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Gardening How-to Articles

Milkweeds—Easing the Plight of the Monarch Butterfly

Claire Hagen Dole is the publisher/editor of Butterfly Gardeners' Quarterly, a newsletter for gardeners and butterfly enthusiasts, which can be viewed online at She has also written articles for Organic Gardening, Country Living, Sierra, Wild Garden, Hortus West, and other publications.


  • Ann September 6, 2019

    I have nurtured many clumps of milkweed over the past 5 years. This year I had more flowers than ever. I have seen a few monarchs, many caterpillars, but no cocoons! Also, a strange caterpillar appeared. It was black & gold & fuzzy. I think it is a moth. Does this moth harm the monarch?

  • Linda Colson August 19, 2019

    I know that it is best to plant Asclepias incarnata seeds in the fall but does that hold true for the live plant? Thank you in advance for your answer.

  • Kathryn Lilley October 4, 2015

    We have plenty of milkweed plants,but saw few monarchs, one caterpillar, NO cocoons! We live in central Ohio. What more can We do?

  • BBG Staff September 1, 2015

    Hi, Dan: According to the migration chart on the website of Monarch Watch, you should be able to safely (for the butterflies) mow your fields of milkweed by the end of September.

  • Dan August 30, 2015

    I’m in the southern Adirondacks, with 20 acres abundant with milkweed. When can I mow without harm to the monarch butterflies? September, October, earlier?

  • M. Kerr March 27, 2015

    What “plight”? Saw more monarch butterflies and milkweed than ever last year.

  • Sylvia Westerfield September 20, 2014

    I get a lot of milkweeds for monarchs around my farm too. I’m 82 years old and I know that some companies sell specific types so the supply that you want may be limited, but they surely have them in bare root form.

  • Gail T McLure August 17, 2014

    I had a local group help design my front and side yards three or four years ago. I allowed common milkweed (plus butterfly weed) to come up and grow in one area this year. I had lots of monarch caterpillars. Your article helped me understand that the messiness is common. Should I just leave this stand alone? I also have clumps of selected prairie grasses and coneflowers in other places. 

  • Cheryl Cappiali October 6, 2012

    I am an avid milkweed grower: A. tuberosa and A. syriaca are drawing MANY monarchs to my yard. I also grow bronze fennel as host food for the black swallowtails. It is awesome to watch them sail around the yard! Many caterpillars and cocoons are on the plants.

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