Learn about pollinator plants, the fall monarch migration, how to tag butterflies, and plenty of other information about these winged beauties below. Press the soil down flat with your fingertips to seal the seeds in place. Hours: 10 am – 6 pm This cultivar doesn’t belong in your butterfly garden. Milkweed plants got their name from the milk-like sap that is contained inside this perennial plant. OE is concentrated in non-migratory monarch populations in the Houston area. Cool the seeds for at least 30 days. A. “Milkweed More Than Just a Monarch Host” Great article about other insects that live on milkweeds by Almost Eden, a nursery in Louisiana that sells non-native and native plants and sent by Diane Foss, Texas Park & Wildlife Department and posted on Native Plant Society of Texas – Houston website. Scatter your seeds 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in (0.64 to 1.27 cm) apart on the soil surface. Start by sprinkling your packet of seeds onto three moist paper towels. Should I be concerned about this? Milkweeds (Asclepias) get their name from the sticky white sap that oozes from the leaves when they are damaged. Because most milkweed varieties have different growing conditions, gardeners rarely plant them in the same location. The long-blooming plant features tight flower clusters packed with nectar, and the leaves are filled with a milky substance that caterpillars adore. Thanks for taking the time to post it! You can make this a reality with the simple addition of milkweed to your garden. Before sealing the bag, make sure to remove all air. 713-755-6444. Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle is proud to provide an array of services and educational programs to the constituents of Precinct 4. I like to pour a heaping amount of soil mix onto the center of my seed insert and then spread it evenly with the edge of my seed packet or anything with a straight edge. Kim is an expert on all things milkweed and monarch, even supplying local schools with monarch eggs to raise and release. Buchanan’s Native Plants A: About 35 milkweed species are native to Texas, and about half a dozen grow in the Houston area. This is a great article. Young milkweed plant before flowering. Thanks to our friend Brad Grimm at Grow Milkweed Plants for donating this solitary bee house we are going to raffle off... Posted by The Butterfly Garden at Oleander Acres RV Resort on Thursday, October 25, 2018. It is a good choice for attracting butterflies to your yard, but is not particularly attractive to deer who tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. Using this species in the Houston … Water the seeds gently and evenly, using a watering wand or mister. Distinguishing characteristics: Herbaceous perennials to 3-7 dm The milkweed flower (Asclepias syriaca) and its cousin butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) are an integral part of the butterfly garden, a source of nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds. Place the cell trays into a warm area or greenhouse. It is quite intolerant of urban pollution, therefore inner city or urban streetside plantings are best avoided. A: Milkweed seeds aren’t viable if you harvest them too soon. Houston, Texas 77002 The most prevalent milkweed species at nurseries around Houston is Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). Most milkweed species require moderately acidic soil with optimal PH levels between 4.8 and 6.8. Monarchs and Milkweed Network, Houston Texas area Texas butterfly Ranch. Make sure to label each bag with the name of the species and the date. Full color photos including photos to help you indentify the caterpillars of the butterflies. For monarchs, the healthiest varieties of milkweed include green milkweed (Asclepias viridis), zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), and aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis). What other types of milkweed are good for pollinator gardens? You can sow milkweed seeds by scattering them on the soil surface 1/4-1/2 inch apart, and then cover them with about 1/4 inch of additional soil. Since milkweed seeds can take awhile to germinate, patience is required. Nodding milkweed (Asclepias glaucescens) 13 Habitat: Along stream beds and dry rocky slopes in open pine, juniper, or oak woodland canyons in the Chisos, Davis, and Guadalupe Mountains in the Trans Pecos Ecoregion. The roots are very fragile and will not take well if damaged. The seeds should settle at the bottom of the bag. Plant milkweed — it’s the sole food source for monarch caterpillars and is attractive to many pollinators for its nectar-rich flowers. What is the easiest way to gather the seeds? In spring, your milkweed plants will likely arrive in a dormant state, with no green leaves above the soil line. Step 2: Add soil . With over 140 different types of milkweed, there are milkweeds that grow well in almost every hardiness zone. Any species in the milkweed family will do, but the easiest to grow is the common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Harris County Precinct 4 Q: Can I plant different milkweed varieties together? Water the area … Milkweed has a reputation for being difficult to start from seed. Store the bag in your refrigerator. The flowers are excellent for cutting. To prevent the parasite from spreading, cut back your tropical milkweed before each spring so that fresh growth will be available for the spring migration. You can plant them closer and then thin the plants as they grow in, or, plant Swamp Milkweed and its cultivars between 30” and 36” apart. For now, though, planting from seed is the most viable option. The parasite persists in the Houston area because of our mild winters and long-blooming milkweed varieties, such as tropical milkweed (red and orange colored) and native aquatic milkweed. There is nothing more calming and enjoyable than walking through a garden enlivened by the colorful and silent beauty of a butterfly’s delicate wings fluttering from flower to flower. It is a drought resistant plant, but the A. sullivantii and the A. incarnate species grow best in a saturated soil. Wait until the milkweed pod starts to open before stripping the seeds from the pod. It has no significant negative characteristics. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), is pretty and easy to find, but keep it as an annual or grow it indoors. Can you recommend a variety of milkweed that starts to germinate in early spring. 611 East 11th Street Only seeds should be left in the strainer. Wear gloves. Plus, diversity is best for a healthy garden. A: Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (or OE) is a parasite first discovered more than 20 years ago, but it’s only recently received attention. As the plants can be toxic; consumption of the plant protects caterp… Drop about 2-3 milkweed seeds onto the surface of the soil in each cup. We respect your privacy, and your email address will not be shared. Butterflies in the Houston Arboretum meadow. Some species grow exclusively in specific regions while others will thrive in jus… It is hardy, easy-to-grow and supports Monarchs. 713-861-5702 Milkweed seed can be planted directly in soil, or started indoors. Many have adapted to different regions of the country and a wide range of climates and terrains, from deserts and rocky areas to marshes and open prairies. Its narrow leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the season. Remove and plant immediately if you see mold. To login click, Harris County Precinct 4 Seal container and store in fridge for 30-45 days at 35-45 degrees. Because milkweed plants tend to be clonal (closely related), it is worthwhile to collect seeds from several different areas for better germination rates. Commonly found species of the milkweed plant grow really well in bright sunlight and a properly drained soil. Q: I want to grow Texas native milkweed plants from seed. As my wife, Kathy, tended to her flower garden, a female monarch butterfly breezed past her head and delicately deposited eggs on the leaves of our milkweed plants. Growing milkweed supplies larvae of the Monarch with food and shelter, providing caterpillars food and a resting place before they leave the caterpillar stage and become butterflies. Mix rinsed seeds into vermiculite using your hands, and wear sterile gloves. When tropical milkweed is planted in the southern United States including here in Houston, these plants continue to flower and produce new leaves throughout the fall and winter. If you have lone plants growing around your yard, check them regularly and transfer monarch caterpillars to other milkweed, if necessary. Rinse the seeds and evenly spread them into the sand. This is perfectly normal! How can I grow milkweed from seed? Not only will you benefit from the natural beauty, but by growing milkweed, you will also be helping a very fragile butterfly species. This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and is best cleaned up in early spring before it resumes active growth for the season. For best results, begin the germination process 30 days prior to planting. The sap of milkweed can be harmful to … 713-755-6444 It is not particular as to soil type or pH. Fill a seed starting tray with high quality seed-germinating soil like Jolly Gardener soil, which we use at Mercer. Or, block out a corner of a garden bed to plant the seeds. See Kim’s story. A: Growing tropical milkweed is fine, especially in areas with frost. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition. Plant one cell per 4-inch pot. For more information, check out the resources below: (Information provided by Mercer Greenhouse Manager Jacob Martin, TMS Grower Brandon Hubbard, and Mercer volunteer Don DuBois). Copyright © 1999 - 2020 Buchanan's Native Plants, All Rights Reserved. More than 100 species of this herbaceous perennial are native to the U.S. and Canada. Milkweed pod at right size for eating. Take heart though: once established, milkweed can spread like, well, a weed. Milkweed pods of Asclepias viridis. Each paper towel should receive 8-10 seeds. Plant four to five seeds per tray about ¼- to ½-inch deep and lightly cover with soil. To raise awareness and solutions to the problems facing pollinator species in North America. I’m in zone 5b (southern Ontario) and grow swamp milkweed but it usually doesn’t start to come up until mid/late spring and usually isn’t a decent size until at least early summer. After two to three weeks, the seedlings should be about 2 inches tall and ready to transplant. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. Imagine butterflies happily fluttering around in your garden from flower to flower. 2 talking about this. Dump your sand/seed mixture into a strainer and rinse with water until all the sand has been washed off. Aquatic milkweed, as the name implies, grows in wet bottomland areas along the edges of ponds and creeks. It tends to be leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and should be underplanted with lower-growing perennials. commissionercagle@hcp4.net, © Harris County Precinct 4, All Rights Reserved, You must be logged in before using WishList. After at least 30 days, remove the seed bags from the refrigerator and start preparing your planting trays. Fill a resealable bag half full of sand and add just enough water for the sand to hold its shape. Milkweeds are herbaceous perennials that flower throughout the summer, set seed and then naturally die back in fall, going dormant to sprout anew in spring. This species is native to parts of North America. Houston, Texas 77008 Photo: Julia Robinson / … If it doesn’t freeze, be sure to cut back your milkweed before spring. Then cover your seeds with 1⁄4 in (0.64 cm) more soil. Tropical milkweed is native to the tropics and it is adapted to grow year-round. Milkweed is slender and doesn't need much room to grow so go ahead and plant many seeds! This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. Butterflies of Houston & Southeast Texas by John & Gloria Tveten – this paperback book is an invaluable resource for identifying and learning about butterflies in our area. Swamp Milkweed will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity extending to 4 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 32 inches. If you want some tips on how to put your unit to good use, here are 12 plants to grow in a greenhouse that everyone can manage, with a little bit of care and attention. Receive our weekly newsletter containing the latest specials, up-coming events and seminars. Grow at least 6 plants together so your monarch caterpillars don’t run out of food. Open Every Day – Monday – Sunday. How to Grow Milkweed Plants. The professionals at Mercer use a misting table to water seedlings. (Most local monarchs raised in the summer and fall are non-migratory.). 1001 Preston, Suite 950 Houston's favorite garden center devoted to Texas native plants and organic gardening. It grows at a medium rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years. If you can’t harvest the seeds right away, place a net over the pod to prevent the seeds from blowing away. You can plant milkweed starter plants purchased at specialty nurseries. These are a bit large and would have been better a week or so earlier. Planting Time: Milkweed plants can be planted in spring or fall. It tends to be leggy, with a typical clearance of 1 foot from the ground, and should be underplanted with lower-growing perennials. Green and zizotes milkweed prefer full sun, and aquatic milkweed tolerates some shade. Most often in Houston, we plant members of the Asclepias genus: native A. tuberosa, commonly called butterflyweed, with fiery orange-red blooms; orange and yellow Mexican or tropical milkweed … Native milkweed seed is expensive–as it should be. Tropical milkweed is a large, showy milkweed with lovely yellow and orange flowers. Now that fall monarch migration is in full swing, we’ve compiled a list of your top questions about monarchs and milkweed. Q: I’ve heard something about a parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha and that it infects tropical milkweed. This can cause potential negative effects on monarchs including: At least two-thirds of the population will purchase tomatoes from the supermarket only to … Hello Matt. Q: The most recognizable form of milkweed in Harris County is the tropical or Mexican milkweed, which features yellow or orange flowers. For monarchs, the healthiest varieties of milkweed include green milkweed (Asclepias viridis), zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), and aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis). If you can collect your own seed in the wild, go for it. Grow diversely. The upright stalks growing from the leaf joints are flower stalks. A: About 35 milkweed species are native to Texas, and about half a dozen grow in the Houston area. It is quite adaptable, prefering to grow in average to wet conditions, and will even tolerate some standing water. To make sure you get the best info on how to grow milkweed in your backyard we talked to Kim Bailey, owner of Milkweed Meadows Farm in Fruitland, NC. If there are multiple plants sprouted in one cell, do not try to separate them. It’s no secret that butterflies love milkweed. Free milkweed giveaway in The Woodlands to grow monarch butterfly population. Milkweed plants are common host plants for Monarch butterflies. Texas longterm drought has sparked a broader interest in native plants, so the availability of milkweeds and other “from here” pollinator plants will continue to grow. How To Plant Milkweed Seeds In Fall: Choosing Your Area It's important to carefully choose the spot where you'll plant your milkweed as they will self-seed and spread rather quickly. To strip the fluff from the seeds, place the seeds in a bag with a few coins and shake. Tomatoes. Close-up of milkweed stem and oppositely opposed leaf set. Be careful not to displace the seeds with a hard stream of water. Winter care of milkweed depends on your zone and which milkweed you have. 1001 Preston, Suite 950 Note: Refrigerating seeds is a technique used to simulate the real-world conditions a seed would receive outdoors as winter turns to spring. For example, green milkweed, which grows in low spots along rural roadways, prefers heavy, occasionally muddy soil, and the zizotes milkweed requires well-drained soil. Swamp Milkweed has fuchsia flat-top flowers with rose overtones at the ends of the stems from mid summer to early fall. Milkweed flower buds. Transplant the seedlings into 4-inch pots filled with high quality potting soil. The consistency should be like a sandcastle, not too wet or too dry. Check out this step-by-step guide for growing milkweed in the Gulf Coast area, including zizotes milkweed (Asclepias oenotheroides), aquatic milkweed (Asclepias perennis),  butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), and green milkweed (Asclepias viridis). Growing milkweed. Choose a self-contained area in the garden that isn’t in the middle of an existing garden bed. Keep the cell trays evenly moist until germination occurs, which should take about four to seven days. After about one to two months, the seedlings will be ready to plant in the ground. 5. How To Grow Milkweed From Seed. Swamp Milkweed is an herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Houston, Texas 77002 2 of 3 Barbara Keller-Willy encourages gardeners to plant Texas' native milkweed, which is better for butterflies than the tropical milkweed sold in most nurseries. (A 72-count cell tray is recommended.). Adult monarchs seek the plant for its nectar and lay their eggs exclusively on the plant during the warmer months. Want to grow your own milkweed? But more importantly, monarch butterflies cannot live without it. Q: I want to grow Texas native milkweed plants from seed. 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