Viceroys usually show up in my garden in mid-August or later and this year they were right on schedule. I grow a dwarf willow as a hedge and it is also a host plant for the Viceroy. I’d encourage everyone to grow some form of willow in their yard just to bring in this lovely butterfly.
While I had poor germination with these seeds. probably because they were not cold-stratified, the one which did germinate in March is a winner now at the beginning of August. Most of my regular Asclepias incarnata looks terrible – almost as if it is dying and I don’t know the reason. Most people I know don’t have good luck with this so-called perennial in St. Louis. This particular variety looks spectacular the first year and I’m amazed that it’s blooming this first year. I’ll definitely keep these seeds for planting this fall.
My milkweed seems to be a magnet for aphids every year and yet I don’t worry too much since they seem to disappear later in the year. One of the reasons is that these aphids have Lacewings as predators. According to the video below Lacewing larvae can eat 200 to 300 aphids. It’s interesting that the Lacewing eggs are mainly where there are aphids and not on milkweed plants without aphids.
This picture comes from one of my plants, so you can see that these eggs alone could easily eat 2000 aphids.
Lacewings will eat also small caterpillars, but they certainly will have plenty aphids to eat before they find my caterpillars.
On my milkweed, if I find any Monarch eggs I usually put them in a cage to protect them.
Below are some of the newer plants which are doing well this year.
Cheyenne – very few seeds germinated, but the ones which made it are spectacular and the bees seem to like them
I’ve finally had a female Monarch sighting in my garden and she was laying eggs. I saw about a dozen eggs laid, but there were probably more. If you look close at one picture, you will see all the aphids and white flies on the milkweed. I’m pretty sure they don’t have any impact on the larvae.
Instead of spreading my plants out, I put all my milkweed into one area to try and entice the Monarchs into my back yard. Most of the plants are tropical milkweed, but I also have incarnata and tuberosa.
By July 15th, many of my plants have gone to seed and are done blooming. Most people would just let these plants keep growing and just taking up garden space. I choose to cut most of these down to the ground. The advantage is that they will come back and re-bloom and look very nice for a late summer season. Now this is not true for every plant, but for many I grow it is true. Maltese Cross, Salvia, Dianthus, Veronica and others will all give me a 2nd and sometimes a 3rd bloom. You can give them an extra boost of fertilizer, Miracle Gro or compost if you think they need it.
Some plants which don’t re-bloom, like Penstemon, I cut off the seed stalks so that I can get more sun onto the remaining plants.
Any plants that are diseased or don’t appear to be doing well are dug up and pitched.
I also use this time to fill-in with plants that I may have dug up from other spots.
You can also plant some annuals, like Zinnia, to fill-in some of these areas.