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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 butterflygardeners.com. She has also written articles for Organic Gardening, Country Living, Sierra, Wild Garden, Hortus West, and other publications.

    Discussion

  • 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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