If you aren’t yet familiar with milkweed, now is the time!
Milkweed is the common name for all plants in the genus Asclepias, which is the sole host plant for the iconic Monarch butterfly. You may have seen these beauties floating by on a late Summer afternoon as they ride the air currents in search of nectar or a place to lay their eggs. They must travel from Canada all the way down to Mexico (roughly 3,000 miles!) to overwinter. Today, their population is being threatened due to the loss of beneficial habitats, and their natural sources of food are in jeopardy as we continue to develop areas that once used to be used by them when traveling.
We can help counteract this problem by planting Milkweed species in our yards! Right now (it is late January as I am writing this), you can do your part to help create a habitat for monarchs without having to dig a hole in your garden. I’m talking about sowing seeds!
Sowing milkweed seeds is relatively easy. Most species require a cold stratification period to germinate properly which means you can place the seed in your gardens at this time of year, and you should get immature plants when the weather starts to become consistently warmer. It is important to make sure there is proper seed to soil contact before sowing your seeds as they will need to anchor into the ground, so you may like to use a rake or similar tool to move some mulch in areas. Once the seed is broadcast, you will want to work it down into the top of your soil (~1/8th inch). You can accomplish this by flipping over that garden rake you used earlier to work them in. Light does aid in germination, but in order to protect your investment, move some of that mulch back over the worked area, but do it lightly!
As with most gardening tasks, remember to be patient! Milkweed are perennial plants and may take multiple seasons to germinate and grow to your satisfaction.
We currently sell 4 different types of Milkweed seeds:
Find out which one works well for your situation or try a medley of all 4!
Keep checking in to learn more about what you can do to help build your own butterfly sanctuary.