There are hundreds of different milkweeds, but a few that are easily found here in Florida are scarlet milkweed (Asclepias; red or yellow, they are both called scarlet), giant milkweed (Calatropis), orange milkweed (Tuberosa), white milkweed (Perennis) and balloon milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa). (The swarms of monarchs I had a few months ago seem to be gone for now. Should I let the lady bugs and aphids duke it out or spray the plant with a hose to remove the aphids? The butterflies loved it, looked great in floral arrangements and I had a lot of fun with the name. It produces clusters of 1/2" wide cream to white star shaped flowers with a purplish 'eye' and the flowers attract butterflies along … If they did, it didn’t give you much of a head start. Thank you for your website. I have a dozen or so plants in 4.5″ geranium pots, and a few in 6″ pots, and a few still in little Dixie cups that I’m moving up to bigger pots today. I live in Florida zone 10, but I was also wondering if I should start them in pots, because our soil is very sandy. Or should I get another species? Hummingbirds have been pollinating my Gomphocarpus physocarpus. I am in zone 9B or 10A, depends on what chart you look at. Balloon Plant, Gomphocarpus physocarpus, is a member of the milkweed family although not normally labeled an Asclepias species. I am in Florida, so they have been outside most of the time, aside from a couple when I brought all my plants in in to let the potted tropical mw grow back and to keep butterflies from laying eggs on and eating my seedlings. These plants are in a 3 1/2″ pot and are ready to go in the ground or be potted into a larger container. Or will they last a few years like temperate-climate varieties? My luck with the Davis, Virginia Silk & Thin Leaf Milkweed, has not been as good, but I haven’t given up, yet. The packet said 25 seeds but it looked like more than that. Hi Fran, these seeds don’t need cold stratification so I would start indoors late winter or early spring. I have a tall plant …had the flowers and still have a few but…don’t see any pods coming…. I started to pull it and then thought better. You are right. Are these cuttings from the parent plant contaminated? (I was hoping that plant would actually get to bloom this year) We’re still finding a few eggs on the physocarpus seedlings (about 2 feet tall now) too. I am in Zone 7b – Burlington, NC. Whorled Milkweed. Hi Marck, native is important for creating & maintaining a healthy ecosystem, but non-natives can also be beneficial for monarchs and other garden visitors. I bet coffee filters are good too ’cause the roots probably can’t grow into them. It’s a good idea to expand your selection of milkweed varieties and have several patches around your yard and garden. bloom: Late summer white flowers. Hi Wendy, I think most milkweed seeds can survive cold temps but there is typically much less seeding from warm weather varieties. I have ordered 4 different ones… Davis, Virginia Silk, Wild Cotton, Family Jewels & Thin Leaf Milkweed. If the plants are not cut back, the incoming Monarchs can rub up against or eat leaves with the virus left by last seasons virus carriers. I’ll have to plant them tomorrow. A Milkweed family member, another common name is Balloon Plant. You can start them indoors or try spring sowing seeds. Or would I have to bring it in to overwinter? The plant is related to milkweed and attracts bees and wasps making it a good choice for growing near the veggie garden. . Today it popped open emitting the seeds. Plant Specs: Perennial for USDA hardiness zone 8 and above (lows -12.2 °C or 10 °F) Fast growing annual for colder zones. I live Northern California (San Fran Bay Area) Zone 9. The terminology for this plant is a little confusing. Here are some ideas to stop aphids from taking over your milkweed plants: 10 Ways to Stop Aphids from Taking Over Milkweed. I think, if I do this next fall, I will use a heat pad! I have never seen a monarch take nectar from either species so surprised by your report! If they are dark brown, they should be mature…congrats! My ground is very sandy and usually pretty dry! I bought one of the “Goose plants” (it was labeled “Family Jewels”) thru mail order last October, & I immediately planted it outside. Called by several common names, it is a popular non-native milkweed in the United States. Hi Khaba, the ballon plant is a host plant for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) and also the plain tiger butterfly (Danaus chrysippus)…. I will have to rescue the plants from them in about a week. Did you know that to potential predators, Monarchs taste terrible? Easy, drought-tolerant and trouble free. The first pod (on the potted plant) just split today, with lots of shiny dark brown seeds inside. Gomphocarpus (= Asclepias) physocarpus is a plant in the milkweed family (in the subfamily Asclepiadoideae of the Apocynaceae, formerly the Asclepiadaceae) often used as an ornamental for the striking yellowish, ball-like fruits. I, too, am very aware of it, & I will cut off a branch(es) from my Milkweed, if I don’t think it looks healthy, any time of the year! Wife wants large common milkweed plants in nursery pots to grow caterpillars on this year so I’m getting an early start. If some of the pods are “close” to developing right before your first frost, take a long cutting and put it in a vase. This milkweed species is a rare find in nurseries, so seeds are probably your only option in most regions. I have noted that many plants have caterpillars on them when removing them, so I guess that’s why it’s of interest here… Anyway, proceed with caution! I have 100 days before the next freeze…hopefully that will be enough time to see the plant in all its glory. You can also overwinter plants indoors: Hello! What size pot do you recommend? Where to find the milkweed and how to grow the milkweed plants. I’ll have to bring the plant inside when the weather turns cold, but I’m hoping that the seedpods will continue developing under lights. By the way – they call G. physocarpus Bishop’s Balls in the UK and you can buy seeds and plants there. But I was able to cut the stems and have had them in water inside and now the pods are finally opening. Both plants are doing well in dry garden conditions, but I have not had any monarch caterpillars on them so far. you probably have an idea as to which one. Any advice is much appreciated. All of the stems are still green and alive months later, but no leaves. I am so looking forward to seeing how this interesting Milkweed is going to do! Pendulous clusters of small, white flowers with a slight vanilla scent are borne in the leaf axils in summer. If starting them indoors how many seeds should I put in a pot? Balloon Milkweed. Aquatic milkweed grows in full sun in soil that is continuously wet. Milkweed actually does double duty, acting as a host plant and a nectar plant (a plant that adult butterflies feed on). (I do protect many of my plants from freezes, too. Wondered if I should pinch young seedlings to promote branching. Fertilizer in the pot? Plants brought in … I have been mail ordering from Annie’s Annuals and Perennials in CA. Good luck with your plants! I went from, at one point, having 11 to now having 4. Don’t remove them before, or they may not be viable. That way, there is usually some that will be aphid-free. we planted these as 4 ft trees about 11 months ago—they are now about 5.5 feet tall. I love the butterflies too much to do that! What about bottled spring water? I am now the proud owner of 3 of these plants. They probably won’t mature this season but you can overwinter them indoors and start with some plants next season. good luck! Hi Bob, it sounds like your seeds are getting close! Also… DO NOT LET ANY OF THE MILKY SUBSTANCE GET INTO YOUR EYES!! There have been instances where people have had to go to the emergency room so I would suggest seeing a doctor if your eyes are still bothering you. The Balloon Milkweed (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) is an unusual perennial for Florida butterfly gardens. I live in Michigan and purchased several stems of this plant at a local market. I always cover milkweed seeds with a little dirt when direct planting: I have recently discovered the Gomphocarpus physocarpus plant on Ebay and purchased some seeds. They must be growing from last summer’s roots? If I end up with 40 or 50 plants I can give some away. Maybe the trees are not dead and we just need to trim them all the way back to the trunk? Good luck with your plants! I would leave them outside to develop until just before your first frost. I like slow release because you don’t have to keep applying it: I stumbled across this article whilst researching weeds that grow on my property in northern New South Wales, Australia. Perhaps you were exposed to more sap because of your aphid removal technique? I love them!! There are hundreds of milkweed varieties, but only a few are sustainable in Florida. You can sow yours directly in Florida…, 3 Big Advantages of Winter Sown Milkweed + Winter Sowing Container ideas. I’m trying to look for a natural way to fight them. We grow them annually in zone 5. Hi CorryAnne, they are only cold hardy to zone 8, but are fast growing annuals…, Thanks for your reply Tony! Native to South Africa, this plant is an invasive in tropical climates, but in my zone 6-7 area, winter cold keep it in check. Also, I snapped some pictures of a golden digger wasp visiting the flowers in August. trim back but leave a couple of growing bubs on each stem the way you want the plant to grow. SE PA USA. but stand the tap water for an hour as this release’s any chemicals in the water. Here are some ideas that can yield instant results: How to stop Aphids from taking over Milkweed, Hi, I live in Los Angeles and my neighbors milkweed, hairy balls, are starting to seed. Our native species are all around us in our natural areas, but … Since the seeds are over a year old and they are tropical I planted the whole packet. I have used probably 500 ladybugs and about 100 lacewings and they hardly dented the problem. I have stratified and have sprouted some common milkweed which is local and I will not need to trim, but it is slower growing so won’t do much this summer – and I can’t find that at local nurseries. I received some seeds and grew about 8 plants in a large pot in southwestern Ohio—monarchs laid tons of eggs on them in August, and I had several hummingbirds nectaring often on the blooms in the early morning. So grow a pair (or more) or hairy balls this spring! I have balloon plants reseeding all over a large lot in Oakland, CA and am giving away the seedlings. Milkweed plants survive the winter in cold regions by going dormant. Ok to use tap water? $ 7.95. The only thing I saw enjoying the nectar was a lot of ants! Even though I flooded my eye with water for multiple times, several minutes each time, I still had to go to a Emergency Clinic, which put me thru another serious eye rinse process… they gave me some kind of pain killing eye drops when I first got there, which eased the burning & tricked me into believing that I was thru the worst of it, but, within a few hours, the horrific burning came back, & my eyes had become so sensitive to light that I sat in a dark room with dark sunglasses on & even the dimmest of lights felt like a dagger in my eye! I am saving some seeds from the milkweed. Is this the normal lifespan—tree dies after “ballooning”? Right now in Lake Forest, California Green Thumb International has these plants in one gallon sizes with balls and all! If the pods are purplish, you may be in luck and get some mature seeds, but if the pods are green the seeds will likely be white and not viable. You could overwinter the plant indoors though: How well do G Physocarpus do in the garden in our short but very-long-day Minnesota summers? These plants can hold the O.E. I didn’t plant any this summer but have a nice patch of them growing again this summer in the same place they grew last year. (Asclepias physocarpa). BTW, all kinds of wasps *loved* the flowers. I got some milkweed ssp in my my eye and it almost blinded me. I would guess it would be fine to take cuttings to start new plants, but again, it’s hard to say without having all the details. Winter sowing temps are too cold, but if you wait until March to prepare sowing containers for warm weather varieties, you should have good germination rates…good luck! I had a miserable night & was taken to an eye specialist in the morning, that determined I had torn a hole in my cornea! Florida has twenty-one milkweed plants native to the state. Newsletter for butterfly tips, sales, new products, coupons and more…! Good luck! Had to go to the ER. Please read comments below for more info about growing Gomphocarpus physocarpus in your garden: Valentine Gift Ideas for a Butterfly Lover, Start or Improve your Monarch Butterfly Garden, Butterfly Garden Book for Monarchs- Instant Download, Top Tools, Supplies, and Resources for Raising Monarch Butterflies, 25 Milkweed Plant Ideas for North American Butterfly Gardens, http://vnps.org/non-native-milkweed-helpful-harmful/, Monarch Butterfly Kits to Raise Caterpillars into Butterflies, Winter Sowing Milkweed Seeds Part 1: Supply Checklist, Perennial for USDA hardiness zone 8 and above (lows -12.2 °C or 10 °F), Not the same plant as its bushier brother, Sow seeds directly after final frost (not recommended below zone USDA zone 8). Thx! Their customer service is great, and they have a good selection of Milkweed,too! I had over a dozen eggs laid on it! No matter which varieties you plant (both native and non-native), many predators have adapted to the poisonous nature of milkweed, which is why it’s estimated only between 1-5% of monarchs survive to become butterflies outdoors. . Plant Name: Balloon Plant Milkweed Plants. this summer I have 3 small balls starting , but , 50 to 70 buds and flowers blooming…. Then…it came to me…”great balls of fire…that’s the hairy ball plant!”. Do you have any suggestions. I ended up using neem oil and that works but don’t know the damage to caterpillars from the oil. If the monarchs used it at all during the fall, you might want to cut back some stems so fresh growth can emerge, the same as you would do for tropical milkweed. We do have lots of common milkweed, and that’s where almost all the eggs have been so far. Until one particularly large swamp milkweed plant started producing flower buds, these were the plants where we found the most eggs. Eucalyptus deglupta, also Called Rainbow Eucalyptus, in Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Fla. Today, visitors can meander through the lush grounds and admire botanicals like Cuban Petticoat Palm, Buddha Belly Bamboo, and Balloon Milkweed. They’re also frequent visitors to our swamp and tropical milkweed plants. I just saw this in a local nursery next to giant milkweed today. Caterpillars stripped my tall tree that I bought, then it died from lack of water–(I had a baby and no one tended the plants for a few days). I have been there, done that, & it isn’t a fun experience, let me tell you!! It is also called Cotton-bush,Hairy Balls, Oscar, and Swan Plant. They are in moist potting soil in half a milk carton, under 220W of fluorescent lights and wrapped in saran wrap so they don’t dry out. Milkweed (host) Giant Milkweed (host) White Balloon Plant Milkweed (host) Passion Flower (host)Coontie (host) Dill (host)Parsley (host) Common Rue/Ruda (host) Dutchman Pipevine (host) Cestrum (host) Plants That Attract Hummingbirds I’ve started using toilet paper instead of paper towels to germinate seeds on, because I have had tomatoes seeds send roots into the paper towel and be impossible to get them loose w/o breaking most of them off (I threw those seeds away and started another packet.) I live in South East Michigan. None of the seed pods are open, and by the time I got home to research what type of milkweed seeds he gave me, it was to late to grab a stem cutting. Thank you for writing about this plant. Hi Chris, I’ve never heard of this happening to others handling physocarpus. My advice though, is to try BOTH methods and see if one outperforms the other. I have a six foot Oscar that I grew from seed started indoors, zone 7 (WV). Good luck with your new plants…, Hi, Tony. by susan.mahr. Hi Sunila, while it does make an interesting showpiece in the garden, or cut for a vase, our main use for it is to attract monarch butterflies to lay their eggs on it. How do I avoid the fluff blowing all around in my condo if they pop? I was told my A. incarnate would hybridize with A. perennes but that has never been the case for years. …and yes, I am also interested in growing native milkweeds in my garden but have not had any success so far with A. fascicularis, I intend to try again with A. speciosa next spring. Do I need to add, or avoid, any Miracle Grow type products? I would still soak the seeds before planting, but direct planting should work well for you. Should I dry the stems and “balls” or leave them in water and give them an occasional fresh cutting until they open? My Wild Cotton & Family Jewels have survived, & both have had eggs & caterpillars this summer. I have had a huge issue with Aphids. 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