Part II of my small miracles day doesn’t have the beauty of the newly hatched Swallowtail butterfly, but it will help facilitate more miracles. I grow dill and other host plants for Swallowtail butterflies each year. This season I was determined to also grow plants for Monarchs.
I have managed to sprout some milkweed seeds by the winter-sowing method. Because I know the milkweed has a tap-root I chose to sow the seeds in peat pots and enclosed them in a recycled food container during the winter months. They have sprouted. I will get them in the ground as soon as possible so that the tap-root will not be disturbed and the plants will have a better chance at survival.
Asclepias syriaca: Common milkweed is the host plant for Monarch butterflies.
“Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.” ~ Monarch Joint Venture
I know the assessment of Monarch Joint Venture is true. I can name three parcels of land within a mile or two of my home where I once saw milkweed. All three have been built upon, weed whacked, or decimated by the relentless need to clear land for business purposes. I’m sure this same problem is rampant across the country.
Due to the loss of habitat for monarchs, this year I collected a bit of seed from a milkweed patch to grow in my gardens. I’ll be planting the sprouts soon so that the long root can develop unhindered. I also have several milkweed seeds in my freezer. I’ll plant a few in my garden beds and also find some areas near me where they might have a chance to grow. If you want to participate in helping Monarch butterflies survive and thrive you can find some good tips here: Monarch Butterfly Garden.