I’m excited to report that some of my little Asclepias tuberosa aka butterfly weed have started to bloom. I really didn’t expect them to the first year. Butterfly weed is in the milkweed family, which means that it is the food source for the monarch butterfly caterpillars. Milkweed is a truly fascinating plant. The flowers have a kind of trap system in place which causes the pollinator’s leg to slip in a crack and land on a sticky clump of pollen. When the animal tries to wrench its leg out of the crack it pulls the pollen out as well. The downside is that sometimes the insect isn’t able to pull itself free, or pulls itself free, but leaves a leg behind. Yikes! Nature is rough.
Here’s a lovely scene from our Mother’s Day hike at Harriman State Park. The apple trees were blooming and the fragrance was heavenly. I was hoping to find morels, but there wasn’t one in sight. There hadn’t been any rain in weeks, so it wasn’t that surprising.
If you were following me around last summer you might have seen me reach into various gardens and swipe some milkweed seed pods. You might also have seen a mortified 10 year old girl with me. Poor kid. She didn’t get a normal mom.
After taking a propagation class this winter, I was inspired to set up my lights and heat mat at home. While the Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed) and the Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) sprouted easily, the Asclepias purpurea end (purple milkweed) did nothing.
I moved the tiny seedlings out of their initial trays into roomier pots I made out of newspaper. These are easy to make (I guess a tutorial is in order) and are great because you can plant them directly into the soil.
I have enough of these guys to have a mini plant sale. Anyone interested in some native plants that are the host plant of the monarch butterfly?
Today was a stunning day on the High Line. We were working hard to keep the park open, but nature won the battle.
I just started a temporary gardening job at The High Line. So far we’ve mostly been clearing snow and ice to make it safe for the park’s visitors. It’s great to see how many people come out to walk the line in the cold weather. I’m so excited to be a part of it.
Next week promises to be true Spring weather. Can’t wait to get in the plant beds! In the meantime, it’s fun to dig in the snow.
My latest class towards my horticulture certificate is plant propagation. We are learning many different ways to grow new plants from existing ones. In addition to the lecture portion, we have hand’s on work in the greenhouse.
We have learned about the different growing requirements for seeds. We’ve made leaf and stem cuttings. And last week we learned about grafting branches and buds onto different plants called rootstock.
Besides all of the great information, I’ve been able to pick some fun plants from the greenhouse at the Brooklyn Botanic garden (aka school) to bring home to propagate. I have many different succulents, a couple of geraniums, African violets, begonias and a dogwood.
The class has inspired me to set up my grow light and heating mat again. I mist the little cuttings several times a day while they are trying to establish roots. My setup is big enough that I’ve put some other plants under the lights. Already my pitcher plants and Venus fly trap look much happier.
Here’s a great article, which highlights how important and beautiful designing gardens with native plants can be.