Hi, I have been raising Monarchs in my backyard for the past couple of years with what I thought was good success… 60-75 seemingly healthy Monarchs both years with a couple of cripple butterflies, maybe 5 chrysalises that turned black unevenly and never hatched. Thank you. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for native purists to magnify potential problems for adding this new milkweed to our garden landscapes. Hi Ethel, after your common milkweed is done blooming you can always cut it back a couple feet and it will put out fresh growth….this should also keep it from falling over. Please help. But, if you are having problems you’ll need to consider adding bleach to the process. Viridis and asperula are also supposed to be popular host plants in Texas. Unfortunately, I could not find any real science that had been done to confirm such idea (hypothesis). In our area (Southern Michigan) this is around June 15. Some conscientious butterfly gardeners even cut it a third time a few weeks later, just to be safe. they put themselves on medication. 2. I use the pots with mesh cages. I used to get rid of them because they were destroying my cabbage and broccoli, but they are butterflies, so now that I am trying to be a sanctuary, how can I kill them? We are a winter destination for Monarchs. The A. tuberosa and A. incarnata have done poorly, with many plants just not surviving and the others being quite small in their first summer. I would try cleaning cuttings with water first. They may not be flowering because the seeds germinated late. There is no reason for the writer to use derogatory, insulting terms such as “native purist”. Will trimming my milkweed impact monarchs and other pollinators? This is a potential problem for those in US coastal regions including Florida, Texas, and Southern California. Hi Margaret, this is not a milkweed issue…it’s a lizard issue. By 'citizen science' we mean science in which members of the public collect data -- this has nothing to do with your citizenship status in the US or any other country, and we want as many people as possible to participate! Because the Monarchs here in So. I assume this gets off a high % of spores, but I’m not sure how effective it is compared to bleach…this is an experiment for someone in a continuous growing region. Each listing has both native and perennial growing regions to help make the best choices for your garden. Curiously, we had also never found a garden chrysalis until this season. I can’t argue that tropical lasting longer than the Common is a benefit if the Monarchs artificially wait around longer. We went to the event the sanctuary had mid February to say good bye to the migrating Monarchs, but most were already gone and there were so few to start with, there were barely any left. I don’t ever have problems with first instar caterpillars, perhaps because I rinse of all my leaves or spray plants/cuttings daily. This past Spring was cooler and wetter, and I had fewer seedlings sprout, and an abundance of caterpillars that severely denuded the surviving plants, resulting in far fewer seeds for me to gather. I actually like tropical milkweed and have planted it three seasons in a row here in Maryland. They got excited too (most posts are usually about the drug and theft problems around here, so happy news was a welcome relief) I got requests for seeds from my neighbors so I packaged up saved seeds from my tropical milkweeds and zinnias to give out for free. After a few successful meals, predators learn there is no reason to avoid feasting on monarch larvae. Then there is a weekly survey of your patch which depends on the number of stems in your milkweed patch – it can take anywhere from 2 minutes if you have just a few stems to 20 minutes or more. I also have a large population of small lizards. And as far as the cardenolide levels, could high levels also be a potential benefit because the monarchs would be more poisonous? MOST CHYRSALISES WERE FORMED PERFECTLY, BUT OFTEN THE BUTTERFLY WOULD NOT EMERGE, THOUGH I COULD SEE THE FORMED WINGS, AND COULD TELL WHAT DAY IT SHOULD EMERGE, THE BUTTERFLIES WERE DYING IN CHYRSALIS. Hopefully we will get some insight into the behavior patterns of the western monarchs when the counts are finished later this month. I have three kinds of Milkweed, tropical, heart leaf and swamp. yes Linda, we have around 15 species growing in our garden every season and most of them are utilized by monarchs at some point. Later I bought a couple more tropical. Monarch expert Karen Oberhauser from the University of Minnesota recently did a Q & A for Journey North and this is what she had to say about Asclepias curassavica: “When tropical milkweed is planted in the coastal southern U.S. and California, these plants continue to flower and produce new leaves throughout the fall and winter, except during rare freeze events. Put the milkweed cutting through the hole into the oasis. It was going to be freezing the next day so I brought them inside. While the Monarch butterfly is not in danger of extinction, the miraculous migration is definitely in danger of extinction. @Tony, thank you for the article and what you are trying to do here. I try not to stoop to name-calling and I think I do a pretty good job. Keep in mind, monarchs that were tagged in California have been recovered in Mexico, disproving the theory that all western monarchs migrate to coastal California. When a milkweed stem is cut or damaged naturally, it will regrow from the base of the cut stem or from roots belowground. The trick is to know whether to bother them or not. Name calling builds walls, not bridges. I wholeheartedly agree that native plants are the cornerstone to a successful garden, but that some non-native plants can also be very helpful in our common struggle to support monarchs and other beneficial pollinators. I saw pupas only on a pot of milkweed which I put on top of a birdbath. Not everyone is going to fall in line with a natives-only solution, so I’m not sure why you’d chose not to educate people on how to deal with these potential issues. A bunch of my caterpillars seem to have issues. Why has this non-native become a staple in so many North American butterfly gardens? Thank you for providing all this info and the links. May 15, 2017. I live in deep south Texas, about 30 miles from the Mexican border. Depending on the tool being used, an adult may need to operate it. I planted a couple hundred A. curassavica indoors for 2014, along with a few dozen A. tuberosa, and some A. incarnata, and we let the A. syriaca come up all over our Minneapolis garden rather than trying to limit it to one area. So I kept them alive on diluted sugar water for about a month and was hoping they would make it to spring since they were supposed to be in Mexico over-wintering. I try to offer people options instead of ultimatums, but some people have issues with the responsible gardening approach. Thank you for your help. It seems like the best option at this point, to provide them with the best chance possible) Are there other “1st grade student approved” options? Very little reseeding in regions that freeze during winter, One of the most attractive milkweed varieties. These autumn migrating Monarchs now carrying dormant spores can infect other plants (as quoted below) during their travels and will lay infected eggs when arriving at your house the following year. I only ask that we not alienate gardeners that would like to explore more natives but are hesitant due to the attitudes of purists. I just had a monarch lay eggs on my milkweed today and I’m not sure what to do. Florida where I have swamp if I want to use it. First, monarch caterpillars give the milkweed leaves a buzz cut. Milkweed is not a cause. THE MOST HEARTBREAKING MUTATION WAS PERFECTLY FORMED BUTTERFLIES UNABLE TO FLY, TWO OF WHICH WERE BORN WITHOUT THEIR PROBISCUS IN OTHER WORDS, STARVED TO DEATH. When you are ready to do this, locate each caterpillar and carefully cut around each. I feel that if it is not perfectly dry at egg hatching time the eggs do not hatch and that may be part of the problem with our silkmoths also. From your information and others, I believe we should start to cut back the milkweed (or bring indoors) after that “initial fall migration” so that “late in the season egg laying” would not occur on our plant? Unlike Bermuda, ours arrive because they got lost and then decided to stay. Those last monarchs are mainly fed tropical milkweed. The milkweed in my yard in SE Georgia is entirely tropical milkweed. Could you give me an idea of when Peak Migration occurs here and when I should cut my Tropical Milkweed back to prevent the spread of OE? The best time to cut down milkweed plants in … This was a banner year for incarnata and I’m still feeding our caterpillars with it. anyhow, do you think it could be OE? SoCA. Also, there is a recommended stores section at the bottom of the page: I planted tropical milkweed (just labeled milkweed at the nursery) in my garden in New Orleans and now I’m worried because there are at least 10-15 caterpillars and lots of crysalises all over the garden. Many in your region also use weak bleach solutions to disinfect eggs and also milkweed. I was very concerned that they would have some food during the winter, luckily the weather got a bit warmer, so I then took them to the Monarch sanctuary and released them, The eucalyptus trees were in bloom and all of their kin were there… what little is left of the vast population that used to visit that is. Or, if they are, something is eating the blossoms. Good luck with your monarchs…. The clusters were so small, with a few flying around. I know at least a hundred take flight because of Tropical milkweed. By growing tropical milkweed responsibly, you’ll be helping more monarchs in a time when monarch support is crucial to the survival of their storied migration. Hence our drought. There are many people in this country who like native plants & have them in their landscapes to benefit the insects they have evolved with for thousands of years. The Monarch Butterfly is probably the most famous butterfly in the world. It also supplies end of the year nectar for numerous other butterfly species, insects, bumble bees, solitary bees and is a pollen source for bees. To a breeder of Monarchs this is obvious as the larger monarchs at the end of each season do not mate even with ideal habitat full of ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA. Having milkweed that peaks at different times can make a difference in how many monarchs you attract/support through the season. The tropical are doing fantastic. Almost every report I receive from gardeners is that tuberosa is one of the worst host plants for monarch eggs. 2016 UPDATE: we still plant tropical milkweed containers, but we only take stem cuttings for raising indoors because they are easier to clean and keep predator-free. Confined habitat can concentrate spores but this still has nothing to do with ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA and is caused by confinement or lack of milkweed on the whole. I have two questions: 1) I guess these seeds do not need the layering cooling technique described for other varieties?? The potential problems and solutions surrounding tropical milkweed both involve humans. I live about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in the Panhandle of Florida. So the tropical milkweed is awesome for our garden and situation. They consider this to be good for the environment & are selfless gardeners. Their caterpillars eat differently when compared to Danaus plexippus plexippus, our migrating monarchs. Prairie Moon Nursery offers several varieties (e.g., A. hirtella, A. stenophylla, A. incarnata, A. tuberosa and A. verticillata) which might grow here. The population here in the West coast is in such a decline and we in the Monterey Bay area are known for the Monarchs, it is intrinsic to our culture and it is in a sad state. Some folks have milkweed patches with several hundred stems. We’re planting our native milkweed cuttings in an 80/20 mix of perlite to peat moss, which is a more traditional mix for starting stem cuttings than starting in soil. If you’re gardening in USDA hardiness zone 7 and below, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be dealing with overused milkweed or fall-lingering monarchs. I don’t want this to happen again, so I have several species of native milkweeds planted and hope they come up this spring. I didn’t even know this was a concern, so then I researched the California natives, most are highly invasive (yes as roadside weeds they are fine, but not great for a garden) I did find that heart leaf milkweed is a non-invasive native, it grows naturally up in the Santa Cruz mountains, but I am in that area that isn’t the beach and not up in the mountains sort of a foothill area maybe. I’ve cut back several plants, and only one has flowers left on it. If I bring my potted milkweed plants indoors for the winter, do I still water them and keep them in a window? The “potential solutions” involve humans. Please do not remove eggs, caterpillars, or ANY insect from the milkweed being used for this study. You can always cut off seed pods prematurely (and pull existing plants) if it gets to be too much. We have been a resource for interested active people wanting to help the Monarch and restore its “NATURAL” habitat for the past 13 years. This has really given me pause. Once milkweed is nearing flowering in your area you will need to submit a site registration form. You can always cut back tropical milkweed you bring indoors and let fresh growth emerge over winter. At the time I didn’t know there was a controversy about it. I don’t know why tuberosa has been called the “worst host plant”. The Tropical does last a longer than the Common but I think that is nature’s way of telling the Monarchs to move on. I recommend raising from egg, using cuttings (which is recommended in my book), and thoroughly rinsing all milkweed before serving. After raising one set of caterpillars in the early summer, we let nature take its course; there have been monarch butterflies in the garden constantly. I raise monarchs to breed. I do actually have a question, though (climbing down from my podium, here). Check out this online resource and don’t hesitate to take and send us photos! I also check for OE and I raise the cats on native milkweed. if they can crawl from the leaf to the roof, they should have no trouble finding the milkweed again. I think that awareness is key and that all of us who love the Monarch would never intentionally hurt it. I definitely have > 95% success but then, I collect the eggs every evening. Re: OE – hard to believe it’s a problem in plants that are eaten to the bare stems twice a year. I have no technical expertise on Monarch’s physiology beyond a basic knowledge Last year was excellent, and during their migration south for a period of several days I had an amazing abundance of dozens of Monarchs feeding on my flowering plants. I feel that anyone re-growing tropical milkweed after rearing caterpillars, is being somewhat irresponsible, maybe selfish. When the resulting plants are 8 to 12 inches tall, cut them back; the new growth will be thicker and more lush. Late in September this year I started to see a Monarch every day. Transfer the small pieces onto a fresh leaf. If Tuberosa works for you in California, keep on doing what works. It might be pretty easy to bring one of the plants inside and take care of them that way. That was bad enough, but when butterflies were able to emerge, every single one that had fed on “tropical” milkweed emerged deformed. Dead flower heads of goldenrods, asters, coneflower…supply food for seed eating birds during winter. We made up for it after Harvey, when almost 50 larvae were counted, and yielded 41 cryssalis on my patio. In Minnesota I’ve seen monarchs, swallowtails, hummingbirds, honey bees, and other small pollinators on ours…it’s even supported tussock moth caterpillars, which I admittedly wasn’t so excited about. I planted the tropical milkweed because it was what was available in the few nurseries around here that even carried milkweed. If they are removed, then we can not able to test their survival. Many babies have died. They don’t migrate in Hawaii. Native milkweed is usually done blooming, at least for the most part at this time, so adults are most likely not landing on spore infected plants. Others stagger their cuttings so there will always be some milkweed available in case of an emergency. Each fall it seeds abundantly. Portable tropical milkweed has several advantages: 1. They can sit for up to 24 hours before they molt…they usually eat their old skin afterwards. But not all of them leave. Thank U. Hi Robert, all you need to do with tropical milkweed is direct plant in your region (no cold stratification necessary). I am concerned about this because I had cut my plants down, I had almost entirely new growth, I was feeding with the leaves from that new growth. It is heart breaking and why I will do whatever I can to help. I do not understand why so many are concerned that milkweed is available AFTER mating & egg laying. but then….. a problem in Mexico where tropical milkweed is native? When monarchs hatch with deformed wings, this usually indicates high levels of OE. Hi Penny, sorry to hear about your December monarchs. Hi Pat, now would be a good time if your activity has slowed. I didn’t know about the controversy but I do cut mine back a couple of times a year to encourage fresh new growth. So far I’ve noted that EVERY ONE of the events he warned about has come to pass exactly on the timetable he laid out. Hi Randy, OE would be a potential issue for your Calotropis species too, because it’s a continuous growing plant in a continuous growing region…I have not seen the ‘white’ monarchs personally, but have seen photos. I have moved to southern Florida where I luckily have wild milkweed on the property. When do you recommend cutting milkweed back in the fall? FACTS- Southern Milkweed ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA is classified as native in at least 4 states. Once you’re signed up we will email you with more info about upcoming webinars and instructions. Down here in Zone 10b we also have a native giant milkweed, a 9a – 11 host plant/tree. With their distinctive black, white and gold pin-striped suits and expressive dark tentacles reaching out into the universe, that’s no surprise. Again, though, none of them are blooming. 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. The truth is you’re egotist. Hi Julia, you can always stagger cuttings over time so that there’s always some milkweed available, but it all gets cut back eventually. They are (without a doubt) larger than the monarchs I see (or raise) earlier in the season. For each Monarch caterpillar you raise, you’ll need to plan to have about 1′ of mature healthy milkweed plant, which equates to about 20 mature average-sized milkweed leaves. We grow 75 tropical and 500 swamp, showy, and common. And what other varieties would U suggest I plant in S.W. Milkweed plants are the main food source and habitat for monarch caterpillars, an important and threatened native pollinator – so the more we can spread it around, the better! If you are willing to take simple precautions growing Asclepias curassavica, then it can be a valuable asset for attracting and supporting monarchs inside your butterfly garden. I’m sure the lizards eat some/most because I have seen them on the milkweed plants. I live in Santa Cruz CA. In the meantime I will be boning up on how not to spread oe and keep my milkweed supply free of it. It will be a great science fair project for my kids. I have no idea about OE/spores/migration, but I know from direct experience that potted tropical milkweed is A MONARCH KILLER. Raise Monarchs on Milkweed Cuttings– raising monarch butterflies is an awe-inspiring experience, and a much simpler one using potted milkweed plants. Cut back any tropical milkweed to the ground at Thanksgiving. I don’t want the bugs to starve, but I don’t want them to keep breeding either. Some of your readers do not come away with this basic understanding and think the plant is a cause. If the milkweed doesn’t make the larvae taste yucky, the deterrent is gone. But that is going to take years, years that we may not have if we do not work together, now. If there is enough good quality Swamp Milkweed I will use it instead of the tropical variety until after the first instar, and then they are fed almost exclusively on Tropical Milkweed. During the spring and summer, they go to all the milkweeds, because it’s all fresh growth. We probably won’t have our first freeze until late december, and who knows… it might be a temperate winter, but I just can’t stand the thought of all those potential butterflies freezing to death in their crysalises. Common milkweed requires plenty of sun to grow and shading keeps it from growing. When to Cut Back Milkweed? Are you saying that two wrongs make a right? I have offered solutions to those potential problems, but have caught a lot of flack for taking this position the past few years. 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