Are you looking for inspiration, or ideas? Planting Milkweed (Asclepias) is essential to creating a habitat for the beloved Monarch butterfly's survival, as they are the only plants on which Monarch caterpillars will feed. A native plant is one that has occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction. Restoration efforts call for reestablishing milkweed populations in these important summer breeding areas. According to Rick Hellmich, an entomologist with the ARS Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit in Ames, Iowa, milkweed plants, primarily from the genus Asclepias, are the only food source of the monarch’s distinctively striped larvae (caterpillars). The first thing to consider is where you live. Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars eat. The findings indicate that while female monarchs do make choices, they don’t specialize in reproducing on a single milkweed species. You just need to be aware that you need to take a little extra precaution with these plants. Milkweed Native to Southeastern U.S. 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. This information will help growers produce the best plants possible for Monarchs. Throughout this article, I will discuss several of the different milkweed species and their various attributes so that you can pick out the best milkweed for Monarchs in you particular area. That’s the conclusion of a team of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and university scientists who monitored the egg-laying preferences of female monarch butterflies. It is a favorite egg-laying plant which grows quickly and will sprout many seed pods. Throughout this article, I will discuss several of the different milkweed species and their various attributes so that you can pick out the best milkweed for Monarchs in you particular area. San Antonio and Austin, Texas — Fall is the time to plant wildflowers, including milkweed, the Monarch butterfly host plant. (Peggy Greb, D4226-1). The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about 8 inches long. Prior to James being born, we had lost a son, Jackson, during pregnancy. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and common milkweed (A. syriaca) averaged the highest number of eggs. For example, Butterfly Weed (a type of milkweed) thrives in our garden in the upper Midwest of the US, but would not survive the hot summers in southern Florida. When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves of milkweed. Monarch butterflies are more common in some parts of the United States than others and milkweed seed supplies are variable across regions. Which Milkweeds Do Monarch Butterflies Prefer? This is the stage in the life cycle where the caterpillar changes to a butterfly. In addition to determining which milkweed species averaged the greatest number of eggs deposited by female monarchs, the researchers calculated the survival rates of caterpillars that hatched from the eggs and pupated. Heart-leaf milkweed or purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) While native milkweeds are crucial for monarchs, commercial sources of plants and seeds remain limited. I'm happily married to Stacy and together we are raising James, who is medically fragile. Common milkweed plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet in height, with a thin, vertical growth habit. Mexican milkweed, also known as tropical milkweed, delays the butterflies' instinctual fall migration through North Texas to the point of destruction, but there's a simple solution. The Florida Wildflower Foundation is supporting research at the Florida Museum of Natural History that is documenting the effect of chemicals applied to Tropical milkweed on Monarch caterpillars. I hope the toxicity of the milkweed plants didn’t scare you off. Asclepias eriocarpa – also called woolypod milkweed or Indian milkweed, it has … Native Narrow-leaved Milkweed is perfectly suitable to most of our gardens, as long as you understand its growth cycle and know what to … What’s more, their egg-laying preference can change according to the time of season, the prevalence and habitat of the milkweed species they encounter, and the plants’ robustness and maturity. 2. A few years ago, I decided to start a memorial butterfly garden in honor of Jackson. We call it by one of its common names: Butterfly Weed. Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, K, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Green Antelopehorn, Spider Milkweed (Note that Green Milkweed and Spider Milkweed are also common names for, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, link to How We Started Our Butterfly Garden, If you are looking for milkweed plants at your local garden center, you must make sure that the plants were. How to best establish milkweeds for Monarch caterpillars. ), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. This site is owned and operated by Jeff Fulkerson. Every year, monarch butterflies migrate to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico. Swamp Milkweed eventually matures to forms clumps up to 36" across. Midwest Ecoregions include: 212, 222, and 251 For now I will just list about 30 varieties that can be found around North America. The scientific name of milkweed is Asclepias. Caption: Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is a native species that grows on our local hillsides and is an excellent foodplant for Monarch butterflies. Before we dive into the different types of milkweed, let’s get some of the sciencey stuff out of the way. IMPORTANT NOTE: The species of milkweed we offer is Asclepias syriaca. As Monarch Watch announced its Bring Back the Monarchs milkweed restoration campaign last week, questions have appeared in our emailbox regarding which species are best for San Antonio and Austin yards, ranches, or even a vacant lots that beg for a butterfly garden. A monarch chrysalis hangs from the leaf of common milkweed, Corn Insects and Crop Genetics Research Unit, Monarch caterpillars hatching from eggs laid on tall green milkweed. The stems and leav… They arrive at their summer breeding grounds—the Midwest—in late spring and increase their population size over two to three generations before returning to Mexico. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp. Without milkweed, there would be no Monarch caterpillars, and without Monarch caterpillars, there would be no Monarch butterflies, and without Monarch butterflies, there wouldn’t be any eggs that Monarch caterpillars hatch from. Milkweed Native to Eastern U.S. Milkweed Native to the Great Plains. They arrive in their summer breeding grounds – the Midwest - in late spring and in two or three generations dramatically increase their populations before returning to Mexico. However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias provide the only plant material monarch caterpillars can eat. (Richard Hellmich, D4236-1). Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana. You can plant them closer and then thin the plants as they grow in, or, plant Swamp Milkweed and its cultivars between 30” and 36” apart. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. Download this milkweed information sheet from Monarch Joint Venture for regional recommendations. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are considered the … I do not currently participate in any affiliate programs, and therefore, I am not compensated from any links that are included in any of the articles on this site. Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin. Information on monarch population dynamics and milkweed seed availability by region can be found in Appendix IV of the Xerces Society document Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner’s Guide . Description: This tall perennial has … Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming. We’ve been growing Butterfly Weed in our garden for a few years now and I only recall having minor skin irritations on my arms after they came into contact with the plants. A few words about Monarchs, Milkweeds, and Milkweed growth. Milkweed is also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars. Common Milkweed. According to an ARS and Iowa State University study of nine milkweed species native to Iowa, female monarch butterflies laid eggs in all nine milkweeds, but the swamp and common milkweed averaged the highest number of eggs. Monarchs get their poisonous chemicals from the milkweed plants they eat as larvae. Every year, monarch butterflies make a multi-generational migration to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico. Adding milkweed to your landscape is simple enough, but some types serve monarchs in your zip code better than others. A native plant is one that has occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction. In Southern California, gardeners have milkweed choices when outdoor plant shopping.For decades the most common milkweed species in our gardens has been a Central American species sometimes called Tropical Milkweed, or more correctly Asclepias currassivica.It is a magnet for monarchs and even a single plant in a garden will soon display a few colorful caterpillars dining on its leaves. It all started with an accidental visit to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica airport. I'm Jeff Fulkerson. In addition to their scientific names, they also have common names which are much easier to remember (and pronounce). There is a public misconception that only one species of Milkweed can be used by Monarch Butterfly caterpillars; this is not true! Northeast Region Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca ) The leaves contain cardiac glycosides, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most species of birds and mammals. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape. It used to be widely distributed throughout North America, but as we keep taking vacant land and turning into sprawling urban areas; housing subdivisions; condo and apartment complexes; industrial and technology parks; farms; and roads, there has been a significant decrease in this key Monarch plant. No group volunteers. They're ready to grow outside the greenhouse at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Milkweed is the sole host plant of the monarch butterfly. If that changes in future, I will update this section. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a native herbaceous perennial whose main virtue is its appeal to butterfliesespecially the monarch, which deposits its eggs on the milkweed. For example, Asclepias syriaca is a specific species of milkweed. The decline is partly attributed to shrinking milkweed habitat, especially in the Midwest. Monarch Joint Venture recommends these regional milkweed species. I’ve caught the milkweed bug. Instead, conservators should also consider supplementary plantings of other species—especially in habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types. The Florida Museum of Natural History, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Butter˜y Conservation Initiative and the Monarch Joint Venture are working to help raise awareness and produce reliable sources of native milkweed. A monarch chrysalis hangs from the leaf of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. –By Jan Suszkiw, ARS Office of Communications. Throughout, the team kept data on plant height, number of blooms, and pod size as potential indicators of attractiveness to the butterflies. To help sustain monarchs and other butterflies, you should plant at least a few milkweed species that are native to your area. The winner is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed The best soil t… You get the picture? Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). Ideally, you should choose … Are you thinking about starting a butterfly garden? If you have grow lights or a greenhouse, it is best to start your milkweed seeds indoors a couple of months before you are able to transplant them outdoors. Not all milkweeds are created equal when it comes to species of the native flowering plants that monarch butterflies prefer most. Twelve Native Milkweeds for Monarchs (blog) Fact Sheet about Milkweed. Other species used by monarchs, in order of their abundance and preference, are A. incarnata (swamp milkweed), A. tuberosa (butterflyweed), A. verticillata (whorled milkweed), and A. exaltata (poke milkweed). They typically bloom rosy pink flowers, and are the preferred host plant for the monarch butterfly. ), planting native milkweed is a critical component of supporting monarchs and helping their numbers recover. To find out more about the various species of milkweed and which are best for your area, check out this factsheet courtesy of Monarch Joint Venture. Monarchs lay eggs specifically on milkweed, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and the caterpillars eat the foliage. For example, Asclepias tuberosa is the scientific name for the milkweed that we currently have growing in our garden. We are gardeners who believe that getting dirt under our fingernails and planting milkweed seeds – the monarch caterpillar's only source of sustenance – is the best way to save the endangered butterflies. Over the past 2 decades, however, monarch numbers east of the Rockies have fallen by 80 to 90 percent. Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly. Below are highlights of the team’s findings, led by ISU scientist Victoria Pocius, and reported in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution: A monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus, feeds on a New England aster, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, flower. The goal of this site is to share what I've learned (and continue to learn), what's worked in our garden (and what hasn't), and to hopefully inspire you to get a little dirty and join us in helping the Monarch butterfly avoid extinction. Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! We send out two Northern Varieties called Syriaca and Speciosa which can survive the winters at the end of the growing season, and Asclepias Curassavica (southern milkweed / red and yellow flowers) to appropriate areas. To find out, he collaborated with researchers from Iowa State University (ISU) on a multi-year field study that evaluated the attractiveness of nine milkweed species common to Iowa, a state that’s centrally located in the butterfly’s midwestern breeding range. When you are looking for milkweed plants, either at your local garden center or online, they will normally list both the scientific and the common names. The monarchs don't know coronavirus either, best we know. https://www.thespruce.com/flowers-that-attract-monarch-butterflies-3882326 And this popular plant hosts many more besides monarchs. Whenever possible, I recommend planting native plants in your garden. Natural chemicals the caterpillars ingest from milkweed also protect them and the adult butterflies they’ll later become from predation. Three species of milkweed are good all-around choices for gardens in most regions of the country: common milkweed (A. syriaca), swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), and butterfly weed (A. tuberosa). The monarch’s top 4 favorite milkweed species are bolded in the list below.. I guess you can say that it is a necessary evil to save the Monarchs. Milkweed plants, primarily from the genus Asclepias, are the only food source of monarch caterpillars. Monarch’s Favorite Milkweed. Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. Because monarch caterpillars can only grow to adulthood when feeding on milkweeds (Asclepias. For these reasons, the researchers caution against focusing restoration efforts on a single preferred species, like swamp milkweed. Answer: There are three species of milkweed that are recommended for the Orange County, CA area: 1. Planting Time: Milkweed plants can be planted in spring or fall. As I was researching butterfly gardens, I kept coming across articles about how the Monarch butterfly population was declining at a drastic rate, so I decided to make "Saving the Monarch" the goal of the garden. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). monarch population reached an all-time low, with only 28,429 butterflies counted. It’s also important to cut back the milkweed to encourage migration; although there are overwintering sites in Marin, it’s best for the butterflies to be in a frost free location. Female monarchs will lay eggs on all nine milkweed species, but they prefer some over others. spp. (Peggy Greb, D4225-1). With over 1000 species of milkweed around the world, which is the best for your garden? The main monarch host plant is Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed). Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. However, there’s been no systematic study of which milkweed species the butterfly prefers most—an important consideration in maximizing the effectiveness of conservation efforts, notes Hellmich. Not all species of milkweed will survive in all climates. Save Our Monarchs is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to saving the embattled monarch butterflies. The height and number of blooms on the milkweed plants across all nine species weren’t factors influencing the female butterflies’ egg-laying preferences. Asclepias californica – it has deep pink or magenta flowers. Swamp milkweed and the next few listed below are known to … In this article, I'll explain how we started our butterfly garden, and what we've learned along the way.... Each spring the eastern North American Monarch butterflies leave their overwintering sites in Mexico and start their journey north, reaching all the way to Canada, 3,000 miles away. Because there are so many different species of milkweed, it would be next to impossible to list and describe them all here. The different species of milkweed will start with Asclepias, followed by a second word for the particular type of milkweed. Monarch caterpillars hatching from eggs laid on tall green milkweed (A. hirtella) and prairie milkweed (A. sullivantii) had the lowest survival rates. But the 450 milkweed seedlings don't know about the pandemic. Northeast/Midwest: common ( Asclepias syriaca ); swamp ( A. incarnata ); butterfly weed ( A. tuberosa ); whorled ( A. verticillata ); poke ( A. exaltata ). Other common names for Asclepias tuberosa include butterfly love, butterfly milkweed, Canada root, chigger flower, chiggerflower, fluxroot, Indian paintbrush, Indian posy, orange milkweed, orange root, orange Swallow-wort, pleurisy root, silky swallow-wort, tuber root, yellow milkweed, white-root, and windroot. A few are already flying through Atlanta, depositing eggs on last year's milkweed, readying to migrate to summer up North. Also, the more butterflies that overwinter in a single location, the greater the genetic diversity, so it’s better for them to congregate in larger numbers. There may be many factors that have caused the Monarch population to decline so significantly, but if there is one thing that we can do to keep them from going extinct, it is to plant milkweed. The best time to cut down milkweed … Best Milkweed for Monarchs Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). The last two are highly ornamental and available in a variety of cultivars. This list does not contain all varieties of milkweed, just the best kinds of milkweed to support monarchs in your region. Their research supports a broader national effort to reverse this iconic insect’s declining numbers through milkweed habitat restoration projects. 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