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Support pollinators with milkweed types, like 'whorled,' 'swamp' and 'purple'

Clusters of small, light purple flowers on a slim green stem with green leaves.
Milkweed, or asclepias, flowers bloom and attract pollinators, like monarch butterflies. The common milkweed can be aggressive in gardens. Instead, try a type like purple milkweed or swamp milkweed.

Many gardeners know that milkweed is a great pollinator plant, especially for monarch butterflies. Monarchs use the flowers as a food source and also a place to lay their eggs. And the monarch larvae consume only milkweed as they grow and undergo metamorphosis, so it is essential!

Common milkweed, or asclepias syriaca, comes with cons as well as pros. Prolific in farm fields and on roadsides throughout the state, it can be aggressive once you introduce it into your garden.

Some good alternatives to the common milkweed can be just as beneficial to pollinator and less of a bully in your garden.

If you have a wetter section in your yard, try swamp milkweed. This one grows well in wet, and part-shade areas. Purple milkweed thrives in the shade, as well. And a perennial like whorled milkweed grows well in dry or sandy soil, is lower-growing and blooms with white flowers.

Butterfly weed, or asclepias tuberosa, is sometimes called a milkweed, though it has no milky, white sap in its stems. The plant grows clusters of bright orange flowers that the butterflies and pollinators also find irresistible.

A question about dead-heading clematis

Q: If I dead-head my clematis, will it rebloom? - Nancy, in Randolph

A: The result depends on what kind of clematis you have. If you dead-head — that's garden speak for removing an already-bloomed flower from a plant stem — the early-flowering clematis, it may rebloom. The large-flowered clematis bloom later in the season, so if you dead-head those, they tend to not have enough time to rebloom.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your written question via email, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.