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Weeds for the bees

Attract bees and butterflies with these perennials
In the last few years, with all the media about bees and butterflies, we have seen increased interest in a few perennials that hardly anyone looked at years earlier. Butterfly weed, shown below, is one of them. Certainly a few gardeners would ask for it, but it has been traditionally difficult to find and still is.

The beautiful bright orange flowers are certainly alluring, but the flower color can vary from yellow to bright orange depending on seed source and environment. This natural perennial grows 2 to 3 feet tall and is known to be difficult to establish. It prefers a site that is in full sun and has well-drained soil. It can re-seed itself but is not considered to be invasive. If you are successful at getting it established in your garden, you will enjoy the parade of bees and butterflies that will call your garden home.

If you are looking for a perennial that the bees and butterflies love just as much but is more of a sure thing, consider Asclepias incarnata, or swamp milkweed. It is much easier to find and grow. Swamp milkweed grows a little taller, up to 4 and even 5 feet. Its flower color is light rose-pink but can also be white. Just like butterfly weed, it prefers to grow in full sun and blooms from mid-summer to early fall, but swamp milkweed requires moist soil.

The challenges of gardening will continue to baffle us but we all continue to try new things. While gardening may be popular because it is good for the environment, it’s also fun, and even with its challenges it is always very rewarding.

HAVE A GARDENING QUESTION? Let us know and we may answer your question in next months Magazine.

Shelly Nold from November 2016 Issue – Shelly Nold is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207.

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