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Mr. Smarty Plants - Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa

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Monday - June 18, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Propagation, Transplants, Drought Tolerant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Propagation of Asclepias tuberosa
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Re: Asclepias tuberosa, "butterfly weed" bush -- I have a bed in a mix of Shoal Creek well-drained caliche, soil, and some enrichment of mulch that gets almost full sun and low water. After 4 yrs and 5 plants, I still can't get butterfly weed established there, although this bed well grows blackfoot daisy, pink skullcap, fall asters, and deep blue plumbago, most of it intermingled and all very happy. Still, I want to make butterflies happy: what do I need to do? Thanks!

ANSWER:

Although Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is drought resistant when established, it may initially require a bit more moisture than the other species you have growing if you are transplanting in a plant from the nursery.  The tuber is very sensitive to damage, so you must be especially careful to treat it tenderly and make certain that the deep planting hole has good loose soil that is well draining.  Be sure not to mulch it too high around the stem, since root and stem rot are common in Butterflyweed.  Even under the best of conditions, Butterflyweed is a slow starter, and it may take a year or so before it makes a good showing.  But it is well worth the wait.

Butterflyweed is fairly easily propagated from seed.  Check out this web site for tips on planting.

Aphids can be a problem as the plants grow.  They can best be removed with a strong blast from the hose.  A more serious potential problem is milkweed bugs.  I just try to pick them off by hand.  That will prevent harm to Monarch butterfly larvae, which  may also appear. You may just have to share your plants with them.  

 

 

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