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Old 07-31-2013, 11:20 AM   #1
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Flowersred Will butterfly milkweed come back next year?

I bought two butterfly milkweeds early this summer and only one has survived. It hasn't grown very tall but it looks like it will flower soon. Will a single specimen produce seeds? Will it come back next year? It'd be great if it made seeds and scattered them about the area it's in and that became a patch... Any chance of that happening or am I only dreaming?
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Old 07-31-2013, 12:43 PM   #2
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I'm guessing that "butterfly milkweed" is the orange "butterfly weed" (Asclepias tuberosa)...it is perennial so it should come back year after year. I will warn you though that it comes up VERY LATE in the spring, so it is good to mark the spot so you know not to dig up that spot to put something else in. I mark mine by rocks usually.

I am not sure about whether or not one plant can pollinate itself...but maybe someone else can answer that for you.

As for growing them from seed, I have done that from seeds collected from my few plants...I plant them in the fall or winter in pots of potting soil and let them freeze and thaw so that they are ready to germinate in the spring. (I've yet to notice any coming up on their own in the yard. I'm sure I scattered a few to see what would happen.) Of those that I sowed, I can't remember how many germinated, but I know there are at least two that came up where I planted the seedlings. I wish I could say I've had better luck, maybe next year I'll be surprised to see more blooming that I may have overlooked this year.
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Last edited by dapjwy; 07-31-2013 at 12:48 PM. Reason: clarifying
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:33 PM   #3
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Oh yes, it is butterfly weed. Thanks for the tip on marking its spot, will do. I guess I'll just wait and see if any seed pods form, if it really does flower.
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Old 07-31-2013, 01:55 PM   #4
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Didn't amelanchier have threads here about milkweed?
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Old 07-31-2013, 03:00 PM   #5
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The orange butterfly weed should return but it usually only persists for a few years unless I make sure there are a few new seedlings each year. There may be other plants in the area and every butterflyweed plant has lots of little flowers on what looks like one bloomhead so that it will be pollinated and set seed. If you want to ensure genetic diversity finding another plant or two would be a good idea at some point though.
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Old 07-31-2013, 04:21 PM   #6
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Thanks, Gloria.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
The orange butterfly weed should return but it usually only persists for a few years unless I make sure there are a few new seedlings each year.
I've had mine out in the field for at least 4 years, I think...and so far they are going strong. I certainly hope they don't fizzle out any time soon...as I want more and more, not just a few replacements. I guess time will tell.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gloria View Post
If you want to ensure genetic diversity finding another plant or two would be a good idea at some point though.
Good point.

I should've mentioned that myself, as I am always trying to make sure I gather seeds from as many different individuals as I can.
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Old 08-01-2013, 04:04 AM   #7
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I mark the butterfly weed in my garden by growing the earlier blooming moss phlox subulata next to and actually covering the dormant asclepias tuberosa. By the time the phlox has finished blooming and I trim the leaves back so it doesn't get too woody I just have to wait a few weeks and magically one day the butterfly weed leaves appear.
I have been collecting and planting the seeds near the existing plants for a few years now with limited success. They like to plant themselves in cracks and crevices among rocks or in the spaces between pavement more then they like where I put them.
That will give you an idea of the dry rocky areas they prefer.
I have a really nice but smaller self sown plant this year in the street side pathway that I protected from being trod on by adding potted plants around it.
They also do well planted with little bluestem but both of them appear late in the season.
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Old 08-01-2013, 05:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I just have to wait a few weeks and magically one day the butterfly weed leaves appear.
Normally, I'm out looking for it, but this year, I guess I was busy with other things, and one day I just saw it there, green shoots about a foot high already!
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Old 08-01-2013, 07:59 PM   #9
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Here it does very well, I have several patches with about 30 or so plants. Problem is the Queens come in early, coupled with the milkweed bugs, and any early Monarchs, by the time Migration comes in milkweed is short. I have to stock up in September.
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Old 08-05-2013, 10:16 PM   #10
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Actually, if you only have 1 Asclepias tuberosa plant, you will not get pollination unless you have pollinators bringing in pollen from another plant located elsewhere. A. tuberosa is what is called "self-incompatible," meaning that a single plant will not pollinate itself. I think the only Asclepias species that will self pollinate is A. incarnata (swamp milkweed). A. tuberosa should be cold hardy enough for your area. Maybe you could get some more seeds so you can have a few more plants, then get some seed pods going in the future.
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