|From In the Garden|
The first monarch of the season!! It arrived Friday, 9 July 2010. And isn't it only fitting I should find it on the butterfly weed? Not just any butterfly weed, but the easy Mexican butterfly weed, aka Asclepias curassavica. I had purchased six plants of 'Butterfly Weed' from Lowes late last fall. I paid a mere $1 per one gallon plant so I could not pass up such a good deal on butterfly weed. I thought the 'butterfly weed' was our native butterfly weed, aka Asclepias tuberosa but it is not. I do already grow Asclepias tuberosa but it does not spread around much and is very slow to get established. Not so with the new Mexican butterfly weed. Within weeks of planting these pots in October I had six beautiful tall and in full bloom orange and yellow butterfly weed plants blooming. Just look at November's Bloom Day if you'd like to see this new butterfly weed in full bloom. I was thrilled! I was also a bit confused, let me explain.
I had no idea there was such a thing as Mexican butterfly weed when this spring I was reading one of the many gardening publications I read, and I came across a mention of Mexican butterfly weed. Huh? It got me to thinking that perhaps my butterfly weed might be Mexican butterfly weed instead of our native butterfly weed like I had assumed. I suspected something was wrong with my butterfly weed due to a few reasons. Let me explain.
I was confused because first of all our native butterfly weed does not normally bloom in October and in my experience its bloom period is rather short, not so with the Mexican butterfly weed. Additionally, it is most difficult to buy our native butterfly weed in large pots due to the tuberous root that makes it difficult to transplant the tuberous butterfly weed. Hmmmm. One last clue that made me think I had a different kind of butterfly weed was the fact that none of the original six plants returned for me this year. My two native butterfly weed plants return without fail each year, even though they are always late to emerge I know where they are and patiently await their greenery popping up from the ground. I was quite sad these new butterfly weed plants did not return and was not happy at all. Neither were my friends who had also purchased these butterfly weeds on my recommendation. But, life goes on and sometimes these things happen in the garden. I didn't give it another thought and chocked up the loss to late planting.
By mid June or so I began noticing seedlings in the vicinity of the original six plants-lots of seedlings. I would estimate that where there were six butterfly weed last fall I now have about three dozen of these little lovelies. I knew they were not weeds as they were not the typical looking weed and I amazingly did not pull them out. I let them grow knowing that once they bloomed I'd know exactly what they were. Enter the reference to Mexican butterfly weed and there you have it! There are all sorts of strings on the forums about this butterfly weed. It is true it seeds itself around, it is true the aphids love it (probably because the foliage is most succulent with very little to no care), and, as I've only recently found out-it is a real butterfly attractant! I've never had monarch females lay eggs on my native milkweed, though the swallowtails sometimes eat it-but I am hoping this monarch or more that are sure to come will stick around and gift my garden with some baby monarchs. I am SO excited! Can you tell?
I really like this butterfly weed and actually much prefer it to the native butterfly weed. My little colony is growing in part shade (like all my plants) and poor soil that is located under some oak trees. These seedlings get no help from me yet they look good! And, the monarchs like them. I hope the Mexican butterfly weed does spread around some more but if it gets out of control I will simply hand pull them as that is not difficult....
in the garden....enjoying the butterflies and hoping for some small cats soon.
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,
In the Garden