Friday, October 11, 2013

Good ideas for planting milkweed for 2014 monarch butterflies

Fall Planting Milkweed For 2014 Monarchs

Fall is the perfect time to get a head start on the monarch season for next year. If you’d like to start preparing for spring the easy way, plant your perennial milkweed seeds (and plants) in the fall.

Why is fall planting easier?

1. Cold Stratification Au Natural
Most milkweed requires a cold stratification process which helps your seeds to germinate. Old man winter takes care of this for you naturally by providing freezing temps outdoors.
2. Second Chances
If your seeds don’t sprout as planned next spring, you can easily replace them with seeds or plants. If you plant bad seeds in spring, by the time you realize it, it may be to late to replant for that season.
So plant seeds in fall, then make the necessary alterations next spring.

Milkweed ideas for fall planting

Fall planting common milkweed can give you a head start on next season
Get A Head Start On Next Season
A wonderful addition to the butterfly garden if you stay one step ahead of it:

2. Asclepias viridis (Spider Milkweed)
A compact, early blooming milkweed that supports spring monarchs.

3. Asclepias purpurascens (Purple Milkweed)
Purple milkweed seeds can be fall planted for spring monarchs and great spangled fritillaries
The Power of Purple
Similar to common with richer purple blooms and a non-invasive growth habit

Host and nectar plant that prefers wetter soil. Ours thrives in partial sun.

5. Asclepias speciosa (Showy Milkweed)
Pretty pink and white star flowers that monarchs love. Also a Good Host Plant

6. Milkweed Plants
Fall Planting Swamp Milkweed plants will yield bright blooms next summer
Fall PLANTS for Blooms Next Season
Seeds have a tendency to move around, so those who want to get their garden better-situated now can also buy plants. This will cost you a little more, but you won’t have to make ‘spring adjustments.’ Plants should be put in-ground upon arrival.
Don’t plant annual milkweed (like tropical) in autumn, because it will die by the cold hand of Old Man Winter.

Planting your seeds

  • Late October through November is prime time for fall planting- don’t plant too early down south
  • Water the area first, so you can secure the seeds with mud instead of dirt
  • Plant seeds about 1/4″ deep- if you stick your finger in the ground, this would be about the distance to your first knuckle
  • Plant more than you need
  • Thin out your milkweed seedlings in spring according to recommended distance for each species
  • 6-10 milkweed plants is a good minimum per patch
  • Give potentially invasive varieties like common milkweed more room to grow…perhaps outside the garden?
  • Experiment- try growing the same species in different growing conditions (ie: amount of sun)
Those are 5 of the more popular milkweeds for butterfly gardens. There are many more you can try, but make sure they will grow in your region and research potential issues a species might have.
I don’t always stick to native plant guidelines, but I always make informed planting decisions. I research every plant before I add it to the mix, to make sure it’s something than can succeed in my region, isn’t invasive, and won’t require more effort than I’m willing to put forth.
Before planting perennial milkweed, learn what milkweeds are native to your region. Also, see if other milkweed species might be worth trying in your USDA hardiness zone. Garden experiments can be exciting…especially when they’re successful!
Questions or Comments about fall planting milkweed? Please post them below in facebook or the WordPress comment box:

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  1. Tony,
    How do I know what kind of milkweed is best for our area of Central Texas? I planted the common Butterfly Milkweed with the yellow/orange flowers and they’ve done well. Very slow growers. Monarchs started showing up last 10 days. Female(s) depositing their eggs underneath the leaves. Haven’t seen any ‘cats’ yet. Is it too late to order monarch eggs for bringing inside?
    I ordered many different kinds of butterfly weed milk plants and this one was the only one that succeeded.
    Again, please recommend others that are good for this climate, zone 8 in Cen-Texas?
    A friend in MI send a many seed from her Joe Pye weed. When should I plant them? And will they do well here in Central Texas?
    Thank you,
    sheri deloach invites you to read…Sheri takes me to the ‘Visiting Place’My Profile
    • Hi Sheri, here is a list of texas milkweeds. Keep in mind that Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed) is not native and that some scientists suggests that growing it in places like Texas and Florida can disrupt the monarch migration. If you grow it, it’s probably best to cut it back to the ground in fall so the monarchs can’t use it.
      If you saw the female 10 days ago, her eggs should have hatched after about 4. So either those are newer eggs or they’re something else entirely, like aphids?
      The migration goes through the end of October so you probably have time to raise a final batch in Texas. If you want to know more about which plants to grow specifically in your region, I would suggest calling your local master gardener hotline or seeing a master gardening presentation on butterfly gardening at your local library…if there is a local chapter closer to you, they should be able to let you know. Hope this helps, Tony
  2. Tony,
    Really enjoy your postings they are most colorful. I also like the extra color and nectar that annuals contribute to the fall for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and for bouquets of wonderful living color for myself and friends as well. Especially loved the picture of the Great Spangled Fritillaries on the purple milkweed. Do you grow purple milkweed? I see that Missouri Wildflowers lists it as plants, have you ever ordered from them? Will be setting out some swamp milkweed seeds shortly. It is amazing how many butterflies love the nectar of asclepias. What can you tell me about growing new asclepias plants from a portion of the root or root cuttings? My cousin from Florida is going to send some tropical milkweed seeds for me from her plant later this fall. I can’t wait to get them planted indoors of course for next year 2014. Sorry you had to take so much grief over your note on how well exotics work with native plants to extend the nectar season. Brian from Ossian, IN
    • Hi Brian, thanks for posting…your comments are much appreciated.
      I started growing purple milkweed this season…looking forward to seeing it really take off in year 2. I got seeds off ebay…I buy a lot of seeds/plants there. I usually try to purchase from vendors specializing in plants/seeds with over 98% positive reviews. It’s worked well for me so far…
      As for cuttings, my next post will be about them. I’m trying a new system this year and will be cloning tropical milkweed and possible goose plant cuttings. Cuttings are MUCH easier to grow than seedlings and they won’t succumb to the elements like fragile seedlings.
      We had garden monarchs through October 1st and the majority of these late season monarchs preferred annual plants. After seeing what a combination of native/exotic plants can do, I can’t imagine sticking only to native…to each their own.
      Good luck with starting seeds indoors! It will give you a nice head start on the season.
  3. JOYCEANN VOGT says:
    Where can I purchase the seeds? tks.

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