Im new to this group. I appreciate all your postings.
Im creating a garden for Monarchs. How many Narrow Leaf Milkweeds Asclepias fascicularis should I plant to be able to attract them? How long would it take? I live in San Jose. Ca; the number of Monarchs has dropped significantly over the last two years in this area. I heard that I can buy Monarch eggs over the Internet and raise them myself. Im not sure if it is a good idea but I m concerned that it will take a very long time, if ever, to attract them. I will also plant Buddleja and some Ca native butterfly plants.
It varies, Monika, and it seems like the more you plant, the more eggs they lay, so it's impossible to get the right amount of MW. I've got 10 big Asclepias curassavica plants (got about 6' tall) and several grew at their feet only to about ?2' tall. That was enough to raise two big batches, but I had to put about half of the last batch on honeyvine, a vine in the MW family, for them to finish their larva life.
One thing about MW - it's a great nectar plant as well as a host plant, so you can't plant too much!
Sherry in Southeast Mississippi
Re: attracting Monarchs
September 28 2011, 4:10 PM
Thank you so much. I already bought 4 MWs. The nursery will have 6 more in a month. So I will have at least 10; hopefully more. Depending on available space I might add more a year from now. From what you say this should be enough to attract them. How long did it take for your Monarchs to find the MW? Over a year?
Get a minimum of ten plants going. The more Milkweed you have the better. The thing with A. fasicularis is that it dies back so if I were you, I would get some other species of Milkweed as well. I have several species. The Narrowleaf has such a short 'life' in my garden that if I had to depend on it for the Monarchs I doubt I'd get very many butterflies! Having Asclepias that bloom year-round has been KEY in my garden. I live in Southern California and it took me three years before the Monarchs found my garden. Once they did, they keep a'coming! It is like they tell their friends where to stop.
I would never consider Milkweed to be invasivein fact, I would LOVE for it to invade my garden! Here's the deal. If you permit the seed pods to spread their seeds, then, yes, it is invasive. If you clip off the seed pods and do not let them open up, then you don't have to worry! My friend, who is quite fanatical in more ways than you can imagine about EVERYTHING (and we are NOT talking about just her garden!) simply cuts off the seed pods as they grow. So, she does NOT have an invasive 'issue' at all. She actually saves the pods for me in a paper bag so EVERYONE is happy. Her Milkweed is fabulous and she gets Monarchs on them all the time (as well as eggs and caterpillars, much to her great joy). It all depends upon how much YOU are willing to let become 'invasive.'
I hang out over at the hummingbird forum...but thought I'd start checking this one out too.
Here in MN I started with only one plant and had more monarchs than I knew what to do with. But it's a good thing. So far this year I've picked 21 eggs and caterpillars. I haven't checked now for a few days, I'm sure there are more to harvest. I now have only five different milkweed plants. But if I was itching for more caterpillars I could go looking in the ditches here because we have common milkweed that grows wild.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is pretty invasive here in MN. It spreads by under ground runners. Two years ago, my husband dug 4 feet down in my garden to try to find the end of the root. But we didn't find it and gave up. I keep breaking off the sprouts trying to weaken the roots but they keep popping up everywhere. This year I've broke over 15 sprouts off. It could easily take over my garden. But on a happier note Swamp Milkweed(Asclepias incarnata) hasn't spread by under ground runners. It keeps a nice bush form and doesn't get the aphid problem like the common milkweed does. It will set seed though. I do pick the pods. I am growing Tropical Milkweed(Asclepias curassavica) for the first time. It is suppose to be treated as an annual.
USDA hardiness zone 4b
Heat zone 5
Sunset zone 43
Tropical Milkweed is such an easy solution to the Monarch food issue and whether red & yellow or gold it is darned pretty. A couple of weeks ago 150 young seedlings were planted and at least twice that many have appeared as voluteers and as seeded plants. It doesn't seem to be as attractive to Monarchs as common milkweed but does an excellent job for the last generation that will head to Mexico. Many of the perennial milkweeds are for me tricky to get going and take several years to mature.
Ward - I haven't had much luck getting the perennial milkweed to sprout and grow here. Tropical Milkweed has served me well as it grows like a weed here and the seeds sprout everywhere which delights the butterflies.
You would probably have better luck if you put the seeds in the fridge for 4 or 5 months maybe even the freezer. Up here they can be planted outdoors in the fall for spring germination. The problem for me is critters dig in the pots.
Do you think certain kinds of MW are better than others for attracting them. There is a nursery near me that has them full grown but they are a bit pricy . So these plants do not winter over in my neck of the woods?
I grew mine from seed so I could grow more next season and maybe different kinds. Most likely will take a while to get monarchs here anyway. Do you suggest milkweed be grown in a group or scattered about. What I thought were monarchs once before turned out to be viceroy.
Heat zone 6
Sunset zone 35
This message has been edited by Stevenindy on Jul 15, 2012 10:54 AM This message has been edited by Stevenindy on Jul 15, 2012 10:52 AM
Steve - Usually groupings of Milkweed makes the biggest statement to any fly-by butterflies that are looking for a host or nectar plant. I don't know if Monarchs prefer one species of milkweed over another. I think they just use what is available to lay their eggs on. They lay a LOT of eggs. Not sure how many, but I've got probably 100+ Milkweed plants in my yard and I find eggs on almost every plant. I think the odds in the wild for a caterpillar to survive to the butterfly stage is like 1 in 100. Between disease, predators, and weather conditions ... most of them don't survive to become a butterfly. (Which is why many of us raise and release them.)
Sounds like I shouldnt raising common MW for its underground runners. I dont want it taking over my hummingbird garden. I only planted it to attract monarchs but it seems as if monarch arent present in my county. Cant say that Ive ever seen one here.
This message has been edited by beckygardener on Jul 20, 2012 1:23 PM
I love butgterflies (Login Monika5) Butterfly Lover
Re: attracting Monarchs
August 13 2012, 6:17 PM
I planted about 40 Narrow Leaf Milkweeds last Fall and Spring. Most of them have been blooming (at differnet times since they get different sun amount). There was one Monarch about 2 months ago. No eggs nor baby Monarchs. I also have many other butterly plants/flowers: Buddleyas, achillea millefolium, buckwheats (Eriogonum), and others (I plant mostly Ca native plants) planted in at least 1 square yard patches. I even made them a butterfly bath. I have only a cabbage butterfly and an occassional anise swallowtail. Im located in San Jose, Ca, near a creek (a creek as a wild live corridor is supposed to increase a chance of getting butterflies). Im quite dissappointed in the low of number and variety of butterflies and that there were no baby Monarchs. My goal it to help wildlife but it feels like Im not going to be able to achieve that. Will they come? What am I doing wrong?
Monika - Keep the faith that they will come. Sometimes it can take a year or more for them to find the milkweed. They also migrate out west where you are, so they may surprise you and come in large numbers soon! I have my fingers crossed for you!
On the other hand, if Monarchs are around your neighborhood they are likely to find your milkweed right away. You won't need to wait for long. Of course, the more you have, the more likely they are to find them and then lay their eggs on them.
Steve, you should grow the common milkweed so it will come back each year. The tropical milkweed might be hard for to find and you would have to start it from seeds each year. Too time consuming for your area. Unless your willing to bring in more pots each year?
Becky, I use leaves from Calotropis gigantea when I'm growing Monarchs in containers.
Jana - My Giant Milkweed is growing in an outdoor container and it grows fast and is quite large. But once the butterflies find it and lay eggs, the caterpillars munch those leaves right down. Fortunately, it seems to inspire the plant to quickly sprout more leaves to replace those and even more! I am hoping to see blooms for the first time on it this year.
Tropical Milkweed grows fast for me here. I've even grown it under lights in Winter to have plenty when Spring arrives. I literally let the seeds sprout just about everywhere the seeds fall. You can never have enough Milkweed once the butterflies find your yard. Some plants I just let grow "wild" in my yard. Salvia Coccinea is another plant I let run wild in my yard. Hummers and Butterflies ... it doesn't get much better than that in a garden!