Saturday, July 22, 2017

The monarchs are here!


I walked into the garden a few days ago and saw...monarchs on the milkweed! Plant it and they will come. This is very gratifying.

The species above is Asclepias incarnata - swamp milkweed. I planted it first in Harlem and it moved with us. It is growing in-ground and is much less vigorous than Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed, the one I also eat), and I recently planted another in a large pot. This is an easier milkweed to control, if you are a neat gardener.


This smaller butterfly is on the common milkweed, which was planted late in spring 2016 and which came back very strongly this year. And not exactly where I was expecting it, either. If you have spreading anxiety in a very orderly garden, I recommend using a planting barrier under ground as a medium term control. I am not sure how it would work, long term. The runners are vigorous and shoots will appear many feet from the parent plant. Ideally, plant it in a wilder section or in a meadow. The pollinators - many kinds - will love you. Or, my top soapbox suggestion: Grow it as a farm crop. Because you can eat the shoots, young stems, tender leaves, buds, flowers and pods.

Or plant a different milkweed.


And this one is on the common milkweed pods. I may squeal with excitement if I ever see a caterpillar or even better, a jewel-like and green cocoon.


They also stopped on the Ligularia. (The milkweed is where they lay their eggs.)


8 comments:

  1. I need to plant milkweed next year. We've had a frequent Monarch visitor who seems drawn to our pollinator plants (Agastache, Penstemon, etc.), but I didn't realize they lay their eggs in milkweed. You might find this story about one of our graduates this year interesting. He fashioned his own internship at a shipyard in order to restore Monarch habitat there. http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/05/vigor_and_university_of_portla.html

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    1. Thank you for the link - wonderful project, Beth!

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  2. Congrats! but question... my A. incarnata bloomed inn mid-May! Any chance the monarchs would still use it for eggs, even if they never used it for food? Thanks.

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    1. Yes, the main food is for the larvae/caterpillars - so the leaves are fine. And I really don't know enough about where they are, when...

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    2. And if you have other nectar plants the adults can feed on those...

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  3. I used Incarnta in an arrangement yesterday with pink garden roses. It's such a beautiful color.
    And as I am a messy 'gardener', I've allowed the common milkweed to flourish where it will in my front garden.

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  4. I'm finding my other milkweeds, namely whorled and incarnata, to be nearly as versatile in getting around the garden, although syriaca still holds the crown.

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  5. Marie: Your plate is full this summer for sure but may I suggest you consider raising your own monarchs! A beautiful, gratifying and valuable experience. Chances of eggs making it through to chrysalis and emergence in the wild are extremely low.We've had 99% success raising them in home. What a thrill releasing them in a pollinator garden to create another generation of these extraordinary creatures.
    Susan
    Boston MA

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