Who Wants to Have Monarch Butterflies in their Garden?

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Imagine only surviving on one food source?  Seems impossible, right?  Most of us would get sick and tired of only eating one type of food, but Monarch butterflies are different.  Not only do Monarch butterflies exclusively use the foliage of Milkweed to lay their eggs it is the only food source for Monarch caterpillars before they transform to butterflies.

Monarch Butterfly Egg on Milkweed Leaf
Monarch Butterfly Egg on Milkweed Plant.

 

Milkweed is found all over the U.S. and can aggressively spread given the right conditions. The flowers and heights of Milkweed vary by species with more than 140 different Milkweeds in the U.S.

Here in New Jersey, there are two common Milkweeds that one can easily find in the landscape or in someone’s garden.  The first is considered a weed by Rutgers NJ Ag Extension Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) but highly treasured for feeding the Monarchs.

common milkweed NJ
Common Milkweed with Flower Buds

 

I find the transformation of the Common Milkweed to be fascinating especially when it goes to seed.  I have planted Common Milkweed in my garden with poor success in growth.  This is surprising since it is easy to grow and will tolerate most soils.  Common Milkweed loves direct sun and self-seeds.

Another type of Milkweed that you will see in NJ is Orange Milkweed or Butterfly Weed (Asclepius tuberose.)  Orange Milkweed is short at 1 to 1 ½ feet tall and has a profusion of small bright orange flowers.  Common Milkweed in comparison is tall about 3 to 5 feet tall with it climbing even higher.

orange milkweed plant
Close up of Orange Milkweed Flower

 

 

Wasp on orange milkweed princeton nj
Wasp on Orange Milkweed Flowers

 

Since you can grow Milkweed all over the U.S. check out http://monarchwatch.org/bring-back-the-monarchs/milkweed/milkweed-regions-seed-needs/ what type of Milkweed does best in your region or http://monarchbutterflygarden.net/milkweed-plant-seed-resources/ to get resources where to buy milkweed along with photos of many of the varieties.

milkweed seeds in pod
Common Milkweed Seeds in Dried Pod

 

Milkweed Seeds in Pod NJ
Milkweed emerging from dried seed pod.
Common Milkweed Seeds blowing in breeze
Common Milkweed seeds ready to self seed.
raindrops on Milkweed Seeds
Raindrops on Milkweed Seeds.
Raindrops on Milkweed Seed NJ
Raindrops on a Milkweed Seed.

 

 

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