For now I will just list about 30 varieties that can be found around North America. It is a favorite egg-laying plant which grows quickly and will sprout many seed pods. The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about 8 inches long. The monarchs don't know coronavirus either, best we know. 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. Monarch butterflies are more common in some parts of the United States than others and milkweed seed supplies are variable across regions. Northeast Region Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca ) 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. Heart-leaf milkweed or purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). 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. The different species of milkweed will start with Asclepias, followed by a second word for the particular type of milkweed. The monarch’s top 4 favorite milkweed species are bolded in the list below.. The last two are highly ornamental and available in a variety of cultivars. 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. Asclepias californica – it has deep pink or magenta flowers. 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. A monarch butterfly perches on milkweed at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., Friday, May 31, 2019. Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. (Peggy Greb, D4225-1). The decline is partly attributed to shrinking milkweed habitat, especially in the Midwest. 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. You just need to be aware that you need to take a little extra precaution with these plants. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp. 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. Ideally, you should choose … However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. If you want to help increase the Monarch population, milkweed is the first plant you should consider adding to your garden. I’ve caught the milkweed bug. You get the picture? 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. Before we dive into the different types of milkweed, let’s get some of the sciencey stuff out of the way. Asclepias eriocarpa – also called woolypod milkweed or Indian milkweed, it has … 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. monarch population reached an all-time low, with only 28,429 butterflies counted. In addition to their scientific names, they also have common names which are much easier to remember (and pronounce). 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. I guess you can say that it is a necessary evil to save the Monarchs. This information will help growers produce the best plants possible for Monarchs. Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). 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. 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. 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. Native Narrow-leaved Milkweed is perfectly suitable to most of our gardens, as long as you understand its growth cycle and know what to … Over the past 2 decades, however, monarch numbers east of the Rockies have fallen by 80 to 90 percent. Prior to James being born, we had lost a son, Jackson, during pregnancy. IMPORTANT NOTE: The species of milkweed we offer is Asclepias syriaca. Milkweed is also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars. Monarch’s Favorite Milkweed. Not all species of milkweed will survive in all climates. (Peggy Greb, D4226-1). Monarchs lay eggs specifically on milkweed, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and the caterpillars eat the foliage. 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. 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. 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). Monarch Joint Venture recommends these regional milkweed species. 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. This is the stage in the life cycle where the caterpillar changes to a butterfly. 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. I'm happily married to Stacy and together we are raising James, who is medically fragile. Midwest Ecoregions include: 212, 222, and 251 Throughout, the team kept data on plant height, number of blooms, and pod size as potential indicators of attractiveness to the butterflies. Swamp Milkweed eventually matures to forms clumps up to 36" across. 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. Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly. I'm Jeff Fulkerson. 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. ), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. San Antonio and Austin, Texas — Fall is the time to plant wildflowers, including milkweed, the Monarch butterfly host plant. How to best establish milkweeds for Monarch caterpillars. 2. And this popular plant hosts many more besides monarchs. A monarch chrysalis hangs from the leaf of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana. It all started with an accidental visit to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica airport. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and common milkweed (A. syriaca) averaged the highest number of eggs. 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). 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. Caption: Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is a native species that grows on our local hillsides and is an excellent foodplant for Monarch butterflies. Instead, conservators should also consider supplementary plantings of other species—especially in habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types. With over 1000 species of milkweed around the world, which is the best for your garden? Are you looking for inspiration, or ideas? Milkweed Native to Eastern U.S. Milkweed Native to the Great Plains. Every year, monarch butterflies migrate to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico. This list does not contain all varieties of milkweed, just the best kinds of milkweed to support monarchs in your region. Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are considered the … 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. For these reasons, the researchers caution against focusing restoration efforts on a single preferred species, like swamp milkweed. 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. To help sustain monarchs and other butterflies, you should plant at least a few milkweed species that are native to your area. This site is owned and operated by Jeff Fulkerson. While native milkweeds are crucial for monarchs, commercial sources of plants and seeds remain limited. Their research supports a broader national effort to reverse this iconic insect’s declining numbers through milkweed habitat restoration projects. 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. If that changes in future, I will update this section. Common milkweed plants grow to about 2 to 4 feet in height, with a thin, vertical growth habit. 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. https://www.thespruce.com/flowers-that-attract-monarch-butterflies-3882326 They typically bloom rosy pink flowers, and are the preferred host plant for the monarch butterfly. Twelve Native Milkweeds for Monarchs (blog) Fact Sheet about Milkweed. 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. Best Milkweed for Monarchs Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). The findings indicate that while female monarchs do make choices, they don’t specialize in reproducing on a single milkweed species. I hope the toxicity of the milkweed plants didn’t scare you off. Swamp milkweed and the next few listed below are known to … A few years ago, I decided to start a memorial butterfly garden in honor of Jackson. 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. 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. 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. Whenever possible, I recommend planting native plants in your garden. Save Our Monarchs is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to saving the embattled monarch butterflies. spp. Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias provide the only plant material monarch caterpillars can eat. Monarch caterpillars hatching from eggs laid on tall green milkweed (A. hirtella) and prairie milkweed (A. sullivantii) had the lowest survival rates. 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. Monarchs get their poisonous chemicals from the milkweed plants they eat as larvae. Answer: There are three species of milkweed that are recommended for the Orange County, CA area: 1. The best time to cut down milkweed … For example, Asclepias syriaca is a specific species of milkweed. Not all milkweeds are created equal when it comes to species of the native flowering plants that monarch butterflies prefer most. (Richard Hellmich, D4236-1). For example, Asclepias tuberosa is the scientific name for the milkweed that we currently have growing in our garden. A native plant is one that has occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction. Female monarchs will lay eggs on all nine milkweed species, but they prefer some over others. Milkweed is the sole host plant of the monarch butterfly. 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. 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. They're ready to grow outside the greenhouse at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Restoration efforts call for reestablishing milkweed populations in these important summer breeding areas. The first thing to consider is where you live. 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. 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 . The winner is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed When the caterpillars hatch, they feed on the leaves of milkweed. Milkweed Native to Southeastern U.S. 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. The leaves contain cardiac glycosides, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most species of birds and mammals. Northeast/Midwest: common ( Asclepias syriaca ); swamp ( A. incarnata ); butterfly weed ( A. tuberosa ); whorled ( A. verticillata ); poke ( A. exaltata ). No group volunteers. The stems and leav… The main monarch host plant is Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed). Every year, monarch butterflies make a multi-generational migration to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico. 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. 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. Description: This tall perennial has … 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). Varieties of Asclepias: Dr. Richard Mills’ outstanding article on “Milkweed and Monarchs” was reprinted in the Fall 2001 issue of the Virginia Butterfly Bulletin. 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 soil t… A monarch caterpillar feeds on common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. 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. We call it by one of its common names: Butterfly Weed. Planting Time: Milkweed plants can be planted in spring or fall. Which Milkweeds Do Monarch Butterflies Prefer? Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! Common Milkweed. 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. ), planting native milkweed is a critical component of supporting monarchs and helping their numbers recover. Because there are so many different species of milkweed, it would be next to impossible to list and describe them all here. Are you thinking about starting a butterfly garden? Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa. But the 450 milkweed seedlings don't know about the pandemic. A few are already flying through Atlanta, depositing eggs on last year's milkweed, readying to migrate to summer up North. Because monarch caterpillars can only grow to adulthood when feeding on milkweeds (Asclepias. The height and number of blooms on the milkweed plants across all nine species weren’t factors influencing the female butterflies’ egg-laying preferences. A few words about Monarchs, Milkweeds, and Milkweed growth. Download this milkweed information sheet from Monarch Joint Venture for regional recommendations. The scientific name of milkweed is Asclepias. Milkweed is the only plant that Monarch caterpillars eat. 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. –By Jan Suszkiw, ARS Office of Communications. Natural chemicals the caterpillars ingest from milkweed also protect them and the adult butterflies they’ll later become from predation. 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. Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape. There is a public misconception that only one species of Milkweed can be used by Monarch Butterfly caterpillars; this is not true! Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Milkweed plants, primarily from the genus Asclepias, are the only food source of monarch caterpillars. Or soil types of its common names which are much easier to remember ( and )! Call it by one of its common names which are much easier to remember ( and ). 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