Friday, April 4, 2014

Plant Profile-Native Milkweed

Today we are continuing our focus on Florida-friendly plants.  
This is a favorite of many a gardener.

Native Milkweed

This workhorse provides beauty for the gardener,
as well as a home for some fascinating critters.

Its flowers attract butterflies and pollinators alike.
Once established, it is drought tolerant
and does well with minimal care.

The blooms add a pleasant pop of color in the garden nearly year-round.
While it does best in full sun,
it tolerates partial shade just fine.

These cuties thrive on milkweed.
It is the host plant for the monarch caterpillar.

It's important to plant native milkweed.
There are over 2,000 native species of this plant in North America alone,
although less than 30 are used as host plants by monarchs.
You can find a great explanation of the varieties here.

The seed pods will open and, with the help of a gentle breeze,
distribute seeds in other parts of the garden.
This plant is easily germinated, so feel free to share the goodness!

The milkweed is used by the monarch butterfly to lay its eggs.
When the caterpillars emerge from the eggs,
they feed on the leaves of the plant.
As they grow, they shed their skin.


Then, they form this spectacular chrysalis
in which to reinvent themselves.

A week to 10 days later,
it looks like this.


It's an amazing sight to behold.
We will soon be spying many more monarchs,
as the temperatures climb into the 80's on a regular basis.

We plan to give caterpillars away again on Craig's List,
something we started doing last year.
It's wonderful to see the fascination in the eyes of the folks who come to retrieve them.
We explain the life cycle and send them off with
their own nature study in hand.
This year, we may have starter plants to give them as well. 
We are happy to provide this opportunity for learning.

"By learning you will teach, by teaching you will learn."

Want to be part of this intriguing process?
You can find a list of native milkweeds by state here.

Week One-Bulbine

From The Farm Blog Hop

Homestead Barn Hop

Backyard Farming Connection


  1. Beautiful pictures. I now have literally a hundred or more milkweed plants sprouting thanks to their generous re-seeding nature. And in my opinion, a hundred isn't too much. I've seen Monarchs all year round here (albeit just a handful over winter) and I'm certain it's because of these jewels. I've also noticed ladybugs throughout the winter this year and I'm thinking maybe the milkweed had a hand in that too (aphids love them nearly as much as the monarchs).

    Great post!


    1. So glad the monarchs have found a home with you. Ladybugs are such a boon to the garden. Enjoy!

  2. Daisy, here in Nebraska Milkweed is considered just that, a weed. After finding out their importance to the Monarch butterfly, I'm amazed that we have any here. Some where they must get their milkweed fix because it's not something that folks around here put in their garden or flower bed. I didn't know that it was required for the Monarch's survival until just a couple years ago. Coming from a Midwest row crop farming community, we hoed them, pulled them, sprayed them, any thing that would increase the production of the row crop. Sad but true, I was totally indoctrinated with the modern farming practices. Over the last couple decades, my view on how to grow food has drastically changed. I would never claim to be an organic grower but light years closer than from my row crop farming days.

    Have a great Monarch butterfly day.

    1. We learn everyday, that's what matters. Enjoy your weekend!

  3. Thanks for your informative post. Florida gardeners are quite spoiled with our steady Monarch population. Interestingly, just yesterday another gardener and I were discussing the many varieties of milkweed. We both noted that Florida's most available native (Asclepias tuberosa) does not seem to be successfully grown by most gardeners unfortunately. The more tropical variety that is very easy to grow ( (Asclepias currasivica) is the one we see most often in nurseries and our gardens. Here's another great write up about native milkweed you might enjoy:

    1. Thanks for the link and for stopping by! Hope all is well with you this glorious spring!

    2. Such amazing photos and what a wonderful idea!!

    3. It's all about the sharing...

  4. Wow, such a cool plant. I know we have it here, but I guess I've never seen the flowers. They're so pretty! Or maybe our variety doesn't have flowers like that? I actually learned about the milkweed and monarchs on a cartoon the kids watch. Ha! Pretty amazing. How cool that you give them away!

    1. I'm pretty sure every state has their own version. It's a lot of fun to share them with people!

  5. Very amazing post. Ill have to lool for that plant!

  6. I have read that the monarchs are few and far between lately due to milkweed shortage ( suburban sprawl etc ) so this is such a wonderful post to see! :)

    1. Yes, we have an abundance of milkweed for that very purpose! ;0)


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