Friday, April 7, 2017

Common milkweed

At an interesting panel discussion at the end of a workshop sponsored by Bee City USA for their regional affiliates, I participated in a discussion about planting for pollinators.

One of the most interesting threads, for me, was around common milkweed.  How do we incorporate this in our gardens, community spaces, and roadsides?

I shared my experience (summarized by my blog posts over the years: http://naturalgardening.blogspot.com/search?q=Common+milkweed;  it's a wonderful host plant for monarchs, of course, but challenging in a home garden setting.  After a summer or two away, without editing, it pretty much took over.

But I've seen it used in small median/sidewalk plantings where it looked fine, although perhaps they were just young plants (they're quite nice-looking when diminutive).

But I have a hard time (as an experienced native plant gardener) encouraging folks to plant it, in a normal space.  I'm afraid to plant it anywhere in my mountain garden!  Perhaps I'll try Swamp Milkweed in the pocket meadow this year, and see if we might encourage planting Common Milkweed along one of the green ways nearby (it would be better than the poison hemlock and other weedy things along the upper slope there now).

Swamp milkweed 
So I'm thinking (and searching) for ways to include small-scale patches in home landscapes. A fellow panelist cuts hers back to encourage caterpillar-friendly growth. It's relatively easy to pull up shoots; our meadow became overcome over we started spending summers in the mountains, with less time to edit, etc.

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