Lower South

August, 2003
Regional Report

Web Finds

Tacky Yard Art
I normally stick with the serious gardening stuff here, but I couldn't pass this one up. We all have a neighbor who finds beauty in things others find…well…tacky. Maybe that neighbor is you, or me. Either way this Tacky Yard Art Contest site will provide a great chuckle during these hot summer days when we hide indoors waiting for a break in the weather. Just promise not to get too many ideas…or to tell your neighbor about this.

Favorite or New Plant

Tropical Milkweed
Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) goes by more common names that a criminal on the run! Some of its other aliases include Mexican milkweed, scarlet milkweed, bloodflower, Mexican oleander, and butterflyweed. Tropical milkweed is easy to grow, thriving in full sun to part shade, and tolerant of dry to wet soil conditions. It belongs in every butterfly garden as it is a favorite food source for caterpillars of monarch and queen butterflies. Adult butterflies are attracted to the clusters of orange and yellow blooms that are produced from spring to fall. A cultivar with yellow flowers is also available. Plants are considered annuals in most of the south but may return in the lower south if mulched well and planted in a protected location. The upright, 2- to 3-foot-tall growth habit makes it a natural for fitting in among other taller annual and perennial flowers. This milkweed attracts a yellow aphid that does little damage but that does attract several species of beneficial insects including ladybeetles, lacewings, syrphid flies, and parasitic wasps. I suggest leaving them be to help boost beneficial insect populations around your garden and landscape. However, if you wish, the aphids can be easily blasted off with water or sprayed with a soap or horticultural oil spray.

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