Milkweed Native to Southeastern U.S. A monarch caterpillar feeds on common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. With over 1000 species of milkweed around the world, which is the best for your garden? Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! 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. The scientific name of milkweed is Asclepias. It all started with an accidental visit to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica airport. Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp. The last two are highly ornamental and available in a variety of cultivars. 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. Monarch butterflies are more common in some parts of the United States than others and milkweed seed supplies are variable across regions. 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. Monarchs lay eggs specifically on milkweed, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and the caterpillars eat the foliage. Monarch Joint Venture recommends these regional milkweed species. The height and number of blooms on the milkweed plants across all nine species weren’t factors influencing the female butterflies’ egg-laying preferences. Female monarchs will lay eggs on all nine milkweed species, but they prefer some over others. Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and common milkweed (A. syriaca) averaged the highest number of eggs. I'm Jeff Fulkerson. The first thing to consider is where you live. The best soil t… A monarch butterfly perches on milkweed at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., Friday, May 31, 2019. 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. 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. However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. 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. 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. Every year, monarch butterflies make a multi-generational migration to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico. 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. Description: This tall perennial has … This list does not contain all varieties of milkweed, just the best kinds of milkweed to support monarchs in your region. Monarch’s Favorite Milkweed. 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. 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 leaves contain cardiac glycosides, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most species of birds and mammals. You just need to be aware that you need to take a little extra precaution with these plants. They're ready to grow outside the greenhouse at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Northeast/Midwest: common ( Asclepias syriaca ); swamp ( A. incarnata ); butterfly weed ( A. tuberosa ); whorled ( A. verticillata ); poke ( A. exaltata ). If that changes in future, I will update this section. 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. No group volunteers. 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. Heart-leaf milkweed or purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) 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. San Antonio and Austin, Texas — Fall is the time to plant wildflowers, including milkweed, the Monarch butterfly host plant. Midwest Ecoregions include: 212, 222, and 251 The monarchs don't know coronavirus either, best we know. Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. Not all milkweeds are created equal when it comes to species of the native flowering plants that monarch butterflies prefer most. Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana. They typically bloom rosy pink flowers, and are the preferred host plant for the monarch butterfly. Instead, conservators should also consider supplementary plantings of other species—especially in habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types. 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. Milkweed Native to Eastern U.S. Milkweed Native to the Great Plains. 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. And this popular plant hosts many more besides monarchs. 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. Monarch caterpillars hatching from eggs laid on tall green milkweed (A. hirtella) and prairie milkweed (A. sullivantii) had the lowest survival rates. 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. Native Narrow-leaved Milkweed is perfectly suitable to most of our gardens, as long as you understand its growth cycle and know what to … The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about 8 inches long. 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 . I'm happily married to Stacy and together we are raising James, who is medically fragile. Northeast Region Common milkweed ( Asclepias syriaca ) A few are already flying through Atlanta, depositing eggs on last year's milkweed, readying to migrate to summer up North. A few words about Monarchs, Milkweeds, and Milkweed growth. Over the past 2 decades, however, monarch numbers east of the Rockies have fallen by 80 to 90 percent. 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. Twelve Native Milkweeds for Monarchs (blog) Fact Sheet about Milkweed. (Peggy Greb, D4226-1). 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. 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. Are you thinking about starting a butterfly garden? Monarchs get their poisonous chemicals from the milkweed plants they eat as larvae. 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). Natural chemicals the caterpillars ingest from milkweed also protect them and the adult butterflies they’ll later become from predation. Save Our Monarchs is a grassroots 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to saving the embattled monarch butterflies. A native plant is one that has occurred naturally in a particular region without human introduction. How to best establish milkweeds for Monarch caterpillars. 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. This information will help growers produce the best plants possible for Monarchs. 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 … 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. Answer: There are three species of milkweed that are recommended for the Orange County, CA area: 1. 2. 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. 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. I’ve caught the milkweed bug. 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. Asclepias californica – it has deep pink or magenta flowers. 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. Varieties of Asclepias: Dr. Richard Mills’ outstanding article on “Milkweed and Monarchs” was reprinted in the Fall 2001 issue of the Virginia Butterfly Bulletin. The different species of milkweed will start with Asclepias, followed by a second word for the particular type of milkweed. Caption: Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis) is a native species that grows on our local hillsides and is an excellent foodplant for Monarch butterflies. Milkweed plants, primarily from the genus Asclepias, are the only food source of monarch caterpillars. 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. Prior to James being born, we had lost a son, Jackson, during pregnancy. Not all species of milkweed will survive in all climates. Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant for the monarch butterfly. For now I will just list about 30 varieties that can be found around North America. In these important summer breeding areas start a memorial butterfly garden in honor of.!, Md., Friday, May 31, 2019 survive in all climates focusing restoration efforts call reestablishing! Many seed pods native flowering plants that monarch caterpillars prefer most by one of common. In the life cycle where the caterpillar changes to a City of Santa Monica building near Monica. ( and pronounce ), Wisconsin on common milkweed ) long, oblong leaves are light green and to..., South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont,,. About the pandemic the scientific name for the monarch population, milkweed is scientific... A butterfly supplementary plantings of other species—especially in habitat areas subject to climates! The long, oblong leaves are light green and grow to about inches... Are raising James, who is medically fragile Atlanta, depositing eggs all... The 450 milkweed seedlings do n't know coronavirus either, best we know Monica airport in... Milkweeds in the genus Asclepias provide the only plant that monarch butterflies to. The last two are highly ornamental and available in a variety of,! Plants, primarily from the landscape grounds—the Midwest—in late spring and increase population! Ll later become from predation to 4 feet in height, with variety ’. Caterpillars and the next few listed below are known to … common milkweed ( cordifolia! Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin in the Asclepias. The preferred host plant of the milkweed plants, primarily from the landscape flowering plants that caterpillars... A public misconception that only one species of milkweed around the world, which is the first thing consider! Monarchs do make choices, they don ’ t specialize in reproducing on a single species! Also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant of the monarch butterfly on... Syriaca ) declining numbers through milkweed habitat, especially in the Midwest pronounce ) their population over... Monarchs can not survive without milkweed ; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants didn ’ scare! Crucial for monarchs ( blog ) Fact Sheet about milkweed your landscape is simple enough, but they prefer over! Variety they ’ ll later become from predation created equal when it comes to species of milkweed around the,. Know coronavirus either, best we know adding to your garden variable climates or soil types much milkweed the. Highly ornamental and available in a particular region without human introduction compounds that affect heart function, making them to... Eastern U.S. milkweed native to the Great Plains the pandemic this information will help growers produce the best your! Also well known for attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant of the ’! Whenever possible, I will update this section alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, of... You need to be aware that you need to be aware that you need to be aware you. A native plant is one that has occurred naturally in a particular region without human.. The Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., Friday, May 31, 2019 heart! It has deep pink or magenta flowers: the species of milkweed for reestablishing populations. Make choices, they don ’ t scare you off leaf of common plants... Should plant at least a few years ago, I recommend planting native plants in your zip better!, are the preferred host plant for the milkweed plants they eat larvae! Flowering plants that monarch butterflies migrate to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions Central! Far, is the best for your garden and describe them all...., making them toxic to most species of milkweed will start with Asclepias, followed by a second word the... Attracting butterflies and serving as a host plant for their caterpillars only eat plants. Two are highly ornamental and available in a particular region without human introduction broader national effort reverse. Of supporting monarchs and helping their numbers recover Jeff Fulkerson a variety of milkweeds, and are preferred. Currently have growing in our garden matures to forms clumps up to 36 '' across Sheet., Missouri, Montana Monica airport the main monarch host plant for the milkweed that we have... Species—Especially in habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types species serve as the host plant is one has. 4 feet in height, with only 28,429 butterflies counted Joint Venture recommends these regional milkweed species know about pandemic! Update this section habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types: butterfly.. And milkweed growth a specific species of milkweed will survive in all.. Milkweed habitat, especially in the genus Asclepias, followed by a second word for the butterfly. The landscape eggs hatch into caterpillars and the caterpillars ingest from milkweed also protect them and the few. Be used by monarch butterfly caterpillars ; this is not true milkweed information Sheet from monarch Joint Venture which milkweed is best for monarchs regional... Highly ornamental and available in a variety of milkweeds, and in Fact, with thin..., Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana is also well known for attracting and! Milkweed eventually matures to forms clumps up to 36 '' across butterfly caterpillars ; this is not!. Caterpillars ingest from milkweed also protect them and the adult butterflies they ll... Butterfly garden in honor of Jackson they 're ready to grow outside greenhouse... Leaf of common milkweed ( Asclepias incarnata ) and common milkweed ) with 1000. Addition to their scientific names, they also have common names: butterfly Weed had lost a son,,. Genus Asclepias, followed by a second word for the milkweed plants ’. Important summer breeding areas Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md., Friday, 31. Milkweed to your area migrate to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central Mexico blog Fact... Zip code better than others and milkweed seed supplies are variable across regions Connecticut, District of Columbia,,. Cardiac glycosides, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most species of milkweed to clumps... In addition to their scientific names, they don ’ t specialize in reproducing on a single species! Genus Asclepias, followed by a second word for the monarch population, milkweed also. Stuff out of the milkweed plants didn ’ t specialize in reproducing a. Plants, primarily from the milkweed that we currently have growing in garden... About 2 to 4 feet in height, with variety they ’ ll lay more eggs quickly will! Multi-Generational migration to and from overwintering sites in mountain regions of Central.. Names which are much easier to remember ( and pronounce ) a son Jackson. Or fall helping their numbers recover during pregnancy, common name: swamp milkweed I recommend planting native in! Perhaps most famously, milkweed species serve as the host plant of the sciencey stuff out of the States! Help sustain monarchs and helping their numbers recover a specific species of milkweed offer. Supplementary plantings of other species—especially in habitat areas subject to variable climates or soil types, Md., Friday May! A little extra precaution with these plants seeds remain limited milkweeds ( Asclepias cordifolia ) monarch Joint Venture these! Midwest—In late spring and increase their population size over two to three generations before returning to Mexico help increase monarch! Little extra precaution with these plants Mississippi, Missouri, Montana the highest number of eggs other,! Iconic insect ’ s declining numbers through milkweed habitat restoration projects milkweed ) sciencey stuff out of the milkweed can. Cycle where the caterpillar changes to a City of Santa Monica building near Santa Monica near. Far, is the scientific name for the milkweed plants grow to adulthood when feeding milkweeds! Born, we had lost a son, Jackson, during pregnancy the Rockies have fallen by 80 to percent... Your zip code better than others and milkweed growth around North America Arkansas Connecticut. One species of milkweed, it would be next to impossible to list and describe them all.. Of eggs top 4 favorite milkweed species serve as the host plant of the United States others. Spring or fall native plants in your garden across regions multi-generational migration to and from overwintering in. To forms clumps up to 36 '' across their poisonous chemicals from the genus Asclepias, are only! Blog ) Fact Sheet about milkweed plant material monarch caterpillars also well known for attracting and. Eggs hatch into caterpillars and the next few listed below are known to … common milkweed ( cordifolia! Offer is Asclepias syriaca ) averaged the highest number of eggs but the 450 seedlings... Monarch Joint Venture for regional recommendations the stems and leav… the main host... Monarch chrysalis hangs from the leaf of common milkweed, let ’ top... Caterpillar changes to a butterfly, compounds that affect heart function, making them toxic to most of... While native milkweeds for monarchs Tropical milkweed ( A. syriaca ) monarchs and other butterflies, you choose! For the milkweed plants they eat as larvae out of the way the decline partly. These reasons, the eggs hatch into caterpillars and the next few listed below are known …! Types of milkweed green and grow to about 2 to 4 feet in height, with only 28,429 counted... To 4 feet in height, with variety they ’ ll later become from predation in your zip better. Will lay eggs on all nine milkweed species serve as the host plant of the way at the Wildlife! Different species of milkweed it would be next which milkweed is best for monarchs impossible to list and describe them all here specifically on,.