Some of the Story
The Monarch Butterfly cannot complete its lifecycle without milkweed as it is the only plant their baby caterpillars will eat.
Fifteen species of milkweed are native to California and it is important to plant only native species if we are to help the Monarch on their migratory path. These plants play a crucial role in supporting a wide range of pollinators including Monarch Butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds.
Know what NOT to plant
In addition to native species, there have been 3 non-native milkweeds brought into California:
Asclepias Curassavica, aka Tropical Milkweed or Blood Flower
Asclepias Fruticosa, aka Narrowleaf cotton bush, Swan bush, Swan plant, or Swan milkweed
Asclepias Tuberosa, aka Butterfly Weed
While both the Tropical Milkweed and Butterfly Weed are widely available in California nurseries, there is a debate among scientists about these non-native species and their potentially harmful impact on wildlife and native plant communities. Both the Butterfly Weed and Tropical Milkweed have brilliant orange flowers and do attract Monarchs. The problem is that these tropical milkweed species can interfere with Monarch migration and reproduction. In some areas, just the presence of tropical milkweed may confuse monarchs into breeding at a time when they should be migrating.
So if you want to help the Monarchs and plant some milkweed in California, as a general rule, you want to select the pink, purple and white blossomed species – not the plants with orange or red flowers.
Grow these types in California
Due to their ability to grow in a wide range of conditions, we will be focusing our initial restoration efforts on three California native species of milkweeds. Namely, narrow-leaved, showy and heartleaf.
For now. this is what we know. Our forums are a great place to post questions and get answers too. Check it out here.
It takes a lot of milkweed to grow a lot of Monarchs
Play the game below to see how much