“We don't have best protocols for a lot of these species,” Daniels said. “What soils they like, the moisture levels, seed storage. The nursery trade is just now learning how best to propagate them.”
“We're working with growers to try to develop techniques to grow more species,” Daniels said. “We're working to identify populations of these plants so seed collection can take place. We're working with land managers to try to find populations of the plants so we can collect seeds or cuttings.”
And that has prompted several organizations to join forces to help make native milkweeds commercially available in Florida.
But it's not native – and that's a problem.
A number of organizations such as Monarch Watch and the North American Butterfly Association have launched a nationwide effort to plant milkweed, especially along the monarch's annual migration routes that start as far north as Canada and end in Mexico. The migration routes pass through Florida.
The project also is working the Florida Department of Transportation to identify milkweed populations that grow along roadways and reduce mowing when the plants are setting seed.
One milkweed that researchers would like to see established more widely in Florida is Asclepias humistrata, called sandhill or pinewoods milkweed. “It's one of the first ones to flower in the spring, which is really important for the monarch,” he said. “And it's a handsome plant. It has a sprawling growth habit with white flowers tinged with lavender and purple-veined leaves.”
Just wanted to share my experience.
I got a milkweed plant from Home Depot because i had ran out and Garden Center didn’t have any milkweed plants and my plant did not have a label saying it has poison and then all my caterpillars stopped moving when they ate and they died. I am so angry at Home Depot for doing this. I will never buy anything from them ever again. and what was so sad was that I had a whole bunch of caterpillars and then they all just DIED.
The container says distributed by Home Depot, 2455 Paces Ferry Rd N. W., Atlanta , Georgia.
GMG Readers, Wednesday I am planning to check to see if our local Home Depots are also selling milkweeds with pesticide. I don’t purchase plants from Home Depot as they are generally of a much poorer quality, however I have in a pinch.
I contacted the Monarch Watch organization www.MonarchWatch.org/waystations at the University of Kansas (1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045) .
It needs to be sent soon as these plants are being sold now to well meaning people who are wanting to help the Monarch and not kill them. I hate to think of the billions of plants being sold nationwide and how that will cancel the efforts of so many to stop the demise of the Monarch. Could you please help?
I have been having good luck raising monarchs in my lanai until I purchased six plants from Home Depot. No markings on the pots about being treated with poison but the results were staggering; caterpillars dead on the leaves, one dead halfway through changing to a chrysalis, five butterflies hatched with deformed wings and bodies. The only difference was the plants.
My wife purchased milkweed and some salvia from Home Depot to supplement our garden milkweed that has been regrowing every year had been eaten to the ground and refresh the flowing nectar plants in our butterfly garden. There were no neonic warning tags on any of them. Now all of our caterpillars are gone and the plants she purchased haven’t been touched, There are no monarchs or many other butterflies flying around my yard either so I’m wondering if the nectar and pollen on the milkweed and other flowering plants from Home Depot is also poison?
Typically, Live Monarch Foundation has several varieties of seeds, and they’ll give you seeds that are native to your region. They have a few different hardy varieties of this perennial, including Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) and Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed), which can both survive freezing winters after the growing season ends. The foundation also has Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed), which grows well in Southern states like Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.
If you get milkweed seeds for your garden, you can start them indoors right now. Growing the plants inside for a few months gives them extra time to mature before transplanting outside. Then, plant the sprouts outside after the last spring frost in your region. In the fall, simply scatter the seeds outdoors; they won’t germinate until they’ve been exposed to freezing temperatures and won’t sprout until next spring. If you're interested in purchasing your own seeds to start, you could also purchase a collection of 40 Prairie Milkweed Seeds, $2.50, at Walmart.
Including native plants in your garden is just one way to help the pollinator population rebound.
Common Milkweed Varieties
A man in Omaha, Bob Gittins, took on a huge role in trying to save the monarchs. According to the Omaha World-Herald, after having trouble finding milkweed plants in stores, Gittins started buying the seeds in bulk from the Save Our Monarchs Foundation in Minnesota. Now, he’s helping other gardeners by giving away the seeds for free. Last year, he sent out 1,500 seed packets.
Yesterday kicked off the first day of spring, which in my mind always signals the return of blooming flowers, chirping birds, and butterflies fluttering everywhere. Aside from helping pollinate wildflowers, I love seeing butterflies every year because they make gardens look so much more magical and full of life. Monarchs are one of my all-time favorites because of their huge, unmistakable black and orange wings. One of the most effective ways to attract more monarch butterflies in your garden is to plant milkweed, and organizations dedicated to their conservation will sometimes send the seeds to gardeners at no charge. Some butterfly and garden enthusiasts have even taken it upon themselves to make accessing the seeds easy for everyone.
Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed, and when they hatch, it's the only plant the caterpillars will eat. That's what makes it so crucial for helping the next generation hatch each season. And with the monarch population declining, it's more important now than ever before for us to do our part to help these pollinators rebound.
I found an organization, Live Monarch Foundation, that also offers free seeds. If you mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Live Monarch – 2020 Seed Campaign, PO BOX 1339, Blairsville, GA 30514, the foundation will send back 15 butterfly garden seeds, including milkweed, for free. If you include a donation for the foundation along with your envelope, they’ll provide you with 50 seeds for every dollar you donate.