Flower Power: Asteraceae

Plants in the Asteraceae family include: lettuce, daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, asters, dandelions, goldenrod, coneflowers, thistles, artichokes, sunflowers, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias, asters, chamomile, chicory, sage, tarragon, ragweed, thistle, sagebrush, and yarrow.
Pollinator Web

If your looking to plant a lot of pollinator punch in your yard, the Asteraceae family acts as hosts to a wide variety of butterflies, including:

Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Common Checkered Skipper, Dainty Sulphur, Fiery Skipper, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Red Admiral, Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor

Commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, composite, or sunflower family, most species of Asteraceae are annualbiennial, or perennial herbaceous plants, but there are also shrubs, vines, and trees.

Nectar Powerhouse: Gregg’s Mistflower

Conoclinium greggii (A. Gray) Small

Gregg's Mistflower , Palmleaf Thoroughwort, Palm-leaf Mistflower, Palm-leaf Thoroughwort, Purple Palmleaf Mistflower, Purple Palmleaf Eupatorium
Pollinator Web

There is a groundcover species Conoclinium greggii, and a shrubby one, Chromolaena odorata; both have an alkaloid in their nectar that Monarchs and Queens use to attract mates. Add a host plant and let the party get started :-).

“If you were given the choice of only choosing one plant with the purpose of attracting butterflies, this would be the one. If there are butterflies in the area, any species of butterfly, they will be fluttering about on this plant, feeding on the nectar of the mistflower.” -Spadefoot Nursery

“The votes are in for 2020’s Unofficial Pollinator Plant of the Year, and the winner is…Gregg’s mistflower.” –Texas Butterfly Ranch

Acacias, Vachellia, Snegalia, Mariosousa, Acaciella, oh my!

Germinating Desert Milkweed

In December 2020 I started some Asclepias subulata seeds. They started germinating surprisingly quickly, and within a week seedlings were peaking above the peat pods. I recommend starting the seeds in March so the seedlings can go in the ground immediately; they don’t like their roots disturbed.

The great thing about Desert Milkweed seeds is that they don’t need any special treatment, like scarification or stratification, and the plants are very low maintenance!

How to Care for Native Milkweed

  1. Seedlings (in a black cone) can be planted in the ground or in a larger pot. Milkweeds in a 1-gallon pot can be planted in the ground.
  2. Dig the hole only as deep as the roots but twice as wide. Set the soil aside.
  3. Carefully remove the plant from the pot, trying not to disturb the roots too much.
  4. Place the plant in the hole and carefully replace the soil you set aside around the roots. Maintain the soil line (make sure the soil is up to the same point on the plant that it was when the plant was in the pot).
  5. Gently tamp down the soil around the roots. Add more soil if needed to maintain the soil line.
  6. Lightly water the plant until the soil is saturated. Use drip irrigation or turn the hose on so the water just trickles.
  7. Water deeply every day for about 1 week so the roots can get established. Then water every 4-5 days after that. For Asclepias angustifolia, water every 2-3 days. In the summer you can water at the same frequency but for a longer period of time during each watering.

Great Milkweed Grow Out

The Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden is helping Monarch and Queen butterflies with this initiative, with a focus on propagation, expanding Monarch habitat and finding the best native milkweeds to support Monarch and pollinator populations.

More Info

Milkweeds recommended by the Phoenix DBG:

  • Desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata)
  • Arizona milkweed (Asclepias angustifolia)
  • White stem milkweed (Asclepias albicans)
  • Antelope horns milkweed (Asclepias asperula)
  • Giant Sand milkweed (Asclepias erosa)
  • Pineneedle milkweed (Asclepias linaria)

The Importance of Birds

“You might already know about some of the ecosystem services birds provide, for instance pollinating your favorite fruits. Here are a few of the more surprising ways birds (metaphorically) keep the world turning.”

  • Bird poop is an important fertilizer
  • They move beneficial spores around
  • They distribute plant seeds
  • They’re pest predators
  • They’re nests create habitat
  • They reduce risk of disease

PW Blog

Welcome to the Pollinator Web blog! This blog focuses on pollinators and the cast of supporters, like host and nectar plants, as well as how to create your own patch of pollinator paradise.

As you explore this site, hover your mouse over titles, plant and insect names, and photo captions – many of them are linked to sites with additional information!

You can Comment and sign up for updates at the bottom of this page.

If you want to be notified of new blog posts:

  • Add a Comment (you can just say “Following”)
  • Complete the Name and Email fields
  • Check Notify me of new posts by email
  • Click Post Comment

You will receive an email asking you to confirm your subscription, please click Confirm now.


The Importance of Birds

“You might already know about some of the ecosystem services birds provide, for instance pollinating your favorite fruits. Here are a few of the more surprising ways birds (metaphorically) keep the world turning.”

  • Bird poop is an important fertilizer
  • They move beneficial spores around
  • They distribute plant seeds
  • They’re pest predators
  • Their nests create habitat
  • They reduce risk of disease

Chuparosa – For the Love of Hummingbirds

“If Arizona’s hummingbirds could vote on a state flower, it would be Chuparosa (Justicia californica).”

Given adequate water, Chuparosa will bloom year round. Also attracts butterflies and is the host plant for the Texan Crescentspot.

Chuparosa blossoms are a fun addition to salads, too, as they taste like cucumbers! 

Pollinator Stepping Stones

“Small patches can serve as stepping stones, allowing for species movement between large patches and are important in fragmented landscapes.”

Climate Change and Corridors

“Corridors may be of limited value for biodiversity if climate change occurs at a rate too fast to allow for migration and may end up just benefiting species that are highly mobile and adaptable, including invasive species.”

Connecting Pollinator Areas

In urban areas, development has fragmented pollinator resources. Homeowners, renters, businesses and governments can all contribute to connecting these resources with patches, corridors and stepping stones.


In December 2020 I started some A. subulata seeds. They started germinating surprisingly quickly, and within a week seedlings were peaking above the peat pods. I recommend starting the seeds in March so the seedlings can go in the ground immediately; they don’t like their roots disturbed.

On a cold November day in 2020, I moved a Queen caterpillar indoors to save it from nighttime freezing temperatures. It was feeding on A. subulata (Desert Milkweed), so I replenished a stock of stems and flowers daily…

The next day the caterpillar became a chrysalis. Nine days later the chrysalis turned dark burgundy, and the following day a Queen was born.

Conoclinium greggii (A. Gray) Small

Gregg's Mistflower , Palmleaf Thoroughwort, Palm-leaf Mistflower, Palm-leaf Thoroughwort, Purple Palmleaf Mistflower, Purple Palmleaf Eupatorium
Pollinator Web

Nectar Powerhouse: Gregg’s Mistflower

There is a groundcover species Conoclinium greggii, and a shrubby one, Chromolaena odorata; both have an alkaloid in their nectar that Monarchs and Queens use to attract mates. Add a host plant and let the party get started :-).

“If you were given the choice of only choosing one plant with the purpose of attracting butterflies, this would be the one. If there are butterflies in the area, any species of butterfly, they will be fluttering about on this plant, feeding on the nectar of the mistflower.” -Spadefoot Nursery

“The votes are in for 2020’s Unofficial Pollinator Plant of the Year, and the winner is…Gregg’s mistflower.” –Texas Butterfly Ranch

Plants in the Asteraceae family include: lettuce, daisies, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, asters, dandelions, goldenrod, coneflowers, thistles, artichokes, sunflowers, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias, asters, chamomile, chicory, sage, tarragon, ragweed, thistle, sagebrush, and yarrow.
Pollinator Web

Flower Power: Asteraceae

If your looking to plant a lot of pollinator punch in your yard, this family acts as hosts to a wide variety of butterflies, including:

Cabbage White, Common Buckeye, Common Checkered Skipper, Dainty Sulphur, Fiery Skipper, Painted Lady, Pearl Crescent, Red Admiral, Hackberry Emperor, Tawny Emperor

Commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, composite, or sunflower family, most species of Asteraceae are annualbiennial, or perennial herbaceous plants, but there are also shrubs, vines, and trees.

Lynne's Legacy Texas Sage
Pollinator Web

Lynne’s Legacy Texas Sage

Nectar plant, and host plant for the Calleta Silkmoth and Theona Checkerspot

Tree and Shrub Troubles
greenfly, blackly, caterpillars, canker, vine weevil, leaf spot, leaf miner, galls, fungus
Pollinator Web
Black Spine Prickly Pear
Pollinator Web

Black Spine Prickly Pear

Great nectar plant for native bees

Queen butterfly on A. subulata (Desert Milkweed)

Phoenix Desert Botanical Gardens

In Phoenix, Asclepias subulata (Desert Milkweed) is especially well adapted

Monarch butterfly, chrysalis, caterpillar
Pollinator Web

Monarch

December 24, 2021

Host Plant: Milkweed

Nectar Plants: Wide variety

Queen butterfly, chrysalis, caterpillar
Pollinator Web

Queen

December 24, 2021

Host Plant: Milkweed

Nectar Plants: Wide variety



Related Posts