Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

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Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

Postby buffalowings » Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:34 am

All the milkweed I had growing in pots did not make it through the tough winter. They provided food but it was also nice to pass along a plant to a new monarch raiser in addition to a caterpillar. The plants overwintered 2 winters just fine outside. Propagating common milkweed was an interesting trial and error process. The easiest way to grow in containers turned out to be transplanting a length of the root. Much easier than growing from seed. In efforts to transplant the whole plant, the vegetation tended to wilt and die back almost immediately. It takes a year for the length of root to produce a plant. I used clay pots (don't crack in zone 5 winters) and nursery store leftover black plastic. But, will now bring all pots to the garage or another sheltered spot for the winter. It is interesting that all of the hosta in pots did fine but none of the potted milkweed survived.
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Re: Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

Postby blazing star » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:00 am

Can you educate as to why you grow in containers, i.e. is there a benefit to this over growing in the ground or do you do it just for space and aesthetics?
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Re: Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

Postby buffalowings » Fri Jul 25, 2014 11:09 am

Thanks to the Monarch Watch Forum and other similar websites, we have the opportunity to share techniques and practices largely borne out of trial and error. The education pages are invaluable for keeping all us abreast with the newest research such as the benefits of using native milkweed and drawbacks of using non-native varieties (particularly tropical). I will defer to the actual researchers on milkweed education. Articles on the interplay between tropical milkweed and migratory habits are fascinating. The harsh winter of the past year and large loss of habitation have created a monarch tailspin. Most of us are adapting and changing our established practices. As I mentioned in the original post, new monarch rearers in our inner-ring suburban neighborhood often like to take a container grown common milkweed home with their cat. They can chose whether to keep the plant as a container grown or transplant to the yard, if they have one. Common milkweed has a wonderful bloom but unfortunately is very aggressive. For my own yard, I grow it along a fence in a contained area. I did like having the pots for backup food. My cats hatch, grow, emerge and prepare for flight on my screened in porch. Every once in awhile a monarch is unable to fly due to a damaged wing. I have had a couple live their life span on the porch hanging out on the plant and feasting on watermelon below. I will give a plug here for milkweed as a desirable plant for anyone to grow. It would be great if even non-rearers would consider growing native milkweed. The bloom on the common provides a fabulous aroma. It requires next to no care and may even draw in some monarchs to the yard or patio. It will take over a flower bed so for many gardeners without the luxury of a dedicated bed, container growing is the best option. Up until this winter the plants over-wintered just fine in the pots outside in zone 5. Now I would recommend over-wintering with some protection.
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Re: Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

Postby blazing star » Wed Jul 30, 2014 3:08 pm

Thank you for the information. I'll keep container growing in mind but I'm ok with how weedy milkweed is. I just pull it from areas it shouldn't be growing or cut it to the ground in Spring after using the leaves for food. I killed a large chunk of my lawn and have a large garden area, though. This definitely would be useful for someone with small spaces.
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Re: Propagating and growing milkweed in containers

Postby stacey16 » Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:32 pm

I wish more people would grow milkweed in their yard or garden. Our local garden center sells swamp and common milkweed in the native plant section. The flowers attract monarchs as well as other butterflies.
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