What's wrong with my milkweed?

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EOppie
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What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by EOppie » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:33 pm

Central Florida here, first season with milkweed in our landscaping. The Monarchs definitely found them, but now it seems they are dying or very ill.

They have a lot of milkweed bugs, however our extension office said if I wasn't collecting seeds that they wouldn't do any harm as they just go after the pods.

Now there is a significant amount of leaf drop, and they just look generally unhealthy with discolored leaves and no new growth.

Is this normal? Or have I successfully killed my milkweed?
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Dawgvet
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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by Dawgvet » Sun Jul 14, 2019 7:26 am

EOppie wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:33 pm
Central Florida here, first season with milkweed in our landscaping. The Monarchs definitely found them, but now it seems they are dying or very ill.

They have a lot of milkweed bugs, however our extension office said if I wasn't collecting seeds that they wouldn't do any harm as they just go after the pods.

Now there is a significant amount of leaf drop, and they just look generally unhealthy with discolored leaves and no new growth.

Is this normal? Or have I successfully killed my milkweed?
First, let me thank you for trying to help the Monarch butterflies. They are in serious trouble and I wish more people would plant NATIVE milkweed.
Do you remember which butterfly/milkweed you planted?
From the looks of the leaves it may be tropical/Mexican Asclepsias?

Some possibilities as to what could be wrong:
-Milkweed leaf fungus
-Root rot

Milkweed hates to be crowded. When they are, they are very prone to fungal and bacterial diseases.
Since you have to be careful what you spray on plants that butterflies feed on, you can make a spray solution of a pint of water and 2 Tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide. (No, I’m not anti chemical, I use them on my lawn all the time. I’m just a little more careful around flowers that Hummers and pollinators frequent). Remove and discard any fallen/dead leaves.
If it is root rot, ain’t nuttin you can do.

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hsvtoolfool
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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by hsvtoolfool » Sun Jul 14, 2019 8:47 am

You have inspired me to plant a milkweed garden in my future back yard design. When I was a boy, Monarchs were common and I loved finding a crysalis and watching the butterfly emerge. My front yard is full of butterfly bushes and flowers, but I have yet to see a Monarch. I didn't realize how dire their future had become.

EOppie
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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by EOppie » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:31 am

Thank you for the help, I really appreciate you taking time! You are correct I planted tropical milkweed. It was at a local nursery that specifically specializes in plants that are not treated with Neonicotinoids or other insecticide.

It does look like I may have leaf fungus, I am going to try the peroxide spray.

Should I trim the stalk part of the plant back at all? Should I be seeing new leaf growth during this season? Or does the plant start to go dormant?

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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by Dawgvet » Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:53 am

I didn't realize how dire their future had become.
I would encourage everyone to plant some butterfly/Milkweed if they can.
The Monarch population in the western US has decreased by 90% in the past couple of years. The Eastern Monarch population fortunately has increased.
If you do plant milkweed, please try to plant native plants. Here is a website that describes the most common native plants and where they grow ( https://blog.nwf.org/2015/02/twelve-nat ... -monarchs/ )
Fortunately, a lot more people are becoming aware of the Monarch's situation and I've seen a lot more butterfly weed available for sale. Unfortunately, most of them are the tropical/Mexican butterfly weed; which is just not as good but is better that nothing.
It is not recommended that the tropical/Mexican butterfly weed is planted in FLA due to the possibility of causing a parasitic infection in the caterpillars and killing them.
A caterpillar can easily go through one plant in it's life cycle, that is why it is recommended to have at least two plants per caterpillar.
A Monarch can deposit multiple eggs on one plant. That is why it is recommended to plant them in clusters of multiple plants and near each other so they won't have to travel far from plant to plant and/or starve to death.
Last edited by Dawgvet on Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by hsvtoolfool » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:36 am

I got my two species picked out already and no where to put them. Yet!

Asclepius tuberosa (butterfly weed or indian posy)
Asclepius incarnata (swamp milkweed)

Both are native to pretty much the entier Southeastern US.

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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by EOppie » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:38 am

Sounds like I planted the wrong one. Well, my son wants to go to "the plant place" today so I will take a look around and see if I can find one of these native varieties.

I may need to have this one in a container, but it looks like that would be okay based on what I am reading.

I also just sprayed some hydrogen peroxide on the plants and took off the sick leaves.

Hopefully they will get to a better place!

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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by Dawgvet » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:50 am

EOppie wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 9:31 am
It was at a local nursery that specifically specializes in plants that are not treated with Neonicotinoids or other insecticide.
This is very important. A lot of nurseries get their plants from providers that use systemic insecticides--->Dead caterpillars.
I usually avoid getting them from "big box" stores for that reason.
Should I trim the stalk part of the plant back at all

If it is not root rot them trim them back in stages. Gives the plant some leaves for energy.
Sounds like I planted the wrong one
Not really, just not the BEST one. Some milkweed is better than none. Fortunately, more people are aware of the Monarch situation and are willing to plant more milkweed. As I said earlier, the most common one you will see in nurseries is the tropical/Mexican milkweed (easier to mass produce). Most nurseries are seeing an increase demand but the staff doesn't realize that it's not the best one to stock, it's just the easiest to get.
Should I be seeing new leaf growth during this season?
Looked up where Celebration FL is and you are below Orlando. Frosts should be minimal to none, so Mexican milkweed should be a perennial/constant grower in your location. IF possible, move the plant to a more "airy" location to mininimize the fungal infection.

Some people believe that there MAY be a problem with warm weather areas of the US where the non-native milk weed doesn't die back.
This is actually a quote from a Florida website:
Harm from parasites. Tropical milkweed has been linked to the transmission of Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE), a protozoan parasite. When OE spores infect milkweed leaves, they can be carried on the bodies of adult butterflies, spreading the infection. Microscopic spores on the bodies of infected caterpillars are spread to eggs, and infected larvae may not emerge from pupal stage or may emerge as very weak adults.
and
Harm from migration disruption. The use of non-native Tropical milkweed also is believed to encourage Monarchs to overwinter in Florida instead of migrating, making them more susceptible to OE. The plant may escape into natural areas, causing further disruption of migration paths. By staying in Florida and continuously breeding, Monarchs risk death from food shortages and cold temperatures.
That is why, if you live in non-frost areas that will naturally kill back the plant, it is recommended to sequentially trim back some of the plant and a few week later, the other parts.
Last edited by Dawgvet on Sun Jul 14, 2019 12:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

EOppie
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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by EOppie » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:15 pm

Thank you so much for the help! :thumbup:

Your advice mimics what I got today at the nursery.

Spoke with a master gardener at the nursery today who specializes in 🦋 plants ( they have a butterfly encounter experience at this nursery so it's not too far fetched).

She told me that it looks common for what she sees in the area with an iron deficiency, and it also looks like they are not getting enough light. She recommended that I amend the soil and then trim the plant back to its first node and to make sure they were not too close together of other plants and had some room to breathe. She also showed me how to look for any monarch eggs and how to move them.

I picked up two more plants today which is a native species (Asclepias tuberosa)
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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by Dawgvet » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:43 pm

I picked up two more plants today which is a native species (Asclepias tuberosa)
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One of my favorites. In a few weeks you may have seed pods and be able to get a lot more plants. (Give a few to the neigbors 8-) )

Here is how to collect the seeds: https://xerces.org/2017/09/07/harvestin ... nd-a-plan/

Keep an eye out for Aphids. They are very common on Milkweed. A quick spray with the hose will get rid of them very quickly.

One thing with "common" milkweed (tuberosa), it does not like to be moved. Unlike the other milkweeds, tuberosa has a long tap root. Pick your area carefully. Also, because of the tuberous root, it likes it a bit on the sunny/dry side.
Last edited by Dawgvet on Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What's wrong with my milkweed?

Post by hsvtoolfool » Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:22 am

I've been looking for Monarchs in my yard since this thread was posted, and I noticed that a bunch are indeed coming to my butterfly bushes. I mostly get visits from those little yellow field butterflies that are so common in my area. So I'll have to install my Milkweed patch next year for certain. I think it will be isolated from my other plants just to keep the aphids from spreading.

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