How to Grow Milkweed for a Butterfly Garden

Butterflies, and particularly the monarch, love milkweed. Yet for several decades farmers and homeowners both considered this wildflower to be a weed that needed to be killed, directly resulting in the decline of the monarch population. More awareness about how necessary milkweed is to the monarch’s life cycle has helped change this flower’s description from weed to wonderful and helped rotate the threatened monarch population. A queen butterfly will lay three to four hundred eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants, which is that the sole food of their larvae. Once hatched, the caterpillars will increase their body mass quite two thousand-fold before forming a chrysalis or cocoon. After about fortnight, the adult butterfly will emerge. the foremost amazing thing about this adult butterfly is how its individual life fits into the epic annual migration of the species. Each winter, the monarchs overwinter in southern climes – some in California but most in Mexico. Come spring, these butterflies will travel north for a couple of hundred miles, trying to find an honest patch of milkweed for his or her eggs and other flowers’ nectar for themselves. Their own lifetime will run low at this point, but their offspring – once they’ve hatched, eaten many milkweeds, and metamorphosed into adults – will travel another few hundred miles before repeating the method. Four or five generations will pass during the spring and summer until the ultimate generation of adults for the year emerges in Canada. Then these newest adults will ride the air currents all the way back to Mexico – around 3000 miles – to an equivalent exact tree where their ancestors have always overwintered, where they’re going to live until they travel north again in spring to make subsequent generation. you’ll help these majestic butterflies, also as more sedentary local species of butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects, by planting milkweed in your garden. Our Save the Monarch Kits are customized for every region of the U.S. to supply milkweed and other butterfly-friendly wildflowers native thereto area.

Tips to Successfully Growing Milkweed

You should plant your milkweed in a neighborhood that receives full sun.

Plant out of the direct path of pedestrian traffic to guard any baby monarchs which will live there.

If you’ll be planting them in a neighborhood that’s very weedy, you ought to till, mow or harrow the location first to stop the weeds from out-competing the seedlings.

Planting within the spring? you’ll want to place them in your refrigerator inside a sealed bag for 3-6 weeks, or within the freezer for each day or two followed by each day of thawing. this may help trigger the germination process once you plant them by mimicking the winter they didn’t experience in your garden. otherwise, you can skip this process by planting within the fall and letting nature chill the seeds for you. Wait until the danger of frost has passed.

Planting within the fall? Plant before the bottom freezes but after the primary killing frost, in order that they don’t accidentally sprout timely.

Planting from Seed

When it’s time to plant, mix the seeds with ten times the maximum amount vermiculite, rice hulls or sand to form it easier to broadcast evenly. Loosen the highest two inches of the soil where you’ll be planting. A 1/8 lb kit will cover about 500 square feet. Broadcast the seed mixture, then tamp the soil. Lightly cover the world with compost or straw, but take care to not bury the seeds too deeply or they’re going to not sprout. Aim for 1/8 inch depth, and no quite 1/4 inch. you’ll got to irrigate the seeds for a minimum of four to 6 weeks while they germinate, and once more or two within the season, but they’re going to naturalize once they reseed and settle with the winter rains in subsequent years. you’ll get to supplement the world with more seeds subsequent year as your patch gets established. If the location where you planted them gets limited water or has erosion or weed problems, you’ll get to plant again in future years also.

Other Things to think about About Milkweed

Some varieties are often invasive. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Asclepias speciosa (Asclepias speciosa) can spread through underground rhizomes. So if you’ve got limited space you’ll want to avoid these varieties.

Milkweed is poisonous to animals if browsed, so plant it faraway from areas with livestock or a pet run.

Milkweed will exude a “milk” which will cause eye damage if it finds its way into an eye fixed.

Monarchs have a neater time finding your milkweed if you plant quite one plant.

How to Collect Seeds from the Milkweed Pods

Don’t collect too early. If you open up the pod and therefore the seeds are brown or maybe white, they’re going to not be viable for planting subsequent season.

Collect the seeds before the pod exposes. So a method to avoid them bursting open is to place an elastic band around the pod (not wrapped too tight, just loosely).

You know the pod is prepared to gather once you squeeze it and therefore the center seam makes a popping sound.

You will want to get rid of the seeds from the floss or fluff. Start from the pointed end, grab that end and pull it out of the pod. Keep holding the middle section and knock the seeds off as you hold the floss.

If the pods have already popped and therefore the fluff is beginning, simply collect it (with the seeds attached), put it into a sack with a couple of pennies. Close and shake the bag. this may separate the seeds from the fluff.

If you’re not planning on planting until the subsequent spring, you’ll store the dry seeds during a sack, bag or jar. Place within the refrigerator until ready to be used.

Check out the Monarch Watch website. it’s great information on monarchs and the way to make a Monarch Waystation. Grow some milkweed and flowers for nectar, and grow organic for life!

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