There is something about sitting in the backyard once the weather officially has transitioned to warmer Summer temperatures. Sinking your toes into the grass, feeling the sunshine warm your skin, and being surrounded by flowering and fresh-leafed trees against an endless blue sky backdrop. But its the budding and blooming garden beds that fill our hearts with magic. The satisfaction of sinking our hands into the earth and planting something that brings not only beauty to our yards but visits from sweet butterflies.
This week we’re talking about beautiful North American wildflower -Milkweed. This native herbaceous perennial is a self-sufficient and delightful addition to any garden bed.
Milkweed is where monarch butterflies like to do their “nesting”- as this is where they deposit their eggs, where the caterpillars’ hatch, and find their source of food. Meaning Milkweed is used by butterflies in all stages of their lifecycle. So won’t you consider planting a patch or two in your landscape to play a part in their continued existence?
Milkweed is recognized in the garden by its thin vertical growth habit and long, oblong leaves that are light green and grow to about eight inches in length. The steams and leaves contain a milky sap and in late spring to mid-summer fragrant pink-purple flowers appear in clusters. The flowers then produce seed pods 2-4″ long that split to cast more seeds in the wind.
If you are planting milkweed to encourage monarchs, it is best to create a small patch of milkweed that includes numerous plants. Consider including a nearby water source for your butterflies like a birdbath. Planting other pollinator-friendly plants will also encourage visitors!
- Height: 2-4′
- Light: Full sun
- Soil: Any well-drained soil, tolerates clay soil, and poor dry conditions.
- Water: Not required except in the driest of conditions. During droughts keep the flowers blooming with weekly watering.
- Fertilizer: No feeding is required
- Plant Time: Plant in early spring after the danger of frost has passed, or from seed is in late fall.
- Bloom Time: June to August
- Maintenance: Trying to contain them as they spread quickly. You can remove seed pods before they open to prevent this. Milkweed plants survive the Winter by going dormant. In the Fall, add 3-4″ deep layer of mulch to help insulate the soil. In the Spring, pull back the mulch to give space to the new growth.