Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Asclepias incarnata or Swamp Milkweed

And the last of our Asclepias we are trying is Asclepias incarnata.  From Prairie Moon Nursery where we got our seeds:  Rose Milkweed, is also commonly called Red Milkweed, Marsh Milkweed, or Swamp Milkweed.  That lovely vanilla fragrance you detect coming from large rosy pink flowers possibly hosting several Monarch or Swallowtail butterflies is Swamp Milkweed.  This deer-resistant plant grows in moist to average soils, and blooms in July and August.  Later, large pods form which will break open to reveal seeds that will float away in the wind. If growing Rose Milkweed from seed, try fall planting - or if planting in spring be sure to first moist-cold stratify the seeds for a month.  Large numbers of Rose Milkweed can often be seen growing in wetland settings.

These seeds were started the same way as our other milkweeds - 30 days stratification using the coffee filter method.  Our main propagation page is linked here.  At the end of that period we met and potted up our seeds, placing about 3-4 seeds in a pot.  We used deep pots anticipating that they will need to stay in the pots for quite a while to show enough growth to plant.  Since they will have a tap root and dislike disturbance we want to move them only once now.  Some were potted up in early May and the remaining in early June. 

June 10, 2015
Plants are in my holding area awaiting distribution to some of our membership.  Hopefully all will survive over the summer with some TLC. 

Asclepias incarnata.
Two pots showing a little growth.

End of summer 2015
As summer ends our members are putting their milkweeds to bed for the winter.  Those that have our seedlings from June still in pots will mound with a thick pile of mulch to ensure that the roots don't freeze and die over the winter.  Those that are planted in the ground will be cut back to the ground and given an extra layer of mulch for protection.  Hopefully when spring arrives we will see new sprouts, lots of growth, blooms for the first time and monarch caterpillars in the fall.

Below are a few photos sent by various members.

Judy planted hers in her front yard.

Debbie's is next to her water garden and
is very happy!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Asclepias tuberosa or Butterfly Weed

From the Missouri Botanical Garden site:  Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth tends to emerge late in the spring. Plants are easily grown from seed, but are somewhat slow to establish and may take 2-3 years to produce flowers. Mature plants may freely self-seed in the landscape if seed pods are not removed prior to splitting open. Butterfly weed does not transplant well due to its deep taproot, and is probably best left undisturbed once established.
Noteworthy Characteristics
Butterfly weed is a tuberous rooted, Missouri native perennial which occurs in dry/rocky open woods, glades, prairies, fields and roadsides throughout the State (Steyermark). It typically grows in a clump to 1-3' tall and features clusters (umbels) of bright orange to yellow-orange flowers atop upright to reclining, hairy stems with narrow, lance-shaped leaves. Unlike many of the other milkweeds, this species does not have milky-sapped stems. Flowers give way to prominent, spindle-shaped seed pods (3-6" long) which split open when ripe releasing numerous silky-tailed seeds for dispersal by the wind. Seed pods are valued in dried flower arrangements. Long bloom period from late spring throughout the summer. Flowers are a nectar source for many butterflies and leaves are a food source for monarch butterfly larvae (caterpillars). Also commonly called pleurisy root in reference to a prior medicinal use of the plant roots to treat lung inflammations.

Orange butterfly weed is also a native here, seen along the roadside, along golf courses, back roads and in fieldsAlmost anywhere there is hot, dry, clay, crummy soil you can spot a few plants.  From what I have seen, they never appear in a huge abundant plot like the common milkweed, but they are common.  I tried them in my yard many years ago and evidently had too enriched of a spot.  I am trying them again on my lower, south facing bank and not amending the soil at all.  Hopefully this time they will prosper.

My seeds were started last fall using the milk jug method and from a friend.  I noticed sprouts starting in late spring and have just now gotten around to potting them up.  The seedlings are very small and probably only 25-30" germination rate.  But I have some!   It is June 9, 2015 and they are now potted up and placed with the others in a holding area. 
Enough for a couple of pots.
Photo taken June 9, 2015

 All our future posts will be on our Marvelous Milkweeds page as an ongoing journal.

Asclepias verticillata or Whorled Milkweed

From The Prairie Moon Nursery description: Asclepias verticillata (Whorled Milkweed) has very skinny, "whorled" leaves. There are clusters of approximately 20 flowers near the top of each plant. Whorled Milkweed can bloom anytime between July and September, which is later in the year than many other Milkweeds.  The white flowers can be a greenish-white on some plants. When the Whorled Milkweed is mature it reaches a height around 2'.  The nectar of the flowers attracts many kinds of insects, including long-tongued bees, short-tongued bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, skippers and beetles.  Whorled Milkweed is deer and rabbit-resistant.

April 12, 2015
WV Sprout.  As with the other milkweed seeds we are starting, I have removed the stratified seeds from their home in the refrigerator.  They have been in the refrigerator since March 2.

Using a soilless mix and placing 5-6 seeds in a large pot, I have planted several pots today and taken outside in the hopes that I will now see some sprouts.  We hope to have pots with green leaves showing by our June membership picnic.  Our weather is already very warm, but the last frost date here is May 10.  A dry week is predicted so I will have to watch and make sure these pots don't dry out.

A large bucket of moistened soilless mix
and a few smaller pots.  5-6 seeds will
to into each of the smaller pots.

June 9, 2014  So far, so good!  We have actually had a high germination rate of our seeds.  They were potted up at two different times, one set April 12 (above) and the other just recently.  The earlier pots are doing well and shown below.  These are in the holding area where the Baptisia plants are located; you can see one in the lower right in the white rimmed pots.  Other asclepias are in a sunnier spot and you can see their progress under whirled milkweed and spider milkweed.

Holding area for the Whorled Milkweed.
The pots with seedlings are from the April
workshop.  The empty ones just had seeds put in
them a couple of weeks ago.
A close up of Whorled Milkweed.

August 13, 2015
Symphony Sprout shared a photo of her whorled milkweed! Lots of great growth over the summer. 

All our future posts will be on the Marvelous Milkweeds page as an ongoing journal.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Lovely Blue Columbine - The Eagle and the Dove

From Wikipedia - The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle's claw. The common name "columbine" comes from the Latin for "dove", due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.  Columbine is a hardy perennial, which propagates by seed. It will grow to a height of 15 to 20 inches. It will grow in full sun; however, it prefers growing in partial shade and well drained soil, and is able to tolerate average soils and dry soil conditions. Columbine is rated at hardiness zone 3 in the USA so does not require mulching or protection in the winter.

I love columbines in any color, shape or form and have many, many photographs! I love the irony of the eagle and the dove naming in the description above.  Two of my sons live in the mountains near Vail, CO and I love hiking there in the spring.  The Colorado columbine, Aquilegia caerulea,  is spectacular, especially when blooming in mass across the mountains.  The small Canada or eastern red columbine, Aquilegia Canadensis, is native to West Virginia.  I have many other hybrids of different colors scattered throughout my yard.

Colorado columbine captured
on one of my hikes.


Small white one blooming in the same
area where the Blue Max are seeded.

My good friend, MAM Sprout, shared seeds last year. Some went to the Shirley Meniece Conference Seed Share and some stayed home for our group.  In the late winter, I sowed directly outside in a small shaded, semi moist area lining my front walk.  Her variety is one called 'Blue Max'.  She bought a plant many years ago from Andre Viette; it is no longer listed by them and I cannot find any information on Blue Max so I feel both of us are going a good job in saving this lovely plant. 

Here is Blue Max in MAM Sprouts yard.
 Smaller, deep blue late blooming variety

Small columbine seedlings in center
of photo under a Sargent crabapple.
Astilbe in foreground and bletilla
blooming between the astilbe and
the new columbine.
April - June 2015
The plants started appearing in April.  It is now June 8 and I have a large area under a small crabapple tree with lots and lots of growing plants.  I should probably thin but am just going to let them grow for a while longer before deciding what to do.  I am just so pleased to have them in my garden!

A few tiny sprouts appearing in April.

May 25 and look how
they have grown.

September 30, 2015
The plans have done well this summer.  They survived the August & September dry spells.  I watered only 2-3 times.  Late September rains have helped.  They are strong and healthy.  I look forward to bloom the second year - next spring!  If any of you received seeds at the 2015 Shirley Meniece Conference in Seattle please do post your comments on our blog!

Sept. 30, 2015.  Lots of healthy plants hopefully will bloom next spring.
April 28, 2017
I really haven't updated this post since fall of 2015.  One is blooming in my back yard from seeds I just threw into the yard two years ago.  It is pretty and very happy in a semi-shaded location on my back hillside.  Success and I know there will be more plants next year!

Blue Max blooming Spring 2016.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Asclepias purpurascens or Purple Milkweed

If you remember from our page Marvelous Milkweeds to Help Save our Monarchs posted in March, one of the milkweeds I was really excited about was Asclepias Purpurascens.  Repeated below is the description so that you won't have to flip back and forth between pages in the blog.  This was one seed that I was especially delighted to find a source for ordering as it receives glowing reports, yet is hard to find.

And, from Everwilde we found the Asclepias Purpurascens.  This excerpt from Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens: An Unsung Asclepias  (guest post by Barbara Pintozzi) says it beautifully:
Asclepias purpurascens makes an excellent garden plant, as it is not aggressive like swamp milkweed. It prefers partial sun, but it will grow in full sun or light shade. It will grow in average garden soil and actually does best in clayish soil. It is distributed from Ontario south to Texas and Georgia, but is endangered in Wisconsin and Massachusetts (USDA). It blooms in mid-to-late June in my Zone 5, Chicago-area garden. It reaches 2 to 3 feet in height. Why purple milkweed is so hard to find and isn’t better known is beyond me. This plant should be made more wildly available to gardeners east of the Rockies as a tough, beautiful, reliable workhorse.

Again following the coffee filter method of stratification, the seeds were cold stratified starting in March.  Fast forward to today - June 1.  Life has been a little hectic lately as a new 10 week old golden retriever puppy has entered our household and there is not much time for seed planting.  Plus Ziggy seems to love gardening and wants to help with everything, including replanting what I have just planted.  These seeds will really have to want to succeed!

A note from the back of the Everwilde packets - these seeds can be fall planted - or stratify at 40 degrees F for 2-3 months.  (So, they require a minimum of at least 30 days longer stratification than our other asclepias seeds). They should then be moved to temperatures of at least 70.  And note:  "Some seeds may take 2 seasons to sprout!"

March 14, 2015  Asclepias purpurascens seeds arrived and cold stratified using the coffee filter method described in the propagation workshop linked above.

June 1, 2015  Baggies with seeds are removed from the refrigerator and potted up.  Remember that milkweeds have long taproots and don't transplant easily, so I am using a larger pot (6") and putting about 5-6 seeds per pot.  Again I am using soilless Pro-Mix.  After placing the seeds in the pot, I gave each seed a gentle poke into the soil with my finger and then covered lightly with more mix.   After sprouting, these plants may remain in these pots for the remainder of this growing season.  Today is a cool day with a gentle rain, a great start and a break from a few of last week's hot, humid days that are giving a glimpse of what our summer may be like.

Our other milkweeds from the March workshop that we potted up in April are showing great growth and a really high percentage rate of germination.  Photos, descriptions and updates on the other milkweeds will be posted soon.  Only so much a puppy mom can do in a day.....

Materials together and
all set to pot up.
Small seeds inside the coffee filters
just before planting.

5-6 seeds per pot.  If you
look very closely you may see the
small seeds on the top of the soil.
I made a small circle close to the outside of
the pot with 4-5 seeds and then one in the middle.

Pots are placed in a flat and located
in a sheltered place in my yard.  They will be
moved into one of the other "nursery" areas
when this rain lets up so that they can receive some
natural moisture.  This location is too much under
the eaves and you can see from the wet/dry line in the
 photo that it is going to be dry here.
All future posts will be on our Marvelous Milkweeds page as an ongoing journal.