Milkweed for Monarchs: Part 2

Okay, so you want to plant milkweed in your garden. Great! The monarchs suffered a blow in their overwintering grounds last winter, suffering as high as a 70% mortality rate. So the more milkweed out there the better!

If you are planting milkweed into your garden for the spring, you can start with seeds. It’s easy and cheap. Click here for a website that offers FREE seeds!

If you want starter plants that are safe, I recommend these sites:




What do I mean by “Safe?”

Let’s say you want milkweed immediately so that you can go out and find eggs this season, or you have caterpillars and are running out of milkweed. Please ask your supplier whether the plants have been treated with anything (chemical or organic) that can harm caterpillars. Big store nurseries, like Home Depot, might have milkweed but it will likely have been sprayed with pesticides. Most nurseries will be honest. However, no matter what the reply, ALSO check to see if the plants have been at the nursery for 8 weeks. If not, there is a chance that the nursery that grew the plants used insecticide on the plants. Certified Organic parsley, fennel, and other plants can—and often are-- treated with Bt - deadly to caterpillars.

If your caterpillar plant/food has been treated with any insecticide within the last eight weeks, it can be deadly to your caterpillars. It is heartbreaking to find all your caterpillars dead from ingestion of poisons.

So whether you plan to plant the milkweed in your garden and simply sit back and watch the butterfly saga unfold in nature, or whether you hope to hunt for eggs and caterpillars and raise them in your habitat, please be certain that:
  • The milkweed you use is pesticide free
  • You have plenty of milkweed for your hungry caterpillars! Or else you’ll be frantically asking your friends, “Do you have milkweed you can spare?”

Next—hunting for monarch eggs. Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. I love this series of posts, Mary Alice. Butterflies are so fragile and precious. Thank you to my absolutely favorite author,
    Kathy in Bend OR


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Mary Alice