Plant Highlights: Asclepias

Butterfly Asclepias.pngCommon Name: Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed

Botanical Name: Asclepias (incarnata, tuberosa)

Sizes Available: 12 count Quart flats and Gallons

Season of Interest: Spring and Summer




It is finally Pollinator Week 2017! Yippy! The time is now to think about pollination planting and all the critters that make life for us possible. Did you know about 75% of plant species need the help of animals and insects to move pollen for fertilization? An estimated 1/3 of foods and beverages are made possible by pollinators.

While Honeybees are the superstars of Pollination, there are so many other beneficial animals that will, hopefully, continue to pollinate our environments. If you see these creatures, make sure to be friendly:

  • Ants
  • Beetles
  • Butterflies
  • Moths
  • Bats
  • Various species of Bees
  • Flies
  • Various birds, including Hummingbirds
  • Some small mammals

How can you entice these little friends into your space? By planting pollinator, and native species in your landscapes. There is one guaranteed way to attract various species to your garden, and that is to plant some Asclepias! Multiple variations on this herbaceous perennial are perfect for attracting winged friends, and for bringing bright colors into your space. Plantworks Nursery carries the following varieties:

  • Asclepias Tuberosa (milkweed)- Orange (Traditional) and “Hello Yellow”
  • Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)- Milkmaid, Cinderella, and Ice Ballet

While we have grown Asclepias incarnata for a number of years, 2017 will be the first time we have Tuberosa available. This has been great news to our friends who have been begging us for this brightly colored, pollinator attractor. (Also, being named the Perennial Plant of the Year 2017 doesn’t hurt any plants cause!) These native plants are right at home in North Carolina, and will fit perfectly into almost any planting project. Non invasive and easy to manage, they are practically a perfect perennial.

Here are some brief points to know about both:

Tuberosa- Milkweed- Butterfly Weed

Grows to around 1-3 feet tall. Clustered orange or yellow flowers from early Summer into the Fall season. Lanceolate leaves. Prefers dry, sandy, or gravel soil. They need full sun to thrive. Butterflies love this plant because of the colors and the mass amount of nectar it provides. The major pollinator point to remember is that this plant is the larval host for the Monarch butterfly. Common names include “Butterfly weed,” “Indian Paintbrush,” and “Orange Milkweed.” Best propagated through seed, and most commonly found in fields.

Incarnata- Swamp Milkweed

Herbaceous, perennial native to North America. Prefers damp to wet soils, with good drainage. Like most Milkweeds, it produces a toxic sap that repels herbivorous animals and infectious insects, leaving room to attract pollinators of all types. Upright, growing to around 59 inches in height with fleshly white roots. The blooms emerge in late Spring. Pink/mauve, or white, colored blooms in summer. Full sun is needed for best performance. Found naturally growing by stems, lakes, and low-lying areas. This type of Asclepias is also a Monarch butterfly host.

So, make sure to consider the bees and butterflies all year around, but especially this week in particular while we celebrate their contributions to our lives. Tune into the little things around you that make life amazing, and realize we are all a part of an interlocking machine that works together to move forward. Yay Pollination!

*All plant highlights reflect plants grown by Plantworks Nursery. If you are interested in availability, please contact us for information. ( or 919-732-6594)

Words of Wisdom for June

  • If on the 8th of June it rain, that foretells a wet harvest, men sayen.
  • If St. Vitus day be rainy weather (June 15th), it will rain for forty days together.
  • A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon.
  • Sow beans in the mud, they will grow like wood.

“The month of June is remarkable for the brilliancy of its sunlight, steady barometer, and even temperature. For those who are engaged in gardening, it provides plenty to occupy their time, as much work requires attention in all departments.”

                                                           -The Garden Oracle, 1896-



beeCome honey bee, with thy busy hum,

To the fragrant tufts of wild thyme come,

And sip the sweet dew from the cowslip’s head,

From the lily’s bell and the violet’s bed.


Perennials for Pollinators

Perennials for Pollinators

The Spring season has rushed right past us!

While we have been busy supplying the east coast with beautiful Annuals, the Perennials are just beginning to hit their stride. June is the official month of Perennials as acknowledged by the Perennial Plant Association, and this is the time to prepare for long lasting color and interesting shapes to fill any space!

Not only is June perennial month, but also it is the time for Pollinator week. What is Pollinator week, you may ask? Taken straight from the National Pollinator Partnership website:

“Ten years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 19-25, 2017 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.”

As you can tell, June is the month for consideration planting for various reasons. Planting perennials in your space encourages wildlife and long lived landscapes, and planting for pollinators is essential to the survival of the ecosystem. Being aware of native perennial plants for your area, and planting those,  also greatly enhances the health of your landscapes and gardens. Plantworks Nursery has an extensive selection of Perennials that are pollinator friendly, and native to our Zone 7B. We can help you encourage pollination and healthy landscapes all throughout the year, just give us a call!

In addition to our tried and true plant varieties, as of Spring 2017, we will be growing Asclepias Tuberosa, winner of the Perennial Plant of the Year award for 2017. What makes this plant in particular worth mentioning? It is a larval host for the Monarch butterfly, and it is the only food source for them to survive. Planting Butterfly weed, Swamp Milkweed, or any variation of the species is sure to promote butterfly life, and give you a fantastic show of hummingbirds, bees, and other happy creatures when in bloom. Plantworks Nursery also carries many other great Perennials that will enhance your landscape or retail shelf. Some of these are included in the following list, but there are so much more!

  • Achillea- Yarrow
  • Agastache-Mexican Hyssop
  • Astilbe
  • Baptisia- False Indigo
  • Campanula
  • Ceratostigma- Plumbago, Leadwort
  • Chrysogonum- Green n Gold
  • Coreopsis- Tickseed
  • Dianthus- Garden Pinks
  • Dicentra
  • Digitalis- Foxglove
  • Echinacea- Coneflower
  • Eupatorium- Joe Pye Weed
  • Gaillardia- Blanket Flower
  • Geranium- Hardy
  • Leucanthemum- Shasta Daisy
  • Lobelia- Cardinal Flower
  • Monarda- Bee Balm
  • Nepeta- Catmint
  • Penstemon- Beard Tongue
  • Peony
  • Phlox- Paniculata and Subulata
  • Platycodon- Balloon Flower
  • Pycnanthemum muticum- Mountain Mint (New 2017)
  • Rudbeckia- Black Eyed Susan
  • Salvia- Garden Sage
  • Solidago- Goldenrod
  • Spigelia marilandica- Indian Pinks
  • Verbena- Vervain
  • Veronica- Speedwell

Please contact us all throughout the month of June for price discounts on certain perennials for pollinators. We are ready for warmer days!

Happy Planting!

Encouraging Wildlife

Working with your environment, and the animals in it, is a crucial part of being a responsible gardener or landscaper . Planting in ways that help sustain the landscape, and encouraging local animals to live there, is key to preserving nature and the benefits it brings us. Whether in the form of birds, bugs, mammals, or butterflies; all of these friendly neighbors can benefit your space in more ways than one. Aside from sustainability, there is the simple joy of watching nature come alive around you. This post will discuss a few ways to entice these critters to your space.

  • Eliminate Your Lawn

Did you know that before the 19th century, wildflower meadow lawns were much more popular with mostly every social class? It has only been in the more recent history that a campaign, launched by many associations, has made the american lawn much more prevalent. In the past, grasses were seen as weeds, and certain people’s job was to simply remove the sprigs from a landscape. The invention of the lawn mower certainly helped to make everyone feel like they could have the lawns of the aristocracy.  This has led to the incorrect assumption that large, bare, green lawns are better than natural landscapes. There are even “weed laws” around the country that insure this stays the norm.

Bird 3.pngEncouraging natural landscapes (wherever you are located) not only brings wildlife back to the scene, it has many practical benefits as well. Reduced cost of maintenance, less work in general, and the elimination of many pesticides are just a few of the positives. Landscapes that are natural require less and infrequent watering, no mowing, and no commercial lawn maintenance to upkeep. As the seasons change, a natural landscape will provide food resources for animals big and small. In the Spring and Summer, blooms abound for hungry pollinators; and in the Fall and Winter, spent seedheads and leaf litter provide food for birds and bugs alike. This also provides shelter for nesting birds and insects to make their home in your space. Overall, the pros of reducing your lawn are overwhelming, and in the best interests of wildlife, and your wallet.


  • Build a Habitat

There are a few key things that wildlife need to make a home.

  1. Food- Providing food sources throughout the season is a sure way to entice animals to your space. No matter if you want to encourage pollinators, or mammals as well, this is a crucial step to giving them incentive to visit you. Being wild, animals forage for different food throughout the year, and they need space to do so. Planting trees or shrubs that bear fruit, nuts, or seeds is a perfect way to do this. Trees also double as nesting for birds and homes for other wildlife. Certain bugs, such as newts and centipedes, thrive on decaying material. An undisturbed damp, shady corner of the garden will encourage frogs, toads, and salamanders alike.
  2. Water- All living things need access to clean water to survive. Filling this need is vitally important to thriving wildlife. Install and maintain a pond on your property. To add water to your landscape in smaller ways, add bird baths and butterfly dishes. raccoon-2With your lawn being eliminated, this will keep the water supply clean and healthy.
  3. Shelter- Animals need a home to nest, roost, breed, and live. Preserve old walls and
    sheds. These old structures are perfect for nesting bees, and other solitary bee species. Add bird houses to your property. Build a log pile to encourage bugs for composting. Compost! (That simply can’t be overstated.) Don’t keep things so tidy. Gardens can be natural and that will provide homes for various creatures in leaf litter, fallen trees and shrubs, or wooded areas.
  • Go Native

    While important, native planting doesn’t have to be the only type of planting that you do. It is, however, often overlooked in the pursuit of beauty and aesthetics. Just because a palm or magnolia may look visually pleasing in your space, doesn’t mean it mixes into your maple-beech/hickory habitat. Research may be required to find plants and trees that are suitable to your environment. The goal is take your space back to how it would have been before your home, or business, was built. This will give animals shelter and foraging space, which they need to stick around. You may sacrifice the pristine perfection of a completely controlled garden, but you will be rewarded with furry friends, and lower maintenance costs. Planting native alsodeer-1 ensures pollinators of all types will visit your space searching for food sources. Make sure to research which plants provide the most nectar all year around to allow your pollen-dusted friends to stay. Maintain mature trees, as this will encourage
    communities of animals to move in.


Changing your landscape to match the needs of the wildlife around you can seem like a huge task. This is simply not the case. Take the time and energy to research your area, and the benefits will emerge almost immediately. Then, simply sit one day, and enjoy the sights and sounds nature has to offer.

Happy Planting!

Good Drainage

When searching for information on planting any type of plant, there seems to be one special thing that they all need. Good drainage! No matter where or what you are planting, drainage, for the plants health and vitality is a must. Some plants thrive in full sun and some love the cool shade, but they all need to be free of standing water. From succulents that must be kept dry to tropical plants that love the moisture, maintaining a healthy level of water and dryness is the key to a thriving plant.


If you live in the perfect environment then plant away with no worries, but for the rest of us, soil amending can be an important step that should be taken seriously. A little work ahead of time can eliminate the headache of watching your plants suffer in soil they cannot grow in, or dying all together. Although all plants ask for good drainage, that can mean different things for different types of plants and landscapes.

Your first step to figuring out how to maximize your drainage and soil quality is to figure out what type of soil your landscape has. This can be accomplished by research online that includes getting your hands dirty eventually. There are also online services that offer to soil test for you, all they need is a sample mailed in. Once you have figured out your type, there are so many ways to work with it that there are no soils that can’t be conquered! Adding organic matter (decaying matter) can help with any kind of soil and can add or decrease moisture. You may need to add minerals depending on what your soil is lacking.  Sometimes shredded bark or peat moss is needed to amend the soil, and adding these can help plants establish. Compost and well rotted manure are also very beneficial to most plantings, but especially vegetables and Annual flowers. It really on depends on where you live and what the general area surrounding you is compromised of.

Soil amending, along with research on the plants that you include in your space, should get you on the right track for good drainage. Healthy plants will follow! There are always cases of trial and error, and mistakes will be made, along with plants lost. Drainage is not the only thing to consider either, so learning all you can before planting is essential. Preparation is one crucial step to ensuring long lasting, healthy, happy plants!

Happy Planting!