‘Monarch Promise’ milkweed (Asclepias)

The weather is getting a bit more “winter-like” with dipping temperatures and some colder evenings.  Another warm spell will arrive this weekend but the next seven days look pretty good for running our Holiday Light Show (HLS).  We anticipate big crowds for this event (4 pm – 8 pm) and recommend folks consider purchasing tickets in advance (rotarygardens.wpengine.com for information).  The bus shuttle from the Dawson Field parking lot west of the gardens will be in operation over the next seven nights as well.  Big John and Bob K. were out working on some HLS tasks in the gardens including one more power upgrade in an area that we’re concerned about recently.  Our indoor volunteers included Dr. Gredler (painting), Ron P. (lights testing and repair), Ron Y. (seal coating a bench) and Dave, Jim and Vern continued with some other carpentry projects.  Maury was in for some errands and Dick H. was around to help as well.  We also saw Mark S., Bill O., Rollie, Dick P., Dr. Yahr, Bill F., Gary and many others including a nice visit from Larry Olsen.
This past summer I stumbled upon this new, variegated milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) called ‘Monarch Promise’.  I was amazed by the foliage alone and these photos (all mine) show just the start of the vivid summer blossoms.  This species is an annual milkweed but will have value for monarchs as a larval food plant with mother monarch laying eggs on the underside of the leaves and the developing caterpillars will nibble on the leaves.  The flowers are also attractive to a wide range of pollinators including monarchs.  Most folks have heard of the correlation between the health of monarch populations and the availability of milkweed.  The ornamental attributes of this plant with green and white leaves that are tinged with orange and pink may attract more gardeners to include this plant in the sunny portions of their garden or container.  Reaching 30″ tall, this annual has a long period of summer bloom and if kept happy with adequate moisture, will thrive in most garden settings.  Keep an eye out for aphids as they love the foliage of all milkweeds (Asclepias).  ‘Monarch Promise’ should be available at independent garden centers in 2016.  The monarch photos interspersed throughout the blog were from our excellent photographers of Marsha Mood, Santos McGill and Ken Tapp.












neat public piano in downtown Fort Collins, CO this summer!