"When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant."
Below is a little refresher video on the importance of milkweed in the garden, and a good intro for those new to the blog and butterfly gardening. The hostess is particularly amusing as she expounds on the generous, anthropomorphic male attributes of one particular milkweed plant species, Asclepias physocarpa, wrongly referred to in the video as Asclepias fruticosa, a closely related species:
A. fruticosa vs. A. physocarpa. For all intents and purposes, both are admiral candidates for a butterfly garden.
(Also amusingly known as Family Jewels Plant.)
Asclepias physocarpa; syn = Gomphocarpus physocarpus
Flowers of A. physocarpa
The illustration records the adventures of the Midwestern and Eastern race of Monarchs. Our Western race overwinters along the California coast vs. Central Mexico where Midwestern and Eastern Monarchs overwinter.
There is some confusion as to the taxonomy of this particular species, and is at times confused with A. physocarpa. I know it as A.physocarpa rather than A. fruticosa, and believe that the video is using the wrong nomenclature for the illustrated plant.
The Container Butterfly Garden is home to three rather large A.physocarpa that have been excellent host plant additions here. Monarch caterpillars seem to love it. I find this plant to be as popular a host as is A. curassivica. It's easy to grow, produces prodigious amounts of caterpillar food, and the seed pods are curious-looking enough to be a show stopper.
Easy to grow from seed. There are several volunteer seedlings that have popped up in the garden that I will share with anyone if they survive and want to try one. If you wish to try sprouting some seeds of your own, Joyful Butterfly sells packets of seeds for a reasonable cost. As with A. curassivca, A. physocarpa should be pruned way back in the early winter to minimize Oe spores and urge lingering Monarchs to begin their yearly migration.
Here is a graphical illustration of the Monarch annual migration cycle from a onearth.org article entitled: Wind Beneath Their Wings. Graciously brought to my attention by Karen Schwager of Laguna Beach, California.
On the continuing saga of Tropical Milkweed and Oe spores:
Is Tropical Milkweed Killing Monarch Butterflies?
You be the judge. Personally, I see no reason to castigate A. curassavica for its association of harboring Oe spores more so than native species, and may be causing SoCal, south Texas, and southern Florida races of Monarchs to overwinter in their spring and summer stomping grounds without migrating to traditional Monarch overwintering sites, if these faults are mitigated by following the advice of the article above.
Two opposing views on planting Tropical Milkweed. One is by discovermagazine.com, the other by onearth.org:
Gardeners' Good Intentions Are Killing Monarch Butterflies
Don't Stop Planting Milkweed