To those of you interested in pollinator gardens, monarchs and milkweed, I encourage you to transplant milkweed from mow zones. It’s a great way to learn more about asclepias and NOW is time to do it. So grab a shovel and go get your hands dirty!
As some of you know, it’s safe to say I’ve become obsessed with transplanting asclepias syriaca! So, here is the technique I’ve developed of the last years through trial and error. Remember, you need to think longterm. Later season transplants will not look good until next season, but do-it-anyway! Good luck!
KRIN’S JARDIN BUZZ HOW-TO-TRANSPLANT MILKWEED FROM MOW-ZONES:
1 - FIND MILKWEED
Find milkweed in mow zones for from neighbours who plan to rip it up.
2 - MATERIALS
Your sharpest and longest shovel, dirt to fill your dig holes, buckets, and water.
3 - FIRST DIG TO LOOSEN SOIL BUT DON’T DIG ALL AROUND THE PLANT!
You want to get as much of the roots as you can. I do one first slice with the shovel dig deep about 6 to12 inches from the base of the plant to get as much of the taproot as possible. Next get your hands in the dirt and then search around to find for the white rhizomes that spread LATERALLY under the soil.. Digging all the way around the plant slices all of the lateral rhizomes, so try loosening the soil first.
4 - KEEP DIGGING AND LOOSENING SOIL AROUND ROOTS
If you can, loosen the soil around the biggest rhizomes. Follow them and keeping another connected milkweed plants intact… if you can. Then pull.
5 - IF ALL ELSE FAILS…
…dig deep and wide. They break very easily, so be gentle and do your best. Follow as much of the roots as you can and pull HARD!
6 - WATER ROOTS ASAP
I bring water bottles or buckets with a few inches water already in the bottom to transport them.
Not, much! I couldn't get much of the roots... but check it out one year later!
7 - PREPARE NEW LOCATION AND PLANT RIGHT AWAY
Find a new sunny place with good air circulation where they will not need to be moved. Remember in nature milkweeds like sun, space and air to avoid aphids. Space them about one meter around the perimeter of your garden or planting area. Don’t worry, they’ll fill in within 2 years!
8 - FULL SOAK BEFORE PLANTING
Give them a really good soak while you prepare the new location.
9 - WATER WELL
Keep well watered for the first week.
JARDIN BUZZ MILKWEED TRANSPLANTING TROUBBLESHOOTING TIPS:
In the case of transplanting milkweeds, practice really does make “better.”
Sooner (May and June) is better, but if it’s going to get mowed, try anyway! I have had excellent luck with July transplants. They look awful post transplant but are stunning the following spring!
Smaller pants will have a better chance of survival.
Remembering mow zones are often very compacted soils. I have had luck with plants surviving with only very tiny amounts of roots. Again, keep trying!
Remember, particularly larger flowering plants will not like this disruption. They might look terrible and loose all their leave but the green stems can still photosynthesized and you’ll have lovely milkweeds next year! I trim any very long or broken stems. And, I remove the leaves once they have turned brown.
Wear gloves if you have a milkweed or latex allergy.
(note: mature milkweed can grow almost anywhere... so don't hesitate!)