Saturday, August 2, 2008
Milkweed in the Garden
Like most people, for years I thought of milkweed as just that -- a weed. It wasn't until I became a little more educated on plants, bugs, and butterflies and how they all work together as a team that I come to the realization that many "weeds" can be perfect garden plants. The milkweed a good example -- a monarch butterfly can't live without milkweed, so why not grow it? Its certainly easy enough to grow -- why not in the garden? One thing you need for it is space. There are some varieties that stay semi-compact such as the popular orange butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) which stays between 1.5 and 2 feet tall in a fairly nice mound. Then there's the classic common milkweed which is the familiar site along most roadways. There are actually over 100 varieties of milkweeds, each with varied growing habits - some getting as tall as 6 feet (in the picture above near my front door!) with colorful flowers in orange, yellow, pink, or white. The scent of the flowers are incredible too attracting bees and nectar loving creatures to your garden. Its also an interesting plant to get kids involved in gardening and nature. This cool Wisconsin state website called EEK (Environmental Education for Kids) provides facts about the plant and nature that kids will find fascinating (adults will too!). Milkweed is part of the arsenal of native plants that every organic gardener should have in their garden.