are some of these milkweed plants dead?

Asked September 19, 2018, 6:41 PM EDT

Hello, I am the guy that had a question about what was attacking my Monarch chrysalises. You were right, the U of MN Monarch group was able to help me. Problem was small parasitoid wasps. Thank you. Along the same butterfly gardening issue: Background: I dug up and transplanted about 80 milkweed plants this past May and moved them into my back yard. They grew well and I lost only a couple. Spring transplanting was needed since I had no luck with seeds that I purchased and planted last fall. As a side note, it sounds like the best way to get milkweed is from seed so I am going to add more plants this fall by taking seeds from milkweed pods and use fresh/viable seeds this time. I will plant the seeds right before the ground freezes. If you have any thoughts about how to best grow milkweed from seed please let me know. Here is the question: I was out of town last week and my butterfly garden now looks like the pictures in the attached photos. There was no rain for the week and no watering done either. Before I left, the leaves were starting to yellow and began to lose their leaves - perhaps shutting down for fall? Are these plants dead? Some look black and lifeless while others look dormant and more typical of what I would think a 'shutdown' milkweed plant would look like. Please let me know if you think the plants have a chance of sprouting next spring. If they are dead, I will remove the dead plants and plant more seeds in their place. I just don't want to transplant again next year as that was a big chore. I also don't want to crowd the existing plants with more seeds either if there is a good chance these will regrow despite looking so dead. I promise not to hit you routinely with too many questions and the one from earlier this week and this one are the only issues I foresee asking you for quite some time. I really appreciate your expertise regarding what's' up with these milkweed plants in my butterfly garden.

Anoka County Minnesota

1 Response

Yes, most milkweed plants that have been growing since spring are going dormant now. Those that grew from seed or rhizomes later in the season may still be green. In any case, plants that look dead probably aren't and their roots will repopulate the area in spring.

When growing conditions are favorable, common milkweed spreads rapidly by seed and roots. Because of its vigor, it's sometimes necessary to restrain it.