Category Archives: Milkweed

Free Milkweed Seeds

monarch-800I have some milkweed seeds that I’d be glad to share. The seeds are Tropical Milkweed, Asclepias curassavica. Plant the seed so it is slightly covered and keep warm and moist to start. If you start these inside, you can get a a head start on spring. Plant when all danger of frost is gone – usually around May 1st in St. Louis Missouri.

Another option is to plant these in the soil and let them come up naturally.
Send a SASE – Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope to:

Free Milkweed Seeds
9016 Robyn Rd
St. Louis, MO 63126

The best way to start these seeds is with bottom heat. 

80-degrees-covered

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80 degrees and seeds slightly covered seems to be the best. I did put the plastic top on this to keep in the heat and moisture.

 

 

 

Here’s the procedure I use.

3 Comments

Filed under Free, Milkweed, Seeds

113,000 Seeds – $17.59

monarchs-milkweed
asclepias-113000I just found a deal on milkweed seeds that I thought I’d share. I just bought 113,000 asclepias curassavica seeds for just $17.59.

I got them from MyDirtyGardener.com. The link will take you to this offer.

asclepias-oregon-800Note – the main Monarch migration is going through St. Louis right now, so get outside and enjoy this phenomenon.

3 Comments

Filed under Milkweed, Seeds

Saving Swamp Milkweed

What I’ve found with Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, in St. Louis MO is that it only lives for about three years, sometimes only two years in a typical home garden setting. While it prefers a wet-rain garden setting, all of my beds are raised for drainage and not ideal for this species.

One swamp milkweed that did spectacular last year, this year it now looks poorly and possibly dying. From my past experience I know that this plant will probably not make it next year. Here are a couple of pictures of the milkweed.

swamp-milkweed-dying-01

 

swamp-milkweed-dying-02What I’ve had success with in the past is cutting in back to six inches, digging up the root ball and separating it into individual plants. I will then keep them in pots for a month or two and make sure they are always moist. I then will plant it back in the garden.

swamp-milkweed-dying-03

swamp-milkweed-dying-04

swamp-milkweed-dying-05

Leave a comment

Filed under Milkweed

Milkweed Sources

milkweed-swamp

Finding milkweed for the Monarchs can be a daunting task if you limit yourself to your local big-box stores.

Monarch Watch has put together a list of over 250 vendors. You can download the list at this link.
http://monarchwatch.org/milkweed/market/milkweed-vendors.pdf

St. Louis Local Suppliers

2 Comments

Filed under Milkweed

Asclepias curassavica – Tropical Milkweed

Monarch-asclepias

This particular milkweed has been the focal point of some recent controversy, so I thought I would put together as much research as I could find on this Monarch favorite.

Definition – Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) is a protozoan parasite that infects Monarch and Queen butterflies.
 http://monarchparasites.uga.edu/whatisOE/

Karen Oberhauser indicates that in Southern and Costal States + California – that OE can be a problem as the plants don’t die and OE can build up. Some sites advise to cut it down to the ground at the end of the season if you are in one of the warmer climates.

Thanks to Andy S. with this article from SciencMag.org. It again talks about the Southern State problem with OE and what can be done.

Here’s a recent TedTalk which seems to indicate that Curassaivica is good for Monarchs and is in fact medicinal against OE.

I emailed Chip Taylor, a well known expert in this field, about this video and this is his response.

“I haven’t had time to view the TED but here is my take from what I know about the issues.
There is a twist to the story – or interpretation. Monarchs surviving on A.c. having acquired an infestation of spores – are able to mate and pass on the spores to offspring since spores would be transferred to the new eggs or surrounding leaves. Monarchs receiving similar doses of O.e. spores but which have fed on other milkweeds would likely die – ending transmission to the next generation.
If you follow this, O.e. is a self-limiting disease (but you will never hear the researchers talking about it in these terms). Mortality/viability is dose related. Too much and you are dead, a little bit and you live to carry to spores to the next gen. A.c. allows more to survive and hence favors spore transmission.
That’s an issue in the south where A.c. overwinters (almost exclusively in gardens so the scale of the problem is quite limited) where O.e. can build up on leaves. It is less likely to be an issue in the north. Cutting back A.c. in the south at least twice a yr is recommended. It wouldn’t hurt to do that in the north if expecting to produce more than one gen on A.c.”
Dr. Jeffrey Glassberg, the President of NABA, North American Butterfly Association, wrote an article in the Winter 2014 issue of American Butterflies. Here’s the PDF. He says, “There is little evidence to support the idea that planting Tropical Milkweed will weaken Monarch populations and NO evidence to support the idea that Tropical Milkweeds are trapping Monarchs and stopping them from migrating to Mexico.

Here is a AskNature Article with the same information as the video.

Cardenolides per Species – interesting that Curassaivica has a very high percentage.

  • Asclepias curassavica – 1055
  • Asclepias syriaca – 50
  • Asclepias incarnata – 14
  • Asclepias tuberosa – 3
  • Asclepias verticillata – 1

San Antonio note – I got this email from a woman who lives in San Antonio. She said, “Monarchs are staying at the A. currasavica milkweed patch on the San Antonio Riverwalk all winter.” If you also look at the map below, you will see a lot of Monarchs do seem to stay in the southern states over the winter. Curassavica does seem to be stopping these Monarchs from migrating.

 monarchs-jan-feb-2015

 

My summation –  it always makes sense to be aware of the OE problem and if in the South or California to take measures to limit use of Asclepias curassavica or at least cut it back a couple times a year. While only 8% of migrating Monarchs have OE, 85 % of the non-migrating Florida population have it. 

 

Comments Off on Asclepias curassavica – Tropical Milkweed

Filed under Disease, Milkweed, Monarchs

Winner – Asclepias Incarnata Soulmate

asclepias-incarnata-soulmat

While I had poor germination with these seeds. probably because they were not cold-stratified, the one which did germinate in March is a winner now at the beginning of August. Most of my regular Asclepias incarnata looks terrible – almost as if it is dying and I don’t know the reason. Most people I know don’t have good luck with this so-called perennial in St. Louis. This particular variety looks spectacular the first year and I’m amazed that it’s blooming this first year. I’ll definitely keep these seeds for planting this fall.

1 Comment

Filed under Host Plant, Milkweed

Monarchs – Back in St. Louis

monarch-female-LE02

I’ve finally had a female Monarch sighting in my garden and she was laying eggs. I saw about a dozen eggs laid, but there were probably more. If you look close at one picture, you will see all the aphids and white flies on the milkweed. I’m pretty sure they don’t have any impact on the larvae.

Instead of spreading my plants out, I put all my milkweed into one area to try and entice the Monarchs into my back yard. Most of the plants are tropical milkweed, but I also have incarnata and tuberosa.

monarch-female-LE01

2 Comments

Filed under Milkweed, Monarchs