Milkweed Spreading Through My Landscape Makes Me Happy

Milkweed Spreading Through My Landscape Makes Me Happy
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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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

Posted by

Evelyn Hadden
on May 18, 2016 at 11:59 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet, Lawn Reform.


    • Susan
    • 8th February 2016

    Wow. Just wow.

    • admin
    • 7th September 2016

    To say more, I LOVE your garden.
    Also, knowing what plants are great “minglers” is very helpful.

    • Susan
    • 30th October 2016

    I am also happy to find common milkweed on my property and there is quite a bit. However, a few years ago, I let some grow in my vegetable garden and the next year it was trying to take over. Just a small warning.

    • admin
    • 7th November 2016

    One thing I’ve noticed, as have others, is that monarchs love common milkweed leaves earlier in the season when the leaves are fresh. The leaves get tough in early August.

    • Susan
    • 9th November 2016

    Just got home from the Texas Master Gardeners Conference in Collin County. I have the same topical milkweed you have all over our flower beds and love it. Imagine my surprise to learn from an informational booth at the conference that my milkweed wasn’t the “best” milkweed for Monarchs. Say it ain’t so Joe!! Live and learn, but my Monarchs still seem happy.

    • Gardenworm
    • 10th November 2016

    Susan, exactly what kind DID they say was the ‘best?’

    • Tom Christopher
    • 14th November 2016

    I love the lilac-like fragrance of milkweed flowers — your garden must be so sweet-scented in milkweed blossom season.

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