Butterfly Weed separating

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Butterfly Weed separating

Postby Bill Grigg » Sun Oct 04, 2015 8:28 pm

A friend of mine has a huge butterfly weed plant that she hopes to separate, and transplant. Anyone have any experience doing this? When, and do you just cut the plant's root system into workable portions? I always loved the butterfly weed plant - host to monarch caterpillars and favored by many pollinators!
My thanks - Bill G.
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Re: Butterfly Weed separating

Postby SandyLee » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:10 pm

Hi Bill! I'm assuming that the plant is the "orange" butterfly weed? If so, it's almost impossible to separate it because it has a long tap root. (...and it's almost as difficult to just transplant it.) Although Monarchs will feed on it, they generally don't lay eggs on this species of plant... usually just the common (roadside) milkweed.

Your friend's plant should have some cool seed pods on it right now (unless some critter ate them... the bunnies ate all mine.) You can keep the seeds over the winter, and then start them about 8-10 weeks before last frost, to get some seedlings. You can also try just getting some seeds and putting them in the ground before it snows... since it's a self-seeder... you may even get some plants "the easy way!"

Oh... one last comment about the big plant.... after first bloom, it will handle a fairly good "trimming"... then will often bloom again!
- Sandy
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Re: Butterfly Weed separating

Postby Bill Grigg » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:45 pm

The property owner is the caregiver to my 15-month old grandson. She noticed me looking at the (unusual) orange flowering plant, one time when I was picking up Connor from her day care. She had no idea what type of plant this was. I did notice the four monarch caterpillars chomping away on the plant's leaves, at that time... I was hoping that someone could suggest a way to split this large plant, to benefit the monarchs.

Thanks for the reply. I will inform the day care person that it is better just to trim back the plant. I will also check for seed pods, and follow your advice.

Thanks - Bill G.
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Re: Butterfly Weed separating

Postby Bill Grigg » Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:22 pm

Yesterday I "dug" out the large butterfly weed plant - it had a 3" diameter taproot, that promptly broke off about 2" from the above-ground. But what I got has been re-planted, and I hope it will be successful. I guess mature butterfly weeds are not meant to be relocated. FYI.
Good birding - Bill G.
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Re: Butterfly Weed separating

Postby SandyLee » Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:54 pm

Put a marker where you planted it, Bill.... they tend to be late to "wake up" in the Spring... but if most of the tap root is gone, I don't think that there is much hope of it surviving.... However, plants will often surprise us! :D
- Sandy
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