En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - August 31, 2006

From: Rye, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Transplants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Problems in germination of Asclepias tuberosa in New York
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

I am a member of the Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College and I need information on Acleptis tuberosa. I am in USDA zone 6. Last year I planted fresh seeds purchased from Johnny's Seeds. The plants grew well, and went in my garden when about 2 1/2 " high. This spring not one plant came back. I have just germinated new seeds and request suggestions on caring for the seedlings which have germinated. I was planning on potting up soon, and planting in a sunny spot in mid september. Can you please guide me? Thank you.

ANSWER:

Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa is native to the eastern 2/3 of North America and its range extends well north of you into eastern Canada. While cold-hardiness is not normally an issue with this plant, the winter could have played a part in your plants' demise. If they were not well enough established when winter arrived, they could have been killed outright from that. Likewise, if they were in a spot where they were particularly well-protected through the fall and continued to make tender vegetative growth until the first freeze, they could also have died in that way.

Slugs can be an issue for young plants. If you otherwise have problems with slugs in your garden, that might be the cause.

The most likely cause is a fungal root or stem rot which attacked all of your plants. Newly transplanted plants are particularly susceptible to rot disease as there is often a lot of injury to the roots which are places for the disease pathogen to get into the plants. Also, new transplants are just weaker and more susceptible to fungal attack.

It is best to start Butterfly Weed early in the growing season and pinch any flower buds during the first year to encourage as much vegetative growth as possible. Since you have seedlings coming along now, if you have a way to hold them until spring in a protected area, do so. Otherwise, try to get as much growth as you can in the garden now, harden them as much as possible during late fall and mulch them before the first hard freeze. Watch for slugs or other causes of problems the following spring.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Need help for diseased Cherry Laurel tree in Houston
October 19, 2015 - A couple of weeks ago the leaves on my decade old cherry laurel began to turn brown. Now they are entirely brown. I have not changed the way in which I cared for it, but about three days ago I noticed...
view the full question and answer

Freeze damage to non-native Philodendron selloeum in Deltona FL
June 22, 2010 - My philodendrons selloeum died this past winter in the freeze,came back slowly this spring and now are suffering with very small deformed leaves. Some do grow but are getting large brown dry areas on ...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Spots on non-native naval orange trees from Stockton CA
October 20, 2012 - I have two mature Navel Orange trees. One tree has developed spotty chlorophyl depleted areas that were not on the oranges when they were smaller. In addition, the oranges on both trees are smaller ,...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center