|Monarch, ready to be released. Image credit.|
|Showy Milkweed in bloom|
|This is what seedlings should look like after placing the seeds in a damp paper-towel inside a zipper bag and refrigerating for thirty days.|
|To grow seedlings bigger, arrange in potting soil... |
|...and cover with about 1/4" soil. Be very careful with their fragile roots.|
|Seedlings after several more weeks...|
Though theoretically, you could transplant the seedlings into the ground at this point, they will have a much better chance of surviving if you pot them into larger pots and plant them into the ground once they have bigger root systems. With Adri's seedlings, we re-potted them two times through the summer until they were in half-gallon pots. These, we wintered-over by clustering the potted plants in a sunny spot in our yard, protected from cold, north winds under a blanket of fall leaves.
|Adri and Kaylynn with milkweed plants at about 120 days from putting seeds in fridge. Two plants per pot.|
|Milkweed plants wintered over two years in pots. Ready to get into the ground!|
This coming spring, we'll transplant them into a sunny spot. Aside from propagating from seeds, the roots also send out runners and start new plants. We have a patch of milkweeds that grew as volunteers from underneath the pots we'd wintered-over in a previous season!
|Life-cycle of the monarch butterfly (by Adri Kitchen).|
|Studies show that a mixed stand of wildflowers seems to be beneficial to monarchs (and probably to other pollinators too). In other words, it's not ideal to grow milkweed alone. Llyn with crocosmia (red) and tansy (yellow - a volunteer "weed" that, though reviled by horse-owners is beloved of bees! Super fragrant too!).|
|Plant at least a dozen milkweed plants together. This will help monarchs find them.|
|Milkweed seeds, ready for harvest.|
|Honey bee on tansy.|
|Image credit: Llyn Peabody - 2020|
Here's some great information from the National Wildlife
Federation on how to benefit birds and butterflies. When you're planning
your garden this coming spring, think of the monarchs! Check out
Xerces Society and Monarch Joint Venture for more information on
national efforts and ways you can help. Monarch Watch and Journey North
are two citizen science groups that record monarch and milkweed
sightings. For an interactive map that tracks seasonal migration, try Journey North There are monarch butterflies in the Willamette Valley, but we need more citizen science reporters!
Ways you can help right now?
1. Plant native milkweed: In Willamette Valley, that's showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) and narrow leafed milkweed (Asclepias fasciculatis)
2. Provide nectar
3. Don't use broad spectrum pesticides (https://monarchjointventure.
4. Reduce your lawn size
5. Support local efforts by educating others, advocating for different practices in your community, or become a citizen scientist
Great news! More monarch habitat in Wisconsin - LINK