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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.

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

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Saturday - October 18, 2008

From: Boynton Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Watering for Scarlett Milkweed in Florida
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a Scarlett Milkweed and it was doing very well until this last week. It now has yellow leaves that are falling off and no flowers. It says on the tag that the water is low once it is established. It was given to me and at that time it was only 12" tall, now it's almost 3' feet tall. Was wondering what would be the best way to take care of it? Do I water weekly, bi-weekly? Thank you for your assistance!

ANSWER:

Asclepias currassavica, Scarlet Milkweed, is a native of South America but has become a naturalized weed in tropical and subtropical areas all over the world including Central and South Florida. Since it is a non-native to North America, it falls out of the range of expertise of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. We only recommend, and grow in our Gardens, plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown. This is because, being adapted to the conditions, they will require less water, fertilizer and maintenance. And, of course, as in the case of your plant, non-natives can sometimes become invasive and crowd out more desirable native plants.

Although we do not have information on this plant in our Native Plant Database, here is a website from Floridata on Asclepias currassavica that might be a source of the information you need. We suspect that it is approaching the end of its season and starting to drop leaves and cease to flower.  Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly milkweed), which is native to Florida, is listed as deciduous, which means it is dropping its leaves, will die back and return in the Spring. 

 

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