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If you want to participate in helping to reverse the dramatic decline of Monarch Butterflies you should be planting Milkweed, like right now!
These beautiful butterflies rely on milkweed to lay their eggs upon. Sadly, habitats that naturally support monarchs are becoming fewer in number each year. New urban development & chemically treated "big agriculture" are destroying habitats of milkweed all over the United States.
- Bright orange flowers.
- Extremely attractive.
- Can reach up to 2' feet tall.
- Sow in early January for first year blooms.
Pregnant women were bathed in an infusion of it; a lotion of it was used as a skin cleanser; and it was used medicinally as a blood purifier.
It was also claimed to be useful as a digestive aid, for lowering high blood pressure, and, infused with vinegar, for curing hiccups
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A Monarch butterfly feeding on nectar from a milkweed. Photo by: Catherine Avilez / Shutterstock. Never judge a plant by its name. That’s certainly the case with milkweed, a lovely wildflower that isn’t really a weed at all. This tough denizen of North American fields, wetlands, and prairies is the sole host plant for the struggling monarch butterfly.
“Not only are the flowers beautiful, but fragrances waft by and bees are buzzing around (grow organic vegetables). And you might see a monarch butterfly perched on a flower or find one of its caterpillars grazing the leaves.” Milkweed Basics Growing Milkweed Milkweed Care Milkweed Pictures Using Milkweed in the Garden Where to Find Milkweed Milkweeds (Asclepias) get their name from the sticky white sap that oozes from the leaves when they are damaged.
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and Canada. Many have adapted to different regions of the country and a wide range of climates and terrains, from deserts and rocky areas to marshes and open prairies. Some species grow exclusively in specific regions while others will thrive in just about any habitat. Three species of milkweed are good all-around choices for gardens in most regions of the country: common milkweed (A.
incarnata), and butterfly weed (A. tuberosa) - gardening. The last two are highly ornamental and available in a variety of cultivars. To help sustain monarchs and other butterflies, you should plant at least a few milkweed species that are native to your area. Download this milkweed information sheet from Monarch Joint Venture for regional recommendations.
They grow in clusters of five nectar cups, each with incurved horns above the petals. When an insect lands on a flower, its feet slip between the cups and the pollen sacs attach themselves to the legs. When the insect moves to the next flower, the horns collect the pollen.
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In the fall, these proficient self-sowers split open to release hundreds of seeds borne on silken parachutes. 2 to 5 feet, depending on the species 3-9 Milkweed is both a food source and a host plant on which the monarch lays its eggs, depositing them on the underside of the leaves.
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Frequent visitors include native bees, honey bees, many other types of butterflies, and hummingbirds. Read more about the best perennials for pollinators. Most milkweeds require full sun (at least 6 to 8 hours a day) - Read more. Because they self-seed readily, locate your plants in a part of the garden where you can better control their rampant spread, such as at the back of the border or in a corner.
It's important to note that milkweed plants have a taproot and do not transplant well. If you’re planting milkweed from seed, sow the seeds outdoors in the fall, which will give them the period of stratification (exposure to cold, moist conditions) they need to encourage spring germination and ensure a good display of flowers the following summer.
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The best soil type for milkweed often depends on its native habitat. Most varieties are extremely forgiving and will grow well in average garden soil. Swamp milkweed is an exception and requires moist, humus-rich soil. To ensure successful germination of milkweed seeds, plant them in a smooth, clump-free soil bed worked to a fine consistency using a rake or rototiller.
Keep the planting bed moist until the seedlings become established. As your plants begin to take off, thin out any plants that are spaced too closely together so they don’t compete for sun and soil nutrients. To attract multitudes of monarchs to your garden, plant milkweed in groups of six or more, spacing plants or thinning seedlings to about 6 to 24 inches apart, depending on the species.
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Plant as many plants as you have room for,” recommends Kelly Ballard of Joyful Butterfly, a supplier of butterfly plants and seeds. Many milkweed species can readily be grown from root or rhizome cuttings as well as by seed. Take the cuttings during the late fall or early spring when the plant is dormant and has more energy reserves.
Like most wildflowers, milkweed is easy to grow and requires very little pampering. Most species are not seriously bothered by heat, drought, deer or other pests - growfoodguide.com. And because milkweed is a native plant that tolerates poor soils, fertilization isn’t necessary. You can mulch milkweed if you want to control weeds or retain moisture, but not all varieties will benefit.
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If you don’t want milkweed to take charge of your garden, remove the seed pods in the fall before they split open and release their contents or tie them closed with string. For plants with rhizomes, thin them out by hand by pulling the entire plant, including the roots, removing as much of the rhizome as possible. growfoodguide.com.
Be aware that the toxic alkaloids in the sap of milkweed that help protect the monarchs from predators can cause eye and skin irritation and are poisonous to pets and other animals when ingested. Take the appropriate precautions and wear gloves, long sleeves, and long pants when working with these plants.
Swipe to view slides Photo by: Maxal Tamor / Shutterstock. This native of swamps, marshes, and wet meadowlands will thrive in gardens soils that are consistently moist or soggy, but will also fare well in well-drained sites if kept watered. It’s also better behaved than common milkweed because the roots are self-contained and not inclined to spread.
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3 to 5 feet July to August 'Cinderella' (deep pink with white centers), 'Ice Ballet' (bright white), and 'Soulmate' (cherry pink with white centers) Photo by: helga_sm / Shutterstock. This showy cousin of milkweed is one of the most ornamental varieties, featuring clusters of vibrant orange flowers. The blooms are perched atop the ends of the stalks so they are on prominent display even if your plants are located at the back of a flower bed. gardening.
At about 2 feet tall and wide, it is a very usable size in the garden,” says Mason. 2 to 3 feet July to September ‘Hello Yellow’, ‘Western Gold Mix’ (golden-orange), and ‘Gay Butterflies’ (a mix of orange, red and yellow). Photo by: Randy Bjorklund / Shutterstock. Showy milkweed is the western counterpart of common milkweed and is native to the western half of the U.S.
Like common milkweed, it spreads by rhizomes as well as by seed, so it may be a bit too aggressive for formal perennial beds. However, this species clearly earns its name when in bloom. “The flowers look like an explosion of stars and are fragrant. They are quite pretty set against the silvery-green foliage,” says Ballard.
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Large pale pink to pinkish purple flower clusters up to 3 inches across provide a plentiful nectar source for a variety of butterflies. The leaves are also distinctive, broad and oblong with attractive rose-pink midribs. 2 to 3 feet June to August Photo by: MaryAnne Campbell / Shutterstock. This early-blooming variety is one of the main host plants for spring-breeding monarchs in the South Central U.S.
The flowers are a beguiling blend of greenish-yellow petals accented by purple hoods. Also called green antelope horn because of its curved green seedpods that resemble the horns of an antelope. 1 to 2 feet May to July Photo by: Ross Frid / Alamy Stock Photo (growfoodguide). Often found growing in dappled sunlight along paths in woodlands and woodland borders, this is one of the few milkweeds suitable for planting in a partially shaded garden.
3 to 5 feet June to August Create a stylized prairie garden by planting milkweed along with other rugged sun-loving native plants such as goldenrod, Arkansas blue star, prairie dropseed, and black-eyed Susan. Plant swamp milkweed along with other water-loving plants in a pond or rain garden. For an eye-catching contrast, pair the vibrant orange flowers of butterfly weed with blue, lavender, or rose-colored flowering perennials such as asters, Joe Pye weed, balloon flower, and meadow sage (Salvia nemerosa 'Caradonna').
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(See Top Perennial Plants for a Butterfly Garden.) Plant a native wildflower habitat from seed by combining milkweed with other plants that can provide a continuous source of pollen and nectar throughout the growing season. Download this step-by-step guide from The Xerces Society. You can often buy milkweed seeds at garden centers year-round, but you’ll generally find starter plants for sale only during the spring and summer months.
Seeds are usually easier to come by, especially if you have friends or neighbors who grow milkweed. Here are some tips from Monarch Butterfly Garden for harvesting your own milkweed seeds Online resources for milkweed plants and seeds include: .
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In certain situations, aphids or whitefly can overrun your milkweed plants. Use a jet of water to hose them off. When you spray, be sure to avoid any clusters of Monarch eggs that are growing on the affected plants. Move any Monarch larvae that have already hatched to a clean place before spraying..
Monarch butterflies are amazing creatures. These strikingly colored, orange, white and black butterflies migrate up to three thousand miles every year in the fall to spend the winter roosting in large groups in areas where weather conditions are cool but remain above freezing; then they turn around and fly the same distance back to their summer breeding grounds in North America in the spring.
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Unfortunately, these beautiful butterflies are in trouble. Over the past twenty years, monarch populations have declined by over 90%. The biggest threat to the monarchs is loss of habitat. Logging of Mexican forests has reduced the extent of the butterflies’ overwintering sites, and in this country, modern agricultural practices and urban and suburban development have led to loss of important grasslands habitat and a sharp decline in the number of milkweed plants that are vital for monarch reproduction.
A monarch begins its life cycle as an egg laid on a milkweed plant, which hatches out into an eye-catching caterpillar adorned with bright yellow, black and white stripes. This caterpillar feeds exclusively on milkweed plants before changing into a chrysalis, to emerge 10-14 days later as an adult butterfly (growfoodguide).
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While the adult butterflies feed on the nectar from milkweed flowers, they also feed on nectar from a wide variety of other flowers, which provides them with energy they need to fuel their long migratory flights. growfoodguide.com. How can you help the beleaguered monarch butterfly? You can plant milkweed in your own garden and landscape and encourage your neighbors and community to plant milkweed as well, not only in gardens, but in parks, wildflower meadows, along roadways, in natural areas, and on farmlands.
While some are wildlings that are best suited to more naturalized landscape areas, there are some species of milkweed that fit nicely into more manicured garden areas. Butterfly WeedOne of the best garden additions is butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). This easy care perennial will liven up your garden with large, flat-topped clusters of bright orange flowers all summer long on 1-3 foot tall plants.
Butterfly weed is adapted to USDA Zones 4-9. Swamp MilkweedSwamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) grows naturally in swamps (hence the name), but it also does well in garden settings in full sun, adapting well to soils with average moisture. A native of the eastern U.S., this milkweed is a robust plant reaching 3-5 feet tall and producing clusters of fragrant pink or mauve flowers through the summer.
‘Ice Ballet’ is a white flowered cultivar. Swamp milkweed is adapted to USDA Zones 3-9. Both butterfly weed and swamp milkweed are easily grown from seed, and are the two species most commonly offered as plants in the perennials section of garden centers and nurseries, as they are the species most adaptable to general garden culture.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is one of the most familiar, growing natively in most of the eastern and central U.S. and Canada, but other species are found in just about every region of the country. Here are suggestions for a dozen of the most ornamental native milkweeds from the National Wildlife Federation.
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Don’t use pesticides harmful to butterflies and their caterpillars in your gardens and landscape. Support actions to protect native grasslands. Encourage habitat restoration with community-wide plantings of wildlife corridors that include native milkweeds and nectar-producing plants. Support organizations that are working to help monarch butterflies, including Monarch Watch, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife Program.
I’ve caught the milkweed bug. It all started with an accidental visit to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica airport. They had planted milkweed outside the building, 18+ plants by my count, and there were TONS of monarch larvae, with lines of chrysalises along the building’s siding.
I wanted a milkweed patch at my place! I’d heard some controversy about milkweeds, that we shouldn’t be planting Tropical Milkweed, but I wasn’t sure. The catch was, what kind of milkweed should I plant? “Planting milkweed” seemed to be an obvious solution. But then things got a bit more complex.
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For our area: pink & white flowers = GOODyellow & orange flowers = bad The Tropical Milkweed is the one you’ll usually see at Armstrong and other chain nurseries. It has yellow/orange flowers. DON’T plant that one in Southern California. Tropical Milkweed acts as a perennial in our area, it doesn’t go dormant - growfoodguide.
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The problem is, often when plants are hybridized, it decreases their nectar-yielding abilities. I don’t know if this is happening with A. tuberosa. Much better, I think, to grow the California natives here. Asclepias speciosa – This California native has beautiful pinkish flowers. However its natural range is in Central and Northern California.
There are several California native milkweeds, which are the ones we should be planting. All of these seem to have pink, pinkish, or white flowers - growfoodguide. For Los Angeles and Southern California, consider the following. YES, PLANT THESE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA… Asclepias californica – deep pinkish/magenta-ish flowers Asclepias eriocarpa – creamy-white flowers and broad leaves.
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Asclepias fascicularis – white flowers and narrow leaves. aka Narrow-leaved milkweed. Asclepias vestita – creamy flowers and broad leaves. aka Wooly milkweed. According to the Xerces Society, L.A. is at the southern tip of the range for this plant. If you live in Orange County,Riverside, San Diego, etc. I suggest you choose one of the others.
Not for L.A., but if you’re in San Diego, try planting this one. CalFlora shows its native range as the southeastern portion of California. Remember that monarchs are more likely to be attracted to your milkweed patch if you plant a clump of milkweeds together in a grouping, rather than a single milkweed plant.
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But the adult monarchs need nectar plants. Ideas for your Southern California gardens include California native asters, California native lobelias, Cleome, ceanothus, manzanita, baccharis, and black sage. more here You really can help! It takes time and effort to grow milkweed from seeds. And raising seeds is something you can do inside an apartment! You could get some seeds of California native milkweeds, grow them into transplant size, and gift them to friends who have garden space, or gift them to schools and community gardens.
International Garden Center in El Segundo carries A. vegetable. fascicularis in one gallon pots. (at least they had it in Sep 2019) They also stock the tropical kind too, so avoid those tell-tale yellow/orange flowers. If you plant the native varieties in late summer (which is when nurseries seem to stock it), when the weather grows cold you can expect it to die back into its rootstock, the way your bulbing flowers like narcissus would.
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When do you plant those seeds? According to Theodore Payne Foundation, wait until the weather warms up in March – here are their instructions. (with color photos of the above-mentioned plants) A guide to common milkweeds of California, Xerces Society (pdf) Monarch plant list – Coastal Calif, Xerces Society (pdf) some tips on starting milkweed seeds, including good descriptions of stratification, heat shocking, and scarification Post updated Sep 12, 2019 with additional sources of native milkweed.
Propagation: Growing native milkweeds to build habitatExpanding Monarch Habitat: Planting habitat and milkweed at schools and community centersMilkweed Research: Finding the best native milkweeds to support monarch and pollinator populationsMilkweed (genus Asclepias) is the only plant that monarch butterflies can lay their eggs on and that caterpillars can eat. Without milkweed, monarchs will not survive.In the United States, loss of milkweed habitat is a major factor in the decline of the monarchs.
With over 140 known species of Asclepias, only 30 nurture the monarchs. They include A. tuberosa (“orange milkweed”), the sweetly fragrant, pink A. syriaca (“common milkweed”) and A. californica (“California milkweed”), with its fuzzy stalks and leaves. Avoid the similar genus Cynanchum (“swallow-worts”), which fool monarchs into laying eggs on them that will never develop.
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Our friends at Native American Seed have been working for years on the best way to get persnickety Texas native milkweed seeds to germinate. “Native milkweeds simply don’t do well in containers,” said George Cates, seed wrangler at the seed farm and land restoration company in the Hill Country town of Junction (growfoodguide).
So what’s the solution to getting native milkweeds into our landscape? Start with seeds (growfoodguide.com).The process has been perfected by Cates, who has germinated thousands of seeds in the last year for Native American Seed‘s customers and the Xerces Society. Read a report about the project and the status of native Texas milkweed seed production here.
Otherwise, mold can grow in the vermiculite and damage the seeds.1. Mix seeds with pre-chilled distilled water and let soak for 24 hours in the fridge.2. After 24 hours, pour seeds into strainer and rinse with distilled water.3. Moisten vermiculite with distilled water, the exact quantity required varies with different media, moist but not dripping is best.4.
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When the seeds are moved from the cold darkness of the refrigerator to the bright light and warmth of the sun, they are “shocked” into sprouting. “The stratification process is meant to mimic nature,” he said, adding that the plants likely developed this dormancy strategy as an answer to drought conditions.Good luck with your milkweed seeds and let us know how it goes!Like what you’re reading? Follow butterfly and native plant news at the Texas Butterfly Ranch.
Milkweed does contain toxins that can be harmful to pets, livestock and people. The milky sap for which it gets its name leaks out from the stem or leaves. growfoodguide. This sap contains toxins called cardiac glycosides or cardenolides, which are toxic to animals .“Animals usually do not eat milkweed unless good forage is scarce or under conditions where plants freeze, etc.
The truth is…most animals won’t eat it because of the taste, and here are some tips for handling milkweed if you’re hesitant.Wash your hands and use gardening gloves like you would any other plant.Be careful to not include it in the hay of grazing animals and make sure there is always plenty of other food for them to forage.Know that your pets will likely avoid it, but if you’re nervous, research the milkweed species you plant to see toxicity levels.Take steps to prevent accidental ingestion, such as instructing children that the plant is poisonous and to avoid any contact with their eyes after touching the plant.Monarch on milkweed by Tom Koerner, USFWSAll in all, planting milkweed is a sure way to help .
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by David Salman Monarch Butterfly on Common Milkweed (Asclepias syrica) WASHINGTON — The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies released today shows a modest population rebound from last year’s lowest-ever count of 34 million butterflies, but is still the second lowest population count since surveys began in 1993. But the 56.5 million monarchs currently gathered in Mexico for the winter still represents a population decline of 82 percent from the 20-year average — and a decline of 95 percent from the population highs in the mid-1990s.
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The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup and other herbicides with the same active ingredient (glyphosate) with Roundup Ready crops has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in Midwest corn and soybean fields. In the past 20 years it is estimated that these once-common, iconic orange-and-black butterflies may have lost more than 165 million acres of habitat — an area about the size of Texas — including nearly a third of their summer breeding grounds.Press release from the Xerces Society January 27, 2015.
As American agribusiness continues it to expand the development and use of GMO, herbicide and pesticide intensive crops, we are now seeing its direct effects on the health of our natural world and the creatures that live in it. Let's not let the Monarch become the next passenger pigeon, whose vast numbers once darkened the sky when huge flocks would fly overhead. growfoodguide.
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Neil Diboll, founder of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin, and a pioneer of prairie restoration says this about seeding Asclepias: "Seeds of all the members of the genus Asclepias that I have worked with benefit from a 30 day Moist Stratification period to break seed dormancy. The seeds germinate best under warm soil conditions.
(Fall planting after frost will provide necessary cold stratification.) All species (A. tuberosa, A. syriaca, A. sullivantii, A. incarnata) will also germinate moderately well when seeded into warm ground in mid to late spring with only Dry Stratification treatment." Seeds can be moist stratified by mixing seed with moist (not soggy) sand in a zip-lock plastic bag and placed in the refrigerator for 30 days.
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Dry stratification is done by placing dry seed in the refrigerator for 30 or more days. Read more. With exception of Orange Butterfly Weed, the other four species transplant readily as actively growing or dormant plants. Orange Butterfly Weed on the other hand has a deep growing tap-root and is much more finicky about the soil in which it prefers to grow.
Clay form is a unique strain originally found growing in a clay field near Madison, WI where it was rescued from impending construction project. The original plant found its way into the capable hands of Neil Diboll who propagated this unique find and introduced into cultivation. Lauren Springer Ogden, renowned author, gardener and landscape designer recommends that Orange Butterfly Weed be transplanted before the heat of summer (April-May) or in the fall.
She also points out that this species is "highly soil-specific depending on the strain you grow". Lauren also relates that the plants are susceptible to pill bugs. "They will chew where the root meets the crown. And they love warm moist conditions" - vegetable. Another reason to not wait to plant in the heat of summer and not to mulch.
Orange Butterfly Weed is also sensitive to growing in damp soil, especially after transplanting. Yellow, chlorotic foliage is usually an indication of over-watering. I recommend that new transplants be watered thoroughly after the initial planting. After the initial watering, wait until the plant begins to wilt slight before watering thoroughly again.
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Once established, which happens in a few months, the plants may not need much additional water unless conditions are hot and dry. For those of us with drip systems, be sure to place the emitter off to the side of the planting hole so the roots won't sit in overly wet soil (grow organic vegetables).
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MILKWEED SAFETY is a topic of concern for everyone and it is important to know the dangers inherent in any activity so they can be avoided completely. We have distributed tens of millions of milkweed seeds and over one hundred thousand milkweed plants during our twelve plus years of supplying North America with this resource to help preserve and strengthen the Annual Monarch Migration.
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Please read the entire safety section and please share the knowledge. Milkweed was named after the milky sap which contains latex, its scientific name Asclepias is the name of the greek god of healing due to Milkweed's many medicinal uses. There are over 160 different types of Milkweed a few are toxic MOST ARE NOT.
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Their paper states that animals would avoid this weed and this type is the most dangerous. "Whorled Milkweed" is not one we would ever promote or distribute (gardening). As stated previously NOT ALL MILKWEED IS THE SAME. Some is very toxic and some can be dangerous under certain extreme circumstances. The facts of this paper state that while typically avoided, silage ( Cut plants fed to livestock ) pose a threat as the animals have no choice but to eat what is provided if no other suitable grazing is available.
Our farm is covered by milkweed and we have fed, goats, chickens, dogs, deer, turkeys, rabbits and all sorts of critters that graze in open pens or open bottom cages. We plant grass and all sorts of ground cover for them to eat. In every case where a cage has been left over an area too long every blade of grass and all weeds except milkweed have been completely eaten.
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Milkweed is sold in Africa as a Natural medicine to promote the cleansing of ones stomach by removal of harmful contents. Milkweed is also used as a food if boiled several times with changed water much like acorns that have a bad taste. There are many valid reasons to grow milkweed especially if you care about the Monarch and Queen butterflies.
The natural floss from milkweed being used as supplied to the War effort of WWI by thousands of patriotic Americans many of whom were given milkweed seeds to plant by Gov officials for this purpose was a source of competition. A campaign to "educate" local Government officials about the dangers of milkweed was funded and did alter the distribution of seeds and their classification.
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This is a real concern if you plan to cut milkweed. Hands must be washed with soap and never allowed to wipe the face or eyes. Milkweed sap is much like the juices of a hot pepper that overtime create a slow burning sensation. Gently washing hands without soap may not remove all residue and if any residue enters the eye it will take a minimum of 30 minutes to repeatedly flush the eye with clean water before relief is long term.
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It is much like a hot pepper in that you will feel the heat for up to an hour and it is only by another rinse that you will feel relief. Do not use any drops or medications just clean water and continue to rinse every time you feel the returning heat.
Stay calm and continue the washing until the sensation has completely stopped and you will be fine. Plants are all around us and there are numerous ones that should be feared by parents of young children and pets. Azalea, Lantana, Oleander, Rhodendrion, Sago Palm, Caladium or elephant ear is highly toxic and all are dangerous found all over they pose an actual threat.
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Another plant that was reported to poison and kill children is the pointsettia but this has been proven to me a myth started in 1919 and recently proven that its only threat is the same latex as found in the Milkweed and similar reported skin / eye irritations and vomiting if parts of the plant are ingested.
I hear about the dangers of killer pointsettias every winter as they are sold by the millions. 22,793 cases of kids eating this pointsettias we found in Google in 30 seconds and after searching the internet for an hour and calling local hospitals we can find no incidence or study of any cases of kids eating milkweed.
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We get questions about Milkweed safety weekly and there seems to be more internet "reports" lately designed to warn and scare people from planting milkweed. We agree that everyone should know the dangers inherent in any activity so they can be avoided completely but we are not supportive of fear based warnings without the full explanation of why and how a material or activity was deemed dangerous (grow organic vegetables).
We hope to provide the education that Monarchs are part of a Natural world and circle of life in which dangers exist and it is our shared responsibility to prepare, protect, and promote the knowledge of their needs and our place in their world.
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There are 140 species of milkweed, but only a quarter of them are known to be important host plants for monarchs and even less are available commercially for planting. When you think about it, it’s rather remarkable how a butterfly can spot a single milkweed from the sky. She lands on it, scratches it with her front legs, tastes it with her feet, and confirms that it’s indeed milkweed.
This is because monarch caterpillars depend on the plant for food, eating every leaf in their path until they complete their metamorphosis (a cycle that takes about four weeks). Unlike adult monarchs (butterflies), caterpillars cannot simply feed on any plant they please. And that might lead you to wonder: why milkweed? Perhaps it’s by natural design: The chemical compounds in the plant make the caterpillars toxic to potential predators (such as birds), with the sap of certain species of milkweed being more toxic than others.
They spend up to two weeks eating, growing, and molting on the same milkweed plant before they pupate - growfoodguide.com. The striking appearance of the butterflies and caterpillars also serves as a warning to predators that they are toxic. Predators learn to associate the colors and patterns with a bad taste and generally avoid preying on monarchs altogether.
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It’s no accident that common milkweed is called as such because of its invasiveness as a weed! But loss of habitat is only one part of the problem — also to blame are climate change, drought, and disease, the culprits responsible for not only the decimation of milkweed, but also nectar sources for adult monarchs.
Showy annuals like zinnias and phlox are attractive to butterflies (as well as other pollinators like bees and hummingbirds). Growing a good variety of flowers helps sustain all the beneficial insects, adds beauty to your yard, and contributes to the overall health of the local ecosystem. Equally important are perennials, especially native perennials like echinacea (coneflowers) and coreopsis, that can provide a constant and reliable source of food.
The next step, of course, is to plant milkweed in your garden. More importantly, try to plant native milkweed for the monarchs. It’s been found that one of the most popular (and non-native) milkweed plants sold by nurseries, Asclepias curassavica or tropical milkweed, may actually do more harm than good.
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But with tropical milkweed, the leaves stay viable all winter long and make it more likely that a caterpillar will become infected. A report by the Monarch Joint Venture found that 49 percent of winter-breeding monarchs had OE infections, compared to only 9 percent of migratory monarchs sampled in Mexico and 15 percent of migratory monarchs sampled in the northern U.S.
This is not to say that gardeners in California and the coastal Southern states (or zones 8 through 11) who grow tropical milkweed should immediately rip it out — just remember to cut it back in late fall to reduce the spread of OE, promote new growth of fresh, healthy leaves, and encourage monarchs to finish their migration.
One of the most common, Asclepias tuberosa, is also known as butterflyweed. It’s native to most parts of the country (except the Northwest) and blooms in a brilliant orange or yellow. (Not to worry, Northwesterners: you can still plant showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, or Mexican whorled milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis.) Butterflyweed does best in dry, sandy soil with little nutrition.
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I have a few species of milkweed in my backyard, including butterflyweed. Greenwood Nursery sent me some of their plants last year and I’ve found them to be impressively resilient, surviving not only a major heat spell, but also oleander aphids, milkweed bugs, and many, many cycles of hungry caterpillars.
Purchase plants from a reputable nursery to avoid systemic pesticide use that could harm pollinators, or start your plants from seed. Offer a couple varieties of milkweed, as some monarchs may have a preference for one or the other, and plant a few patches throughout your yard for them to land on.
Plant it in a suitable place in your garden where it won’t invade your lawn or overcrowd other plants. Plant low-growing perennials in front of the milkweed, as they’ll hide the spindly “skeleton” stems once the monarchs finish feasting. You’ll still be able to see them bloom, as the caterpillars don’t eat all the way up to the flowers - growfoodguide.
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(Plants ordered in winter will arrive dormant.) They are big supporters of these beautiful monarchs and named the butterflyweed their 2017 Perennial Plant of the Year! As a family-owned nursery in Tennessee, Greenwood Nursery has been in business for four decades and I can see why — they are an absolute pleasure to deal with.
Monarch caterpillars feed exclusively on the leaves of milkweed, the only host plant for this iconic butterfly species. As such, milkweed is critical for the survival of monarchs. Without it, they cannot complete their life cycle and their populations decline. Indeed, eradication of milkweed both in agricultural areas as well as in urban and suburban landscapes is one of the primary reasons that monarchs are in trouble today.
There are several dozen species of this wildflower native to North America, so no matter where you live, there is at least one milkweed species naturally found in your area. Planting local milkweed species is always best. You can collect your own seed or purchase seed or plants to add to your garden, or any landscape in your community.
incarnata), and butterflyweed (A. tuberosa). The latter two are highly ornamental and widely available via the nursery trade. Tropical milkweed available at many retail nurseries is not native to the U.S. However it has naturalized in the Southeastern U.S. Science is discovering that its long bloom time may have some detrimental effects on monarch migration and possibly be a source to spread disease within monarch populations.
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I really want to start planting milkweed but i fear its too late - Read more. I heard there are some varieties that do not require cold stratification is this an exception. Better yet can i cold stratify then plant?.
Milkweed has become a common gardening buzz word these days. Many people have joined the mission to bring back the beloved Monarch Butterfly. Milkweed is the only host plant for the Monarch larvae. The flowers of milkweeds produce pollen and nectar for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.There are several kinds of milkweed grown in Iowa.
Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnate) and prairie milkweed (Asclepias sullivantii) are all native to Iowa and make good choices for growing in the home landscape. Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is not native but often enjoyed in the home garden and grown as an annual (gardening). Read more about each kind to determine which best fits your needs.Now is the time for the collection of milkweed pods.
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One way to do this is to strip the seeds and coma from the dried pods into a paper bag. Shake the bag to separate the seeds and then cut a small hole in one corner of the bag bottom. The seeds can be shaken out while the coma remains in the bag to be disposed of without flying all over. Read more.
The soil needs to be cool enough that the seeds do not germinate immediately. Scatter seeds and cover with approximately ¼” soil.Milkweed seeds, like many native plants, need to feel a cold winter before they can germinate. If planting is going to occur in the spring, keep seeds cold until ready to plant.
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Plant in small pots or trays about 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. Once the danger of frost is past and the plant has 4 leaves, they are ready to go outside.Seed balls can also be made. Mix equal parts of simple clay kitty litter and sifted compost and add enough water to make “mud”.
Store your seed ball in a cool location until planting time in the spring (growfoodguide). Lay on top of the soil and water well.Milkweed grows best in sunny location, allowing plenty of room between plants for the roots to spread. When planting milkweeds, choose your site carefully as they are difficult to transplant.Once you have milkweed growing in your home landscape, you are sure to attract those beloved Monarch butterflies and will soon find yourself gathering little caterpillars, and growing them indoors to insure their survival.
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Thank you for your interest in milkweed, and in supporting monarch butterflies and other key pollinators. Click on a question in the list below to view the answer. Click here if you need further help. Milkweeds are the required host plants for monarch butterfly caterpillars (female monarchs lay their eggs on milkweeds) and their flowers provide nectar for bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
Within the United States, the Xerces Society recommends planting milkweed species that are locally native and for which regionally-sourced seeds and plants are available. Several milkweed species occur across nearly all regions of the continental United States, except western Washington, northwestern Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii (although monarchs have become naturalized in parts of Hawaii, where they breed on introduced Asclepias species and two close relatives of milkweeds, Calotropis gigantea and C.
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The Xerces Society recommends planting milkweed species that are locally native and for which regionally-sourced seeds and plants are available. Milkweeds are not native to Alaska and Hawaii, but are native to most of the continental U. Read more.S. with the exception of western Washington and northwestern Oregon. It is important to learn which milkweeds are native to your region: please consult these milkweed range maps from the Biota of North America Program’s (BONAP) North American Plant Atlas.
Please refer to BONAP’s map color key to learn the meaning of additional colors displayed. Once you know which species are native to your area, you can use our Milkweed Seed Finder to search for seed sources. However, seed supplies are limited in some regions. Of the more than 70 milkweed species that are native to the U.S., fewer than 20 are typically available from commercial sources.
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If you cannot find milkweed plant materials that originate from your region, we recommend instead planting native wildflowers that will provide a source of nectar for adult monarch butterflies. Monarchs require flower nectar to fuel their flight, mating, and egg-laying. For plant recommendations, please visit our Pollinator Conservation Resource Center, select your region, and then click to expand on the ‘Recommended Pollinator Plants’ tab.
However, please note that a few of the featured species are not reliably available for purchase as either seed or live plants. For region-by-region recommendations of priority milkweed species for monarch habitat restoration efforts and descriptions of seed availability, please see Appendix IV of the Xerces Society document Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide.
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Here, we describe both methods, tailored for small-scale plantings such as home or school gardens. For planting methods relevant to implementing large-scale restoration projects or establishing seed production fields, please refer to the Xerces Society document Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide (growfoodguide). Whether you will be hand-sowing seed or transplanting seedlings, removing weeds from the planting area is essential to ensure successful milkweed establishment.
Milkweeds native to the U.S. are perennial and with few exceptions, they are deciduous. The plants typically flower between late spring and the end of summer. Following seed dispersal, their aboveground growth dies back to the ground. They then remain dormant through the winter, and re-emerge in the spring from established root systems.
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Seeds can also be direct-sown in early spring if temperatures are still low and the soil is still moist. In comparison, direct-sowing seed during the late spring or summer will be less effective and is not recommended. In regions where precipitation is irregular (e.g. southwestern U.S.), planting should precede anticipated rainfall.
Instructions on how to stratify seed are available from various gardening webpages and are featured on pages 28 – 29 of the Xerces Society document Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide. It is important to note that once stratified seed has been planted, the soil in the planted area must be kept moist for the duration of the germination period - growfoodguide.
Growing your own seedlings is far more labor intensive than direct-sowing seed, but the process can be fun and rewarding and compared to plants established from seed, transplants are typically more competitive against weeds and are likely to flower sooner. In their early growth phase, milkweeds devote a significant amount of energy to root development.
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Before sowing milkweed seeds in pots or trays, it can be helpful to first “stratify” the seed for a few to several weeks. Stratification is an easy-to-perform treatment in which seed is stored under moist conditions in a refrigerator. This simulates wintry soil conditions and often results in more rapid, even seed germination. Read more.