|Posters depicting migration patterns and life cycle of Monarch butterflies.|
|Common milkweed, just gearing up!|
|Common Milkweed, just getting started for the year.|
Tuberosa is probably the least toxic variety, but it stays very low. Swamp milkweed will get three to six feet tall (as does common milkweed) and likes wet feet, as you might have guessed. Great addition to a rain garden, if you've got one going. Mine, in clay soil on a slope, has yet to get above the three foot mark. I'd love to try Asclepias humistrata, which is evergreen--but it likes things hot and dry. Not going to get that in THIS county! Browse the link below for varieties that are native to and will succeed in your area.
|Asclepias Tuberosa--blooms starting to form.|
Any and all milkweeds will benefit more than monarchs--they are of "special value" to native bees, bumble bees and honey bees, as well. This designation--"special value"-- means that pollination ecologists have documented large numbers of native bees/bumble bees/honey bees using these plants. So if you know somebody who farms or just has a little vegetable garden, these would be beneficial to those efforts, as well!
Wikipedia had this to say about the status of milkweed in modern agriculture: "Historically throughout the US corn belt, Milkweed has flourished between crop rows. Genetically modified corn and soy beans are resistant to glyphosate (RoundUp), so spraying on these GMO crops has largely eradicated Milkweed on millions of acres and is destroying much of the Monarch butterfly population. Along with bees, Monarch butterflies are one of the principal pollinating insects in North America." Yet another reason to buy organic produce.
As a closing remark, beyond planting your own milkweed, let me encourage you to support monarch programs in schools. You can help out by purchasing a kit for your favorite school or child here.
More posts on this topic: Invincible Vines for an Invincible Lady, Planning a Monarch Waystation, Fauna of the Week: Monarch Butterfly, Not the Day I Planned
Sources: Monarch Watch, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Wikipedia