Butterfly weed—why not by Elizabeth Licata

butterfly-milkweed-1Many of you have heard that 2017’s “Perennial Plant of the Year” is Asclepias tuberosa/butterfly weed. It’s not a surprising choice—attention to attracting and supporting pollinators, especially butterflies, especially monarchs, has been peaking for the past few years and shows no sign of declining. A good thing.

Normally, I pay scant attention to “plants of the year” and all the other marketing ploys (trends, predictions, surveys) put forth by the gardening industry. And, no, I will not be using a trademark symbol anywhere in this post.

But. In this case, the announcement happened to coincide with another email I received, this one from a local nature preserve, Reinstein Woods. Reinstein is holding a native plant sale to benefit the organization (a lovely preserve that features educational outdoor programs all year round, even at this time of year) and help spread the word about the benefits of native plants. Included in the sale is just about every type of milkweed, including this one. I suppose most people grow this from seed, but I don’t do well with seeds, so I am ordering several sets of three (swamp, butterfly, white, maybe common).

At this point, my garden is, as they say, what it is. I won’t be redesigning it, so I’ll just make room in a more-or-less sunny bed and hope for the best. Do I think it will thrive? Not really, not if these prerequisites hold: full sun, well-drained soil, good for meadow garden, best planted in large masses. None of that will be possible; the best sun bed—and it isn’t really all day—I have is already well-inhabited by tall Joe Pye, double rudbeckia and other monsters. I’ll have to pull some out to make room for this. But we’ll see. I’m happy to try to please pollinators even more than I’m doing. At this stage, I tend to take plant failure or success with equanimity, so bring on the PPotY. If they all die, at least I helped Reinstein Woods.

Butterfly weed—why not originally appeared on Garden Rant on January 11, 2017.

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