Armchair botanizing for Extreme Milkweeds (Asclepias)

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Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

I've wanted to grow some of these more choice asclepias for years without too much success. But after a few years wait I have at last got flowers on A. vestita and the combination of woolly foliage and those extraordinary pink and yellowish flowers is amazing! I shall now definitely persevere with some of the smaller species - I have viridis and asperula on a raised bed, and will do a little more armchair botanising to follow Mark's example and learn more of these plants.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I am jealous, Tim! The only "Asclepias" I grow is a weed, it isn't even a real milkweed (Vincetoxicum rossicum) - and the slugs don't like it either :-\

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Way cool extreme milkweed there Tim! Congratulations.  I really want to grow some of these.  Let us know if the flowers are fragrant, so many Asclepias species are richly perfumed.

Next weekend I'll be vacationing for my 32nd wedding anniversary at a B&B (Bed & Breakfast) in central Vermont, and last time I was there many years ago, there alongside a river's edge were lots of A. virticllata in fine bloom, a smallish elegant species with refined linear foliage like that of Amsonia hubrectii or A. lettermanii and crisp white flowers, to see it is to want it. I will have to remember to pack a trowel  ;)

http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/cgi/img_query?query_src=photos_index&where...
http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=30910
http://www.wildflower.org/gallery/result.php?id_image=31487
...look at this seed catalog page, and the awesome upright pods in the last image (click the "Images" tab)
http://www.prairiemoon.com/seeds/wildflowers-forbs/asclepias-verticillat...

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Tim, does the wool mean it is not a moisture lover? ???

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

That is a delicate beauty Mark, and makes me want to try these plants even more. And yes, A.vestita is nicely scented up close - I hadn't noticed until your comment. My wife is a good artist and these would make beautiful subjects.

Trond - I've seen a Vincetoxicum species at Wisley in the autumn with superb autumn colour. I can imagine the slugs would leave these plants alone with their milky sap.

Rick - we are growing it in relatively dry sandy soil in a south facing border next to the greenhouse. I've assumed it is not a moisture lover (compared to some of the more vigorous species that are), but we also grow speciosa, again very woolly foliage, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that this does prefer more moisture? I do need to learn more about them in the wild and presumably verticillata, for example, does grow in damper soil?

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

All beauties, Mark and tim- I don't think I've seen a milkweed I didn't like :) Alplains has quite a few dryland forms available, I've yet to try, but they are on my 'list' as are some more woodland/edge types Kristl sells.. remains to be seen whether my moist or drier areas will be more effective..
None of the native ones make it to my area that I've seen..

happy anniversary, Mark!

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks Cohan.

Regarding milkweeds (Asclepias) one has to be careful with some species, such as Asclepias syriaca found through much of North America except the Western States and Canadian Provinces, a plant that is considered weedy or invasive.  Some species can spread by long underground rhizome, and to eradicate the plant, it requires pulling the incessant sprouting shoots at first sign, for a good number of years until the rhizomes give up. 

Asclepias syriacus is abundant here; I like having the plant at the fringes of the yard for the attractive flower globes, intricate florets, and incredibly sweet fragrance, but NEVER EVER let a seedling take hold in the garden, as it will take years of constant pulling of shoots to weaken the perennating rhizomes.  I doubt there is need of similar caution on the many choice Western American dryland species.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

I presume syriaca is the species I saw regularly as a 'wild' plant in downtown Toronto, it was a great fave of mine, and I wouldn't even mind having to pull out excess plants :)
A speciosa and ovalifolia both occur in Alberta, though just outside my area, but not by that much... A viridiflora is only reported in the extreme south of the province...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

In Minnesota, this photo shows the thickest stand of Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) I've seen in the true wild.  But where humans have disturbed the environment, it can grow very thickly.  That would include roadsides.  I also have seen it grow rather exclusively in the U of Wisconsin arboretum prairie, which is mostly man made, but I think something like 40 years invested in the restoration.  I am not sure what the deal is there.  It could very well be that the species is adapted to other climates better than in Minnesota.

   

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Tim Ingram
Title: Member
Joined: 2011-04-27

Sadly I planted syraica about about 20 years before Mark's advice! It does spread but our dry climate probably keeps it reasonably under control - in a wilder setting like Rick shows it is very nice to see. I've tried to establish tuberosa several times thinking it would be well suited to our climate, but plants always die out after a few years. There are some good colour variants of this in horticulture though, and maybe more adaptable plants might arise in time - unusually vivid for an asclepias.

Dr. Timothy John Ingram
Faversham, Kent, UK
I garden in a relatively hot and dry region (for the UK!), with an annual rainfall of around 25", winter lows of -10°C and summer highs of 30°C.
 

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