Swamp Milkweed — need help, advice, or encouraging words!

Mmathis

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A while back I started a thread because I thought some of my plants — specifically my swamp milkweed (Asclepius incarnata) — were suffering from a “nutrient” deficiency. https://www.gardenpondforum.com/thr...s-of-a-nutrient-deficiency.23401/#post-378096. The plants are 3-4 years old and are in my turtle-bog.

I placed some steel wool around the roots around that time, suspecting an iron deficiency but they seem to be doing worse: losing color, slow growth, no evidence of blooms. They have never bloomed in the years I’ve had them. They have been transplanted a couple of times, though, when I had to do bog reconstruction. They are in a bog setting and get full sun (at least 80% of the day).

According to what research I’ve been able to do, other than certain nutrients (which one would assume would be plentiful in a goldfish-fed bog), they don’t like being transplanted and can take a year or 2 to recover. They also like acidic, clay-type soil: my water is on the alkaline side and I have them planted in gravel (bog). They are supposed to do very well in water and like full sun. They are native to my area.

So, can’t decide what to do. I could find them another place to grow (which would be transplanting them again), but was hoping to keep them as bog plants. They don’t have to be bog plants, if they might be happier elsewhere.

This is a picture collage of a swamp mw that @addy1 posted, and what one of mine looks like currently.
92830B7E-1298-4776-A8EE-CD921A9AF241.jpeg
 
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I do still think they are lacking something - iron may just be one element. Perhaps they would appreciate being NEAR the water instead of IN the water? I think @addy1 said her's were planted on dry land, right? Although - and this will only muddy the water - (haha!) mine do great in my bog. HOWEVER - they are planted in the very shallowest part so they are really just in wet gravel, not actually in the water.
 
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I wish you well and besides that can not offer much more. My neighbor gave me three starts and they were doing well in my butterfly garden and then the rabbits came in one night and ate them to the ground and they never came back. Mine were doing well in a semi sun area that was not over moist or dry in normal clay mixed top soil.

Best of luck
 

addy1

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I think @addy1 said her's were planted on dry land, right?
Mine are in dry land, not the wettest spot, but this year it is wet, so darn much rain. I do not have any in the bog. Too many other plants, might toss some seeds in see if they take off.
 

Mmathis

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I almost hate to dig them up (since they’ve been moved several times in the past), but might go that route. Will have to find a good replacement spot for them. We have very clay soil, but it also dries out fast if not kept wet. But.....since we are entering the hottest season......I might decide to wait until fall for the move — to lessen the risk of major transplant shock! At least with them out of the actual bog, I will be able to have more control over any soil additives/amendments. Thanks all for replies!
 

JBtheExplorer

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I tried swamp milkweed in my bog. It did ok the first year, and did horrible the second, so I removed it. I know you've mentioned your issue for at least two or three years, and as you've said, its been three or four years. I'm not sure if there's hope for them where they're at currently. You may have to take the risk of killing them and move them, or potentially leave them there and get more?
 

Mmathis

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Hey, @JBtheExplorer! Thanks for bringing up that this has been an ongoing issue — I didn’t recall what I’d posted about them in the past, so saw your note and was just going back and looking. I had been guessing at their age, but looks like I did start them in 2014 which means they are 4 y/o plants. Gee, my little Asclepius incarnatas actually have their own journal entries.
 

addy1

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.I might decide to wait until fall for the move
Wait until they winter die back, if they do that down there. Mine leave dead stalks which I leave in place so I don't forget what is growing there. That would be the best time to move them.

We have clay soil, but right where they are I have put a lot of mulch trying to control weed growth. The bird feeders are there a lot of seed starts to grow. So that spot is somewhat rich soil.

Make a spot of dug up clay add mulch, compost, add a bit of perlite (helps retain moisture) I didn't do that but it helps a lot. If they don't do a total die back, do a cut back, move them then. Mine where small starts, a stem with a few leaves.
 

Mmathis

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@addy1 Thank you! LOL, while it’s true that we don’t really have a “winter” season here, we do get die-back. I found a good article from a monarch butterfly site and one of their recommendations was to transplant late summer-early fall.....or when die-back and cooler temps happen as you suggested. But for here, that’s probably going to be October-ish. I think I have a spot that might work, and this will give me something to do for the rest of the summer as I can start doing a proper bed-prep. I like the idea of adding Perlite! While our soil is mostly clay, when it dries out it becomes concrete. My usual “recipe” is to amend with compost. I thought that Asclepius incarnata had a taproot, but doesn’t according to this article, which sounds like an advantage for me.

https://monarchbutterflygarden.net/how-to-successfully-transplant-milkweed-taproots/
 

JBtheExplorer

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@Mmathis, I may have found your problem.

I discovered that I have Aster Yellows Phytoplasma on all of my black eyed susans. I have to remove all of them and can only hope the disease hasn't spread to my coneflowers. If it already has, they'll have to be removed, too, which is going to make my garden look empty, as well as providing almost no nectar this year and potentially next year. :(

After I found that out, I decided to look into why my milkweed has sick-looking leaves. It's similarly called Milkweed Yellows Phytoplasma. Long story short, I just found out I also have to remove every infected milkweed, which is 90% of them, including two of my Swamp Milkweeds. I don't know for sure if its what you have, but it very well could be. I know from last year that it prevented my Common Milkweed from blooming. Needless to say, I'm very disappointed and wish I would've caught it immediately. I would suggest removing yours so it doesn't spread to others when you add them.
 

Mmathis

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@JBtheExplorer I just looked up a few articles about Phytoplasma, but other than the yellowing of leaves (which really looks like a nutrient issue), none of the other symptoms seemed to fit, and based on the pictures shown, mine don’t look like those, either. But I’ll keep a close eye on them. Thank you for pointing that out — something the average gardener wouldn’t even have a clue about!

And you know......I have an acquaintance from Boy Scouts who is a botanist (PHD, no less), and another friend (well, actually 2, no, make that 3) who is a Master Gardener! It never occurred to me to ask them — DUH!
 

JBtheExplorer

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@JBtheExplorer - how did you know this is what it was? What signs do the plants show?

I don't know if it's what Mmathis has, but she has yellow leaves and no blooms, which are two symptoms. I figured I'd mention it, because if not, she may get more Swamp Milkweed and the potential disease could spread to them as well.

It is what I have, because I have both Common and Swamp, and my Common Milkweed looks exactly like the photos online show. I should've pulled them last year when I first noticed.
 

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