Milkweed for Monarchs

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Monarch Butterflies are in danger. You can help by growing milkweed!

Monarch Butterflies are in trouble, and you can help them. Annual Monarch butterfly counts have found fewer than 2000 butterflies. A massive decline from tens of thousands which were tallied in recent years. Sites which have wintered thousands of monarchs in the past have seen only a couple hundred at best this year.

If the monarchs disappear, the effect on the world could be catastrophic. Many flowering plant species are so dependent on the monarch that if the butterflies disappeared most assuredly, the plants would disappear as well. The "Butterfly Effect" would take place where when one species is gone, it threatens another and that species disappearance causes a disaster for another species and so on. There is even a theory that if the flapping of butterfly wings ceased, it would cause a disturbance in the global climate furthering the dramatic consequences of global warming.

Scientists say that the Monarchs favorite food, milkweed, is being destroyed along the butterflies' migratory route as buildings, roads, and housing expands.

You can help the endangered Monarch butterfly. This gardening season, plant Milkweed in your garden or around your home. You can plant it right in the ground or planters. Milkweed grows beautiful pink flowers that Monarchs love. The milkweed plant is easy to grow and ready for Monarch butterflies to visit in about 6 to 8 weeks. Plant milkweed very early, when the soil is still chilled. This helps the milkweed get started.

If you plant these early you will have them up for Monarchs to visit in summer and early fall.

Milkweed seed require a something called cold stratification. This is a fancy term meaning put the seeds in your refrigerator for four weeks before planting. This imitates the natural process of breaking the seeds dormancy cycle.

If you plant the seeds in the fall, the seeds can do the cold stratification without the refrigerator. The seeds can stay in the ground all winter and they will grow in the spring.

You can grow the seeds in pots or the ground. If using pots, just fill the pot about 3/4 of the way with potting soil. Place seeds about 2 inches apart and then top with potting soil and water them. Do not over water the seeds. Lightly dampen the soil and add more water gently when it gets dry. Milkweed prefers to be in direct sunlight in a warm area.

If you want to see monarchs visit your home, you should grow at least 10 milkweed plants. This will attract them and will give them an adequate food supply too. Milkweed plants make beautiful clusters of tiny yellow or orange flowers. The plants do well as border plants around your home, and they are quite decorative, so you will enjoy them also.