January 16, 2018

Dormant is not the Same as Dead!

Dormant is not the Same as Dead! – Bob Sussman

This time of year even in southern Calif. with pretty moderate temps. many of our Calif. natives go dormant. They die right back down to the ground just storing energy from the winter rains and waiting begin growing again at the end of winter. This is characteristic of all of our native milkweed plants. Milkweed is the food plant for monarch and queen butterfly caterpillars (an other things too) and the most common of these narrow leaf milkweed – Asclepias fascicularis does indeed die right back down to the ground.

We have large blocs of these at the nursery and many people do indeed wonder why we have so many dead plants that we are taking care of. However if you flip the pot- take the rootball out of the pot- you’ll see a really well developed roots system. You can plant them out just fine as well. That’s what you look for and that’s how you tell the difference between dormant and dead!

Here’s one of the blocs of dormant milkweed in 1-gallon pots at the nursery…..


If you flip the pot- take them out of the pot and look at the rootball they should look like this…


Note the nice well developed root system even though the plant is dormant!

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Featured Plant



Botanical Name

Iris germanica tb 'Breakers'

Common Name



Flower Color


Mature Size

30 tall × 24 wide

Climactic Requirements


Full Sun


Occasional / Moderate
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