Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is not a weed at all
(a plant out of place that you donít want in your garden). Better
common names are butterfly or orange milkweed, as it is in the
milkweed family, has orange flowers in mid to late summer, and
attracts butterflies. Other benefits are that it is hardy, low
maintenance, good in rain gardens as well as drought and dry
soils, tolerates deer, and the leaves feed monarch butterfly
larvae. For all these reasons it was named the Perennial Plant of
the Year for 2017.
Harvest tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and other fruiting crops
frequently to encourage continued production. Remove any fruits
that have gone by unless you're in competition for the biggest
zucchini! You don't want the plant to produce mature seeds because
that will signal that it's time to slow down fruit production.
Check container-grown plants frequently, and water as necessary
to keep soil moist. Soil can dry out very quickly, especially in
small containers and those made of clay. Hanging baskets,
especially those lined with sphagnum moss or coir (the rough tan
material made of coconut husk fibers), also dry out daily when
plants are mature. If you bought a basket already planted, or
didnít incorporate water absorbing gels at planting, scratch some
in the surface now. You can find these at many complete garden
stores. They hold much water, releasing it to the plants over
During periods of frequent rainfall, nutrients are washed out of the soil of container plants. Many of the newer annual flowers are raised, and bred, to need high fertility. Give them a dose of liquid fertilizer to keep them producing flowers for the rest of the season. Add a dilute fish emulsion- or seaweed-based fertilizer to the water each time you water, or a synthetic liquid or slow release fertilizer according to label directions.
Check tomato plants for large, green-striped horned caterpillars.
A few can cause lots of damage, so hand pick and destroy them when
found. Spray the organic pesticide B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis)
to control large infestations.
Protect your squash vines from the squash vine borer. These
clear-winged moths lay their eggs on the stems and the hatching
larvae bore into the vines, causing the plant to wilt and possibly
die. Apply the organic pesticide B.t. every 3 or 4 days during
July and early August to kill hatching larvae before they enter
If these donít work on the squash vine borer, slit the vine stem
where it is wilting and back until you find the feeding grub.
Remove and destroy it, then bury the end of the vine so that
hopefully it will root and resume growth.
Return to Perry's Perennial Pages: Green Mountain Gardener Articles-- your reliable source of gardening information for over 50 years.