IN THE GARDEN with DOUG - SAVING THE FLUTTER OF THE ORANGE & BLACK MONARCH BUTTERFLY
April is a magical month when it comes to flowering annuals and perennials. It is now mid-April and we had some cold nights this past weekend. However, looking at our extended forecast for the rest of April we seem to be free from any threat of frost - HURRAH!!! Let the planting begin!!!!!!! In addition, our soil temperature is rising. As of April 13, our soil temperature is now in the low 60’s.
As we get energized to plant, let’s leave some room to plant the Asclepias tuberosa
. Why not celebrate an excellent plant known for its ability to support insects and birds and serve as the primary caterpillar food for our Monarch butterfly? The more we plant the more we will feel a sense of satisfaction in doing our part in helping to stop the dwindling population of Monarch butterflies. By far, the butterfly weed is their favorite plant.
In helping to bring more awareness to the value of Aslcepias tuberosa
, the Perennial Plant Association has made Asclepias tuberosa
its 2017 PERENNIAL PLANT OF THE MONTH
. As home gardeners, we need to plant lots of butterfly-friendly flowering plants, such as the butterfly weed.
Here are some helpful growing information for the Asclepias tuberosa.
- Butterfly weed is very hardy for our region. It grows well in USDA Zones 4 to 9 (we are in Zone 7).
- Butterfly weed needs to be planted in full sun – at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
- Avoid using pesticides and herbicides around milkweed.
- Grows best in well-drained soils and it is drought tolerant.
- After the Monarch butterfly eggs are hatched, the larvae will begin eating the leaves of the butterfly weed. This is what we want to happen. Don’t be alarmed that your plant is defoliated. It will recover.
- Deadhead milkweed flowers to prolong blooming during summer. Again, keep in mind that the flowers are a nectar source for our beloved butterflies and the leaves are a food source.
- Butterfly weed is subject to no serious insect or disease problems. Deer usually avoid butterfly weed.
I challenge all of us to plant lots of butterfly weed this year. Plants should be available in the next week or two.
HAPPY ARPIL AND HAPPY GARDENING!!!!!
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