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A Snow on the Mountain Perennial

A Snow on the Mountain Perennial

Snow on the Mountain Perennial

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Most Asclepias species are late to wake up in the spring, and will often be shipped as dormant plants. These perennial species stay dormant later in the spring than many other plants, especially when they are grown in pots. Don't despair if your milkweed is asleep. The white roots and woody crown are alive just waiting for consistently warm weather to wake up and begin to grow. It's fine to plant dormant plants; don't up-pot them for planting later in the growing season. Neil Diboll, founder of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin, and a pioneer of prairie restoration says this about seeding Asclepias: "Seeds of all the members of the genus Asclepias that I have worked with benefit from a 30-day Moist Stratification period to break seed dormancy. The seeds germinate best under warm soil conditions. They can be successfully seeded in fall as a “dormant seeding” to improve germination in spring. Fall planting after frost will provide necessary cold stratification. In just one generation, the mountain pygmy-prairie dog has lost most of its habitat to mountain parks. So how are mountain ocelots surviving?

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Lauren Springer Ogden, renowned author, gardener, and landscape designer recommends that Orange Butterfly Weed be transplanted before the heat of summer (April-May) or in the fall. She has observed that the combination of wet roots and hot daytime temperatures favor root rot from soil pathogens. She also points out that this species is "highly soil-specific depending on the strain you grow". Lauren also relates that the plants are susceptible to pill bugs. "They will chew where the root meets the crown. And they love warm moist conditions". Another reason to not wait to plant in the heat of summer and not to mulch. This plant is happiest growing in bare, uncovered ground. Orange Butterfly Weed is also sensitive to growing in damp soil, especially after transplanting. Yellow, chlorotic foliage is usually an indication of over-watering. I recommend that new transplants be watered thoroughly after the initial planting. After the initial watering, wait until the plant begins to wilt slightly before watering thoroughly again. Once you see new growth, a good soaking every 5 to 10 days will be sufficient. Once established, which happens in a few months, the plants may not need much additional water unless conditions are hot and dry. For those of us with drip systems, be sure to place the emitter off to the side of the planting hole so the roots won't sit in overly wet soil.

The butterfly’s dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops in the Midwest, where most monarchs are born. The vast majority of genetically engineered crop acres are in varieties made to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar’s only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in Midwest corn and soybean fields. In the past 20 years it is estimated that these once-common, iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds. For the ornamental garden, Orange Butterfly Weed, Swamp Milkweed and Sullivan's Milkweed are considered the best varieties. Showy Milkweed and Common Milkweed are aggressively stoloniferous (spreading by underground roots) and are best planted in peripheral areas of the landscape such as along drainage ditches and unused portions of your property where their weediness won't be a problem. (Source: www.highcountrygardens.com)

 

 

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