. So, in that case I would, contrary to the above recommendation, suggest trying them to see if a colony can be established in a home garden. They do spread slowly by underground rhizomes.


RE: Milkweed?

Thanks, everyone. What would be the easiest milkweed to grow for one year, and possibly, take some seeds with me to grow in OK? There is a good chance we'll be leaving next fall to move to OK. Don't know where yet, hubby needs to find a job. Looks like he will defend his dissertation sometime in September, 2012!
We have a lot of citrus and giant swallowtails. Those are so beautiful. I really need to plant more parsley, dill and cilantro this year. I just started to really have a chance to pay attention to the butterflies and it's so fun!

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