Vatochnik or Asklepias: tips for planting and care in the open field

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Vatochnik or Asklepias: tips for planting and care in the open field
Vatochnik or Asklepias: tips for planting and care in the open field

Description of the vatochnik plant, how to grow asklepias in a personal plot, recommendations for reproduction, difficulties encountered in leaving and ways to solve them, interesting notes, types and varieties.

Vatochnik (Asclepias) can be found under a name similar to its transliteration in Latin - Asklepias. This representative of the flora is included in the Apocynaceae family. The genus unites in itself more than two hundred species (today, according to the information provided by the Plant List database, there are 215 of them), with various vegetation forms. The native area of natural distribution covers South and North American lands. Despite the poisonous properties, it is customary to grow cotton wool in gardens and parks as a flowering plant.

Family names Kutrovye
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Herbaceous, semi-shrub and shrub
Breeds Seed and vegetative way
Open ground transplant terms At the beginning of summer
Landing rules Layout of seedlings 50x50 cm
Priming Nutritious loam
Soil acidity values, pH 5-6 (slightly acidic soil)
Illumination level Well lit place
Humidity level Frequent watering after planting, then only on dry days
Special care rules Top dressing is needed when grown in poor soil, pruning of wilted flowers is recommended
Height options 1-1, 2 m
Flowering period Summer or autumn
Type of inflorescences or flowers Multicolor umbellate inflorescences
Color of flowers Bright orange, orange-red, red, brown or sometimes yellow
Fruit type Seed capsule
The timing of fruit ripening Late summer or September
Decorative period Summer-autumn
Application in landscape design In group plantings, decorating flower beds and flower beds, for cutting
USDA zone 4–9

This representative of the flora received its Latin name thanks to the name of the god of medicine and healing, revered in ancient Greece - Asclepius, or as it is also called Aesculapius. This is because the plant has been used to treat many diseases.

In the genus, among the wadders, all species are perennials, taking a herbaceous, semi-shrub or shrub vegetation form. Also, plants can have both deciduous and evergreen crowns.


Milky juice, which is released when any part of the wart is injured, contains poisonous substances that contribute, like celandine, to the removal of warts. May cause skin irritation, especially when exposed to direct sunlight.

Basically, in asklepias, the stems reach a meter in height and can even exceed human growth. The color of the stems is green. In each internode, throughout the entire shoot, one or a pair of leaves unfold, positioning one against the other or in the form of whorls. In rare cases, they grow in succession. The leafy plates of the cottonwood are quite attractive, they are large in size and take on elongated, ovoid, oval or lanceolate outlines. Their color is deep green, and also on the upper side there is a pattern of light green veins. The reverse side of the foliage is covered with fleecy pubescence of a light tone, very much like felt.

There are species of Asclepias that grow in the form of beautifully flowering ornamental crops, when they bloom, they have a very strong honey scent around them, which serves to attract many insects, especially the brightly colored monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Blossoming in the fleece falls in the summer or autumn period, but it mainly begins in July and stretches until the end of August. Flowers are collected in multi-colored umbellate inflorescences. The size of the flowers is large. The color of the petals in the corolla takes on a bright orange, orange-red, red, brown or sometimes yellow tint. There are usually five petals. The flowers, which are heavily filled with nectar and pollen, are especially attractive in the wild for hummingbirds, monarch butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.

After decorative flowers, asklepias develops green fruits, represented by seed buds or capsules. When fully ripe, they rupture, exposing seeds with long silvery-white silky hairs, reminiscent of its "cousin", the common milkweed (Euphorbia waldsteinii). It is this kind of pubescence that served the Russian name of the genus. The length of the stems reaches 10 cm and the width is about 7 cm. These stems are excellent for use in dry flower arrangements. However, when cultivating cotton wool in mid-latitudes, where the climate is cooler, the seed material can rarely fully ripen, but if the area is with mild winters, then such plants actively reproduce by self-sowing.

The plant is quite interesting and, moreover, does not require much effort when growing, so even a novice gardener can cope with its leaving, only it is important not to violate the rules of agricultural technology below.

How to grow a fleece plant outdoors?

Vatochnik blooms
Vatochnik blooms
  1. Landing place it is recommended to select a well-lit one, since in the shade of flowering you can not wait. These fragrant shrubs should not be placed near buried groundwater or in lowlands.
  2. Priming when growing cotton wool, it is better to use loamy, rich in nutrients. Indicators of the acidity of the substrate are recommended in the pH range 5-6, that is, the soil should be slightly acidic.
  3. Landing cotton wool seedlings on a flower bed are performed at the beginning of the summer period. The planting pattern is maintained at about 50x50 cm. The hole is dug out so that an earthen ball with a root system fits into it. Watering is necessary after planting. Since some types of asklepias are malicious weeds and their shoots can grow up to a meter in length from the parent specimen, it is worthwhile to take care of limiting this process in advance. For planting, you can use a metal container (for example, an old bucket without a bottom). Old car tires will not work for this. In this case, the limiter should be driven in so that the side rises 5 cm above the soil surface. You can disguise the walls of the container with small boulders. At the same time, it is noted that in one place the bushes of cotton wool can grow well for about 15 years.
  4. Watering when caring for asklepias after the plant has been planted, it is carried out often until it takes root. But then moisture should be moderate and only during dry and hot days, all due to the fact that as the root system develops, it can itself provide the stems with a sufficient amount of moisture. Experienced gardeners advise using settled or collected rainwater for irrigation.
  5. Fertilizers when growing, the fleece should be used only if it was planted in a poor substrate. Then, with the arrival of spring, it is recommended to add potassium sulfate, as well as organic matter (for example, urea or compost), which will stimulate the growth of deciduous mass. Before the flowers bloom, complete mineral complexes such as Fertika or Kemira are used. After the flowering is completed, it is recommended to feed the asklepias bushes with nitrophos. If the planting was carried out in nutrient soil, then fertilizers can be omitted.
  6. Pruning when caring for the fleece, it is required to stimulate an additional flowering cycle. In this case, you need to remove the wilted flowers and after a month you can rejoice at the repeated wave.
  7. Asklepias transplant. Usually plants grow well in one place for more than a decade, but if it becomes necessary to change its location, it is better to combine this operation with dividing the bush. To do this, choose the time in spring days or in the second half of the summer period. For transplanting, a place is preliminarily prepared (the soil is dug up with the removal of weeds and remnants of roots). Before the actual movement, it is recommended to water the vatnik bush abundantly and only after that it is pierced around the perimeter with a shovel in order to less injure the root system and leave the soil on it. The plant is removed from the soil using a garden pitchfork and, trying not to destroy the earthen lump, is transferred to a hole in a new place. The initial care will be the same as the initial landing.
  8. Wintering of fleece. In order for the plant to calmly endure the winter months, it is recommended to provide it with shelter. Fallen leaves of trees, sawdust and crushed tree bark, as well as other organic materials (compost or peat chips) can be used as it. Before mulching the area where the asclepias grows, it is recommended to cut off all dried shoots, retreating from the soil surface to a height of 10 cm. These stems can also be suitable as a mulching layer.
  9. The use of cotton wool in landscape design. Since asklepias blooms for almost the entire summer period, it is possible to collect bouquets during this time. Long stems, crowned with inflorescences, stand in a vase for a long time and the flowers do not wither. In order to prevent the milky juice from flowing out, it is recommended to burn the ends of the shoots after cutting. When decorating a plot with cotton wool bushes, you should immediately decide on the type and variety, since they have different parameters of height and diameter. If you plan to plant a tuberose species (Asclepias tuberosa), then because of the bright orange hue of the inflorescences, the bushes will go well with some types of cereals, as well as lavender or sage. Varietal forms and the basic type of Syrian wadder (Asclepias syriaca) itself, then because of the high stems next to it, it is better to plant catnip and sloth or yarrow with meadowsweet. Basically, group plantings of asklepias are grafted in mixed flower beds. You can also plant such bushes in wastelands or in a neutral area that goes beyond the site. This will help to brighten the view from the garden. For shelter, which is not too presentable location or outbuildings (barn, restroom, etc.), species and varieties with high shoots can be used as a screen.

See also tips for growing periwinkle.

Recommendations for breeding cotton wool

Cotton wool in the ground
Cotton wool in the ground

To obtain new young plants of asklepias, seed or vegetative methods should be used. In the latter case, this includes rooting cuttings, dividing a bush, or depositing root suckers.

Reproduction of cotton wool by dividing the rhizome

For this operation, you should choose the time (as well as its transplant) in early spring or when the flowering is completely over. The asklepias bush must be dug around the perimeter and carefully removed from the ground (you can use a garden pitchfork). After that, lumps of soil are removed from its root system, and separation into parts is carried out using a sharpened knife. Each of the divisions should have not only a piece of root, but also one or more renewal buds. The sections are sprinkled with ash or charcoal powder to disinfect the seedlings. The planting of the plots is carried out immediately along the pre-prepared pits.

Such saplings of vatochnik quite easily take root and can please with flowering as early as next summer. When caring for the cuttings, it is required to carry out abundant watering, and only when the plants have a sufficiently strong root system, the moisture regime is brought to moderate.

Reproduction of cotton wool by cuttings

To do this, at the beginning of June, blanks are cut from young branches so that their length is not less than 15 cm. All leaves are removed from the bottom of the cuttings, and those that remain at the top are cut in half, so that active evaporation of moisture does not occur from them. After that, the lower edge of the workpiece is treated with any root formation stimulant (you can take heteroauxinic acid or Kornevin), after which it is planted in moistened river sand. The cuttings are covered with a plastic bottle, the bottom of which has been cut off. This will create the conditions for a mini-greenhouse.


Planting cuttings of cottonwood should be carried out very quickly so that milky juice does not flow out of them.

The rooting of planted asclepius blanks usually occurs after 20 days.

Reproduction of cotton wool using seeds

The biggest problem with this method is that the germination rate of the seed is rather low, and the flowering of plants obtained from seedlings will only be able to rejoice after three years. But there are exceptions here too - this is a species of tuberose vatnik (Asclepias tuberosa). Such plants are grown by seedlings. At the same time, it is recommended to sow the seeds in seedling boxes filled with peat-sandy substrate at the end of winter or at the beginning of March. The seating depth should be no more than 10-15 mm.

After that, the surface of the soil is sprayed from a finely dispersed spray gun with warm water. The container is covered with a plastic transparent film or a piece of glass is placed on top. The place where the seedling box with the asclepias crops is placed should be warm (with a temperature of 20-24 degrees) and well lit. When leaving, daily ventilation is needed to remove accumulated condensation from the shelter and if the soil is dry, it is moistened (about once every 2-3 days).

When the sprouts appear (and this can take a little more than two weeks), they begin to increase the daylight hours so that the seedlings do not stretch too much. For this, you can use special phytolamps. It is recommended to lower the temperature to 18 degrees. Only after the seedlings get stronger can the shelter be removed. After a pair of true leaves unfold on young asklepias, a dive is performed in individual pots. In them, a drainage layer should be laid on the bottom of such containers so that its thickness does not exceed 2–3 cm. The soil is used the same as for sowing seeds.


The first couple of days, after planting, the seedlings of cottonwood require shading so that they are not burned by direct sunlight.

As soon as the adaptation is completed and the plants take root, a pinch should be done to stimulate branching. Before planting, which is recommended at the beginning of summer, the seedlings are hardened for 14 days. To do this, containers with asclepius seedlings are taken out on a sunny day in the open air and left for 10-15 minutes. Every day, this time is increased until the seedlings spend the whole day outside. Such plants begin to bloom after 3-4 years from the moment of sowing.

Also, sowing of cotton wool seeds is performed directly in open ground with the arrival of spring, as soon as the soil is free of snow cover. Before sowing, the selected area must be dug up, the remnants of roots and weeds, as well as lumps of soil, must be removed, and then loosened. Grooves are formed on the bed, which moisturize well and then cover the seeds. A thin layer of the same substrate is poured over the seeds. It is better to make shallow holes in the soil, designed to moisten it, which is so necessary in the first 7 days from the moment of sowing. When sowing in dry soil, it is recommended to cover the bed with plastic wrap, this will stimulate the growth of seedlings.

Read also about the breeding of amsonia in the open field

Difficulties arising when caring for a fleece and ways to solve them

Cotton wool grows
Cotton wool grows

You can delight gardeners with the fact that, in general, the plant shows high resistance to both garden diseases and pests. However, when the weather is dry for a long time, it can suffer from attacks by the following insects:

  1. Whiteflyfeeding on cell sap. It is quite simple to see it, since when you touch the asklepias bush, whitish small flies soar upward, and when viewed on the leaves from the back side, there are many white dots (clutches of pest eggs).
  2. Spider mite, also sucking out nutritious juices, piercing the leaves of the fleece. You can recognize the presence of a harmful insect by yellowing foliage and a thin cobweb on the stems and leaf plates.

It is recommended to use both folk and chemical methods to fight the "uninvited guests" who appeared at the Asklepias. The first is wiping the leaf plates with soap-based solutions, the second involves treatment by spraying plantings with special insecticides. Such means are Aktara, Karbofos, Actellik or with a similar spectrum of action.

Problems with a cotton wool can arise if the weather is dry for a long time or the humidity in the room is reduced. Then the leaves begin to droop. To ensure comfortable conditions for the plant, it is recommended to spray the foliage crown with warm water from a fine spray gun in the evening hours.

Interesting notes about Asklepias

Blossoming of Vatochnik
Blossoming of Vatochnik

It was first mentioned in the fundamental work of the missionary from Spain Bernardino de Sahaguna (1500-1590) "General History of the Affairs of New Spain", written in 1547-1477. All the data and information about the medicinal use of the plant, which are described in this work, were gleaned from the stories of the local population - the Aztecs. The Indians used Asclepias powder to shrink tumors caused by bones being displaced. But there is no exact data in botany about this. Also, only in passing there are references to the fact that young shoots and flowers of the plant can be used in cooking: in salads or in candying.

The plant was introduced to Europe only in the 18th century as a technical culture, but due to its properties it was widespread. It is clear that the first thing that European gardeners paid attention to was the seeds of the fleece covered with pubescence of soft seed hairs. When the seedlings ripen, such hairs protrude from them effectively, as if they are stuffed with cotton wool. This became the idea of using a similar natural material for spinning.

However, it was not possible to obtain high-quality fabric from such fibers, but then the raw materials of the asklepias were mixed with woolen, cotton and silk thread and things went well. The fabrics that were made by means of such yarn were somewhat like cloth, flannel or even velvet. It is this period in Europe that can be called the "golden age" of vatnik. However, it turned out to be rather short. As practice has shown, the hairs of the fleece have increased fragility and when they are introduced into the composition of the yarn, the quality of the fabric also decreased.

Subsequently, the fibers obtained from the stems of askpepias were used for making ropes, for stuffing furniture or filling the insides of soft toys. The use of fibrous padding was stopped quite recently, as it was replaced by modern materials such as foam rubber and others. Later, the fleece was used for the production of film and other rescue equipment. However, when it became known about the properties of rubber obtained from milky juice (and they are much lower than that of Hevea), interest in raw materials from asclepius fell and now this representative of the flora is found exclusively in the form of a flowering ornamental plant.

If we talk about today, the essence obtained from cotton wool is used in homeopathy. For her, only the flowers of the plant are used. Warts can be removed with the help of milky juice. It is important to remember about the properties of this substance, which is secreted from the breaks of the stems, since the juice has a strong laxative effect, and if the stems or foliage of the willow tree are eaten by animals, then deaths are possible.

It has been noticed that such a species as Syrian cottonwood (Asclepias syriaca) is a malicious and hard-to-remove weed crop, rapidly spreading in the fields where agricultural plants are planted. If a gardener is engaged in the cultivation of this type of asklepias, then he is advised to take great care that his "ward" could not litter the nearby lands.

It is noted that, due to its fullness with nectar, vatnik is an excellent honey plant. If we take as a condition that a hectare will be planted with asklepsis, then it will be possible to get up to 600 kg of honey from it. Such a sweet product is characterized by high taste, has a white or light yellowish tint and a delicate fruity aroma. Usually, a little less than 1, 5 months are allotted for honey collection, which fall on the period of July-August. Bees climb over the plantings of such plants throughout the day.

Types and varieties of fleece

In the photo Vatochnik incarnate
In the photo Vatochnik incarnate

Incarnate vatnik (Asclepias incarnata),

occurring under the name Meat red cotton wool … In nature, the area of its distribution falls on the lands of the North American continent. The height of the shoots of the plant reaches about 1, 2 m, the bush is formed dense. The stems are completely covered with densely growing leaf plates that take on elongated oval or lanceolate outlines. Their surface is covered with hairy pubescence. The arrangement of the leaf plates is opposite.

This species blooms throughout July-August, and its duration is approximately 35 days. Umbrella inflorescences are formed from flowers, reaching 6 cm in diameter. The color of the flowers is pinkish-purple or reddish, which served as the specific name. The aroma of flowers is delicate and delicate when compared with the type of Syrian Asklepias (Asclepias syriaca). Also, the characteristics of aggressiveness in relation to other representatives of the flora are reduced.

This species began to be cultivated culturally in 1635, but the meat-red vatnik served for breeding a large number of varieties, among which the most spectacular are:

  • Ice Ballet or Ice balletnamed because of the snow-white color of the flowers in the umbrellas, the height of the stems is 100 cm;
  • Sinderella or Cinderellawith inflorescences of pink flowers with a delicate aroma similar to chocolate.
In the photo Tuberose Vatochnik
In the photo Tuberose Vatochnik

Tuberose cotton wool (Asclepias tuberosa)

also has other names - Tuberous cotton wool or Asklepias tuberose … Quite common in humid areas of the central and eastern United States, but rarely grows in the west, mainly spreading in the Four Corners states along roadsides and in areas with water. The height of the stems in this species ranges from 0.5–0.7 m. Flowers collected in umbrellas have an orange or bright yellowish-red color scheme. Flowering begins in mid-summer days and then throughout the fall. The species is characterized by frost resistance, but it is still required to provide shelter during cultivation if winter promises to be with severe frosts.

The greatest popularity among the varieties of tuberose vatnik is found in:

  • Gay Butterflies or Funny butterflies represented by a mixture of varieties characterized by yellow, red and orange colors, crowning the stems, reaching a height of 0.7 m.
  • Maharaja does not exceed the height of half a meter with the stems, the inflorescence has a bright orange tint.

Tuberose cotton wool and its varieties can be grown not only in open ground, but also in rooms.

In the photo Vatochnik Syrian
In the photo Vatochnik Syrian

Syrian cotton wool (Asclepias syriaca)

often found under the name Aesculapian herb … The native lands of this species are considered to be the eastern states of the North American territory. It is clear that the specific name "Syrian" is not clear here. But as it turned out that this representative of the flora was initially confused with a kendyr (Apocynum) or a puff, just the same being a native of Syria. When the error was clarified, the name of the species was not changed.

The height of this perennial is about 1.5 m. The stems grow erect and well leafy. The leaves of Syrian cottonwood are like leaf plates of rhododendrons that remain evergreen. The surface of the leaves is leathery, the color is dark green. Their length reaches about 15 cm and a width of about 7 cm. It happens that in July in the lower part of the plant the plant loses its foliage.

When flowering, the Syrian Asclepius forms inflorescences in the form of umbrellas. The diameter of flowers in full disclosure is 1 cm. Their petals are painted in a pale pink color scheme. Flowering starts in mid-summer, stretching for 35 days. The scent of the flowers is reminiscent of chocolate, and the scent is stronger than that of its meat-red counterpart.

In the photo Vatochnik kyurassavsky
In the photo Vatochnik kyurassavsky

Kurassavsky cotton wool (Asclepias curassavica)

also called Lastoven and is characterized by a rather long flowering period. The height of the shoots does not exceed 1 m. Flowers open in this species, both in spring and autumn days. The color of the inflorescences is reddish orange. It is important to remember that pollen can provoke irritation when it gets on the skin of a person. Cultivated as an annual or as a potted houseplant.

In the photo, Vatochnik is beautiful
In the photo, Vatochnik is beautiful

Nice cotton wool (Asclepias speciosa)

is a perennial. The height of its stems ranges from 30–70 cm. Their surface is covered with tomentose pubescence. The size of the leaves is large, there is a pointed tip at the top, the reverse side is also pubescent. The color of flowers in flat umbellate inflorescences takes on a greenish-purple color. Inflorescences can grow both on the tops of the shoots and in the upper leaf axils. Flowering time is in the second half of summer. The plant is moisture-loving and can be used in cutting.

Related article: How to grow and propagate a holarena plant

Video about growing cotton wool in open ground:

Photos of fleece:

Photo Vatochnik 1
Photo Vatochnik 1
Photo Vatochnik 2
Photo Vatochnik 2
Photo Vatochnik 3
Photo Vatochnik 3
Photo Vatochnik 4
Photo Vatochnik 4
Photo Vatochnik 5
Photo Vatochnik 5

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