Milkweed Spreading Through My Landscape Makes Me Happy by Evelyn Hadden

Two years ago, I wrote about the milkweed seedlings I rescued from a nearby lawn. They survived the move and have formed a decent-sized stand under a maple tree in my backyard. In this tough site (very dry part shade) they need no care whatsoever, and have been given none after watering them for a few weeks that first year to help them settle in. My kind of garden plant!

MilkweedUpdate - 4

Here’s the milkweed I rescued from a lawn, two years later.

In my front yard is an older patch of milkweed through which I dug a rain garden this spring. This patch was growing in a 4-foot-wide section along the front of the house that had been gravel-and-landscape-fabricked (I just made up that word). Digging into a bare swath of gravel next to a healthy cluster of milkweed stems, I removed an intact section of fabric and unearthed strand after strand of thick white lateral runners beneath, with tiny nubs on them that were prepared to push up through the soil and form flowering stems.

These roots with nubs make great transplants. Even when the stems have emerged and sport a couple of pairs of leaves, they will easily settle into a new home. So I suddenly found myself with a heap of great gifts for my pollinator-loving gardener friends. That was fun.

MilkweedUpdate - 2

My new front rain garden (mulched with wood chips) cut through a patch of milkweed.

Meanwhile, in the courtyard between my house and garage, a garden center milkweed that I planted a couple of years ago thrives in the area I call The Seep. It’s a bed of compacted clay subsoil that stays fairly damp against the north side of the garage. After digging up that front rain garden, I can better imagine the milkweed runners that must be crisscrossing this bed under the surface, aerating it as they grow.

MilkweedUpdate - 5

Milkweed is an excellent mingler. See the original cluster at the top left? Underground runners have spread through this bed, and new stems are popping up in the bare places.

My one-acre landscape now has several thriving colonies of milkweed of different origins, so I am fairly confident there will be a robust milkweed population living here well into the future.

Come visit, monarchs!

MilkweedUpdate - 3

Larger view of the front yard with the rain garden running along the front of the house, and a healthy stand of milkweed under the near window.

Milkweed Spreading Through My Landscape Makes Me Happy originally appeared on Garden Rant on May 18, 2016.


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