Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 31, 2013

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens, Propagation, Seeds and Seeding, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Winter care of Asclepias tuberosa from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have several asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed). Monarch caterpillars have found and denuded them. We are excited about all of the Monarch caterpillars, but unsure of what to do next. What do we do with the bare stems? Should they be cut back, should we wait until spring? Will the bare stems grow new leaves?

ANSWER:

We would not worry about the bare stems of the Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed). If you follow that plant link to our webpage on the plant you will learn that it dies back to the ground in the Fall. It sounds to us like it is doing its proper job at the proper time. Reading this paragraph on propagation from that webpage should reassure you:

"Propagation

Propagation Material: Root Cuttings , Seeds
Description: The easiest method of propagation is root cuttings. In the fall, cut the taproot into 2-inch sections and plant each section vertically, keeping the area moist.
Seed Collection: Watch plants closely for seedpods in late summer/early fall. Allow seeds to completely mature before collecting seed to establish new plants in another location. A long pod is produced containing hundreds of seeds with tufts of long, silky hairs (an adaptation for wind dispersal).
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Needs to be transplanted carefully and requires good drainage. It takes 2 – 3 years before A. tuberosa produces its vibrant flowers, which appear in 2 – 3 inch clusters of orangish-red. Once established, it lasts for years, becoming thicker each year."

This plant is a perennial, so it will be back next year in greater numbers,  but you can improve those numbers by following the instructions for root cuttings, and Fall is the precise time to do so. From our Image Gallery, the first picture below is of the mature plant, in bloom. The second shows the seeds and the third, the seed pods.

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

More Seeds and Seeding Questions

Corn gluten on Habiturf from Austin
January 25, 2014 - I live in Central Austin. This past Spring 2013) I replaced my San Augustine lawn with Habiturf. My question concerns corn gluten. It is usually applied in late Jan - mid Feb. Would using corn glu...
view the full question and answer

Grow bluebonnets in Virginia
September 04, 2007 - I want to ATTEMPT to grow some Texas Bluebonnets in VA because I am homesick and both our kids are back in Austin. That said, the site says " it may be necessary to inoculate the soil with a rhizobiu...
view the full question and answer

Care for non-native Centipede grass
February 27, 2013 - My lawn is Centipede. I have created a new lawn area. Can and when should I seed/overseed my lawn? I have Rye in the new area.
view the full question and answer

Revegetation of school site with meadow plants from Austin
December 23, 2013 - We are revegetating a hill country school site (typical calciferous soil stripped of vegetation & minimal topsoil) with a native seed mix equal to Native American Seed "Meadow Mix". We have an abund...
view the full question and answer

When to reseed wildflowers in a drought year?
October 18, 2011 - My acreage with extensive wildflowers was mowed in 2010 before annuals had seeded. Only a few returned this year. Considering the predicted lonterm drought should I postpone reseeding this fall?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.