I read the answer re: milkweed for butterflies. I have a much harder time trying to grow them, from seed-starting, to trying to keep the sucking aphids off every day. Your other grower stated he had grown "tons" of milkweed in Spring Hill, FL.
I spray regularly with soapy water, but that's not getting rid of enough in my butterfly garden. I have sandy soil, water, open sun exposure. What am I doing wrong? Thanks so much.
Hardiness Zone: 9a
By Phyllis from Clermont, FL
Another method to get rid of aphids on plants is by going the biological way. You can introduce beneficial predators of aphids such as wasps, ladybird beetles and syrphid fly larvae. These natural predators are effective in controlling the aphids effectively. While using chemical pesticides, confine the application only to the infected parts, so as to conserve the population of these aphid enemies. Act quickly at the first sight of aphids and you will control them before causing serious damage to the plants.
I live in Spring Hill, Fl and have tons of tropical milkweed. I plant the seeds sporadically throughout the entire year and therefore I always have some in bloom with the exception of Jan & Feb. I start planting the new seeds from the year before pods in February. Yes, they do get aphids but the monarch butterflies still lay their eggs on the plants which gives me plenty of caterpillars and then soon after chrysalis and then the beautiful monarch butterflies.
As soon as a few plants get 6 inches high I plant more seeds in front of it so I have continuous plants. Most of the plants are in partial sun as they seem to do better than in the hot Florida sun that we have. Sometimes I use a very heavy spray of water (put your spray nozzle on the "jet" setting) on the aphids and they fall right off but I ignore them because the butterflies are still going to come. Yes, they look nasty but I have learned that it is worth the ugly look in order to have the beautiful butterflies. I do not want to spray any chemicals in my flower gardens as I want the bees and the butterflies to visit me and not get sick.
Phyllis: I forgot to mention that the only reason I grow tropical milkweed is that they are a host plant for the monarch butterflies. The caterpillars are going to totally strip off every leaf from the plant so I don't care about the aphids. After all of the leaves are gone and the caterpillars have climbed my wooden fence and are tucked snug in their chrysalis I cut the plant down to about 8 inches off the ground and they start to grow all over again. You can do the same thing since you are only about 2 hours from me. The monarch butterflies like my zinnias, verbena and vincas also but those are not host plants.
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