At our recent plant sale, we offered several varieties of Asclepias (a.k.a. milkweed), which many of you may know is the only food source for the caterpillars of the Monarch butterfly. Since the plight of the Monarch has become better known, more and more people have been adding milkweed to their gardens. To keep up with the demand for this plant at our sale, we asked a local nursery to supply us with what we needed to supplement what we grew ourselves.
It has just come to our attention that an employee at that nursery applied the pesticide Orthene on a nearby crop of daylilies, and the wind carried some of that product onto some of the milkweed that was subsequently sold at our plant sale. This insecticide will persist on the plant until about June 1st, and any caterpillar that feeds on the plant may not survive. Fortunately, the local Monarch population does not reach its peak until later in the summer.
Two types of milkweed were affected; Asclepias incarnata, and Asclepias incarnata ‘Ice Ballet’, both of which are also known as swamp milkweed. All other milkweed types sold at our plant sale are free from pesticides.
If you purchased one of these two milkweeds, please accept our apologies, and return them to the Norfolk Botanical Garden Gift Shop for a full refund. If you would rather keep the plants, we recommend cutting down the foliage, and by the time the plant re-sprouts, the pesticide will have dissipated to a safe level.
Director of Horticulture
Norfolk Botanical Garden