Uprooted plant



My garden is located in northeast Scarborough with heavy clay. My question is about my swamp milkweed plant. The recent heavy rains seemed to have uprooted three of my swamp milkweed stems. Unfortunately most of the roots were still in the soil, only a few emerging roots remain on each of the stems, maybe 3 or 4 each. Is there any way I can salvage them? Should I put them in a container of water and wait until the roots have grown a little more to replant them? For now I just stuck it back in the wet clay soil. The stems are maybe 25- 30 inches tall. Any information and advice will be well appreciated!

Thank you!


Thanks for your question! The good news is that you have done exactly the right thing, putting the stems with remaining healthy roots back into place, assuming that they were still moist. If those roots were dried out, it would have been best to wet the roots before planting. However, if that was the case, don’t dig them up again, but do monitor the moisture level. The current heavy rain should do the trick.

The not-so-great news is that the plants may or may not survive, depending on how long it takes for them to get over the shock.

To make sure they aren’t uprooted again, try supporting them with with a small stake.

Do not fertilize them until they are showing strong growth. While they are struggling to reestablish themselves in the soil, they don’t need the stress of too much stimulant.

The plants may look pretty rough, for a few weeks, with leaves wilting and the plants drooping, while they are still in shock. Be patient and monitor the progress. New leaves forming will be the clue to success. They may never achieve full growth this season, but if they do perk up, you have a good chance that all will be well next year.

Now, I do wonder about the origin of the damage. You believe it was the heavy rains that uprooted the plants, but that would have meant quite a mudslide!

It occurs to me that an animal may have dug them up. Do you have raccoons and skunks in the neighbourhood? Both love to dig up gardens and lawns, looking for grubs.

If you think that might be the case, have a look at our response to a gardener dealing with grubs in the lawn.

Good luck with your young milkweed plants!

June 26, 2023

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