Saturday, April 4, 2015

Milkweeds are coming.

Each year I try to increase the amount of Milkweeds I grow as they are essential to the Monarchs. As I only grow local eco-types of our regional South Jersey plants, all are done fresh from seed each year. I have grown Asclepias incarnata, (Swamps) Asclepias syriaca (Common) and Asclepias tuberosa, (Butterfly)all quite successfully.

Blunt Leaf Milkweed in Egg Harbor TWP
 In the past I have tried to grow, but was unsuccessful, Asclepias amplexicaulis, ( Blunt Leaf Milkweed), not as common, but not rare. This year, I am happy to report that it did germinate and as of today there are twelve seedlings in the tray and I hope for many more. This plant is growing on my brother's property in Dorothy so it is a local Atlantic County eco-type.  I did sew the Swamps quite heavily and they have germinated and are growing rapidly. I potted up two trays today to have ready for the Earth Day festival at ACUA. I am hoping to have the Common as well, as they sprouted right behind them. The Butterflyweed are coming along a bit more slowly, but they are germinated. I doubt they will be ready for Earth Day, but should be ready by late May. The great thing about Milkweeds is that once potted up, they grow quickly.

If you are looking for Milkweeds, I am planning on bringing extra to the festival this year so I don't run out.  Also I will be giving a talk on Pollinators at 1pm. If you come to my talk I will give you a coupon for a free pack of Common Milkweed seeds with any purchase of 3 or more native plants of any species. I will also be bringing Asters and Seaside Goldenrod which is important food for the Monarchs on migration in the fall.

One thing to remember about Milkweeds and Monarchs is that the leaves are much more important than the flowers. So while the flower provides nectar for all butterflies as well as native bees, the leaves are what the Monarch caterpillars consume. Swamp and Common are the best choices here for the sizable leaves they provide.
Swamp Milkweed provides food for
 Bumble Bees as well as Monarchs

What I love about the Swamps is the beautiful flowers that attract so many pollinators especially Bumble bees. Bumble bees are in trouble as much or more even than honey bees. So in addition to helping Monarchs, you can help the Bumble Bees as well.  I will be talking about that at my presentation. Hope to see you  there.

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