If you love Monarch butterflies then you must love milkweed. It is the only plant that the Monarchs lay their eggs on and the only plant that they eat as caterpillars.
The two favorites of the Monarch are (in this order) Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed — and we have both available for you to buy this weekend.
Saturday, August 9, 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monarchs are here and they’re laying eggs in gardens across Loudoun – even on plants that were just planted this past spring! If you need more milkweed plants (common milkweed or swamp milkweed) come to our plant sale and get what you need.
All plants are $3 each and are ready for planting and welcoming in the monarchs! We’ll have Monarch handouts and rearing cages available.
You’ll find us at Morven Park in the big parking lot on Southern Planter Lane. The address is 17263 Southern Planter Lane, Leesburg. Questions: Contact Nicole Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These native milkweed plants are perennial – so plant them now and they’ll not only grow and thrive this year but also come back year after year to welcome the Monarchs to your garden.
All plants are $3 each.
In addition to planting milkweed at home, look around — do you see an open sunny grassy spot?
Those spots are wastelands — but you can convert them to a rich healthy habitat by planting a native garden that will come back year after year.
If you go to a church or live in a community with shared open space/landscaping, chat with people you know about creating a Monarch waystation together. It can save maintenance money and look beautiful.
Here are two quick tip sheets to help with planning:
10′x10′ sample garden plot — a rough estimate of cost, number of plants and a grid to plan a 10′x10′ garden (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/PDF_Files/Sample-plot.pdf)
Top 15 native plants list — Milkweed plus native nectar plants make a waystation — easy and perennial! (http://www.loudounwildlife.org/PDF_Files/Monarchs_Plants_for_Waystations.pdf)
I’ve been walking through milkweed patches, flipping over leaves, looking for chew marks, searching for eggs. So far, nada…no Monarch caterpillars….
But, the milkweed is looking good in our area and we’re slowly getting reports of sightings of Monarchs (although not really in Loudoun yet). A few Monarch caterpillars (5) have been found in the Reston/Herndon area so I know they are around us, we just have to get out there and find them.
In the meantime, as I walked along a glorious patch of milkweed that lines a trail at the Phillips Farm in Waterford, a little poem came together that I thought I’d share with you:
An Ode to Milkweed
by Nicole Hamilton
Milkweed growing oh so strong,
welcoming Monarchs with your fragrant song!
Leaves so tasty, green and bright,
filling caterpillars with certain delight!
Life will grow on leaf and stem,
then flutter off to begin again.
Milkweed, milkweed growing strong,
thank you for bringing Monarchs along!
There have been reports of 3 Monarch butterflies in Loudoun so far – two in Purcellville and one in Round Hill. So — keep an eye on your milkweed patch!
The aroma of the milkweed wafts up into the air and Monarchs flying by smell it. Check your milkweed for eggs and caterpillars. Monarchs are moving through albeit at very low numbers. If you have any sightings, report them to Journey North here but also email Nicole Hamilton at email@example.com
Chip Taylor of Monarch Watch just put out a very insightful and data rich report of the Monarch population, giving us an idea of what to expect this year. It’s well worth the read:
Monarchs are off to a slow start this year, with the number moving north in May at an all time low. Chip Taylor, Director of Monarch Watch, provides detailed analysis, explains why we will see very few monarchs this year and predicts that the wintering population in Mexico could be lower this coming winter than it was in 2012-2013.
Read the full report here:
Last December as we got the wheels spinning for our Monarch Butterfly campaign, we placed an order for milkweed with Monarch Watch — 2200 plants!
As you know, milkweed is the only plant the Monarch eats as a caterpillar. If you do not have milkweed, then you will not have Monarchs. Needless to say, I love milkweed !
So how did the plants that we ordered come to be? Last fall, volunteers from our area collected milkweed seeds and sent them to Monarch Watch for propagation and the opportunity to help get more milkweed plants planted across our region.
It’s exciting that the plants that we ordered are from our area because those seeds know our climate and soils and are best suited for being planted here in our Monarch Waystation gardens. It gives these plants a leg up.
The seeds were carefully cared for and planted in January and the growing began! Like expectant parents, many of us eagerly awaited updates and photos from Chip Taylor on the developing seedlings.
Then, on May 7th, I got an email from Chip, simply titled, “Here they come”. He had been over to the nursery checking on the plants and snapped a few shots to share with us.
The seedlings had already been trimmed once to encourage growth and this was their robust regrowth – bright and green!
That’s when I sprung into action and reached out to all the teachers who had expressed interest in creating a Monarch Waystation garden at their schools. So far, 20 schools are jumping in to this – which is pretty exciting!
On May 15th, I received another email from Chip – this time with the subject, “great photos”. Indeed, it was great! Our plants were all packed up and ready to come home!
With sweaty palms, I tracked their trip from Kansas and talked with Chip and the grower, Elliott, from Applied Ecological, almost every day. One challenge that popped up was that we needed a place with a forklift in order to receive the plants since they were packed on pallets and coming via semi-truck.
To cut to the chase, we ended up having them delivered to a plumbing supply company in Leesburg, VAMAC. Charles and James at VAMAC were so understanding and so helpful – we really thank them for their help!
On Monday, May 20th I received the call from VAMAC saying “Your plants arrived!”. My husband Gil hooked up his trailer and we went over to get the plants. Mona Miller then came over and we unloaded and unpacked them, and got them ready for teachers to come over and pick them up.
So today and tomorrow most of these plants will be winging their way off to places across Loudoun – local seeds that went to Kansas, grew up big and strong, and came back home to put down roots and welcome Monarch Butterflies (and 457 other species) to enjoy their bounty.
After the requests from schools have been filled, we will be selling the remaining plants to anyone who is interested in planting them. No milkweed shall go unplanted!
If you are interested in buying some of these plants, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They must be picked up though – these guys have had enough shipping experiences
Thank you Chip Taylor and everyone at Monarch Watch for making these available and Elliott at Applied Ecological for growing such gorgeous plants and being a part of the solution in Bringing Back the Monarch, Keeping the Magic Alive!
And thank you Dulles Greenway! The Drive for Charity funds are making this donation of plants to schools and the kickoff of this Monarch campaign possible!
More photos from this milkweed adventure can be seen here.