The monarch butterfly population has declined by more than 90 percent since 1990 and is now at high risk of being lost unless humans take quick action to protect them. Today, our children are less likely to see monarch butterflies, a bumblebee, and a host of other once-common wildlife species due in large part to conventional farming and landscape pesticides. Milkweed is the only plant on which a monarch butterfly will lay its eggs. The larvae feeds on these plants, then matures into a chrysalis. Good news - Milkweed is a beautiful plant and a magnet for good guy insects that help protect your ornamental and edible plantings.
Below is a list of Milkweed varieties. Find the type that may be applicable to your space, then ask for it at your local garden center:
Tall. The leaves can be quite large on plants growing in moist shaded areas. Although it exhibits relatively few white flowers, it’s strikingly aromatic when in bloom.
Swamp – Pink/Purple Milkweed:
The large, bright, blossoms of this showy, 2-4 ft. perennial are made up of small, rose-purple flowers. Deep pink flowers clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem, bearing numerous narrow, leaves. Elongated, tan-brown seed pods persist into winter and interest to the landscape.
Beautiful orange flowers; this plant is easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Drought tolerant. Does well in poor, dry soils. New growth tends to emerge late in the spring.
The plant that most people associate with the word “milkweed”. This is a tall species that sometimes forms large clones. Bearing large balls of pink to purplish flowers that have an attractive odor; the seed pods open in the fall and early winter dispensing wind borne seeds. Among the milkweeds, this species is the best at colonizing in disturbed sites.
Antelope Horn Milkweed:
Antelope horn has a large tap root that develops quickly which allows it to put on it’s beautiful unique white colored flower even during years when rainfall has been pretty scarce. It prefers to grow in well-drained soil in full sun.
Interested in helping monarch butterflies? Here’s a great website to learn more and get involved in helping with the recovery efforts.
If your school or non-profit educational organization is interested in Monarch conservation, this organization can help you create a habitat for monarchs and pollinators, free of charge.