There are a variety of ways unexpected plants can crop up in your garden, but often, you can thank the wind for it. If bees play a vital role in pollination, then wind plays a similar role when it comes to seed dispersal. Think of the dandelion, the bane of many gardeners’ existence. It has developed a perfect way of ensuring a next generation by encasing its seeds in balls of fluff. What the wind doesn’t carry away (or lawnmowers cut down and disperse), young children will happily blow into the air–all but guaranteeing a new crop of the ubiquitous yellow flowers right in the middle of your lawn, or your neighbors’.
The Butterfly Weed plant disperses seeds in a similar fashion, but its seeds reside in pods that dry out and then crack open, allowing the feathery parachutes to travel hither and yon (if the Milkweed Bugs that love the seeds and tissue of Butterfly Weed plants don’t get to all the seeds first…). Luckily, there are many, many seeds to go around. And then, it’s up to wind, luck, and Mother Nature. In the bottom two photos, the Butterfly Weed seed parachutes have gotten stuck on 1) a Verbena Bonariensis and 2) a spider web near our brick staircase. I hold out more hope for the former’s prospects than for the latter’s.