On the other hand, the Tropical plants have produced strong, live, healthy Monarchs. The rest were deformed and sick. They are beautiful creatures and would love to do my part to increase their lives . The caterpillars are very large and will be cocooning themselves soon. We have been a resource for interested active people wanting to help the Monarch and restore its “NATURAL” habitat for the past 13 years. So far I’ve noted that EVERY ONE of the events he warned about has come to pass exactly on the timetable he laid out. They spread from adult butterflies to caterpillars by being shed near or on eggs and being ingested by the caterpillars. I have not found that monarchs lay eggs too late on tropical milkweed in Minnesota. They can sit for up to 24 hours before they molt…they usually eat their old skin afterwards. My survival rate is always between 95-100% and the few that didn’t make it over the past few years have all been from predation or freak accidents. I planted the tropical milkweed because it was what was available in the few nurseries around here that even carried milkweed. The winner is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed I can’t argue that tropical lasting longer than the Common is a benefit if the Monarchs artificially wait around longer. More Tropical Milkweed Growing  Info and Resources, Growing Milkweed in Continuous Growing Regions, More Info on the Tropical Milkweed Controversy, Filed Under: Butterfly Garden Ideas, Container Garden Ideas, Milkweed Garden Ideas, Minnesota Garden Ideas, Monarch Butterflies, Organic Gardening, Raising Monarchs, Starting A Garden Tagged With: asclepias curassavica, monarch migration, tropical milkweed, tropical milkweed issues, tropical milkweed problems, We live in SW West Virginia (Jackson Co.). Monarch expert Karen Oberhauser from the University of Minnesota recently did a Q & A for Journey North and this is what she had to say about Asclepias curassavica: “When tropical milkweed is planted in the coastal southern U.S. and California, these plants continue to flower and produce new leaves throughout the fall and winter, except during rare freeze events. Kim Frey Milkweed, like this swamp milkweed, is a double-duty plant for monarchs. Thirty years ago we seen more and earlier caterpillars, but a lot has change in the environment . The tropical are doing fantastic. This year, however, none of my plants are blooming. Viridis and asperula are also supposed to be popular host plants in Texas. They get onto the mesh and then climb up the wall and end up on the roof of the butterfly habitat. Hi Robin, there are problems with monarchs that are UNIQUE to areas like central/south Florida and southern California. Kevin, I raise caterpillars on leaves, cuttings, and potted plants. We tagged 200. There is no way that the OE spores can be spread to adult monarchs nectaring on tropical milkweed flowers. You could also try staggering the cuttings so there is always some available milkweed in the garden. As of now I have 20 chrysalis and 20 caterpillars close to pupating. Their caterpillars eat differently when compared to Danaus plexippus plexippus, our migrating monarchs. Most of the Milkweed I have is the Tropical kind. Monarchs that are in diapause are not changed and trapped by the presence of ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA . I feel that anyone re-growing tropical milkweed after rearing caterpillars, is being somewhat irresponsible, maybe selfish. We don’t get snow here. Our garden is small, so many of the true natives just won’t do in our garden. Milkweed plants contain small traces of cardenolides, bitter chemicals monarchs store in their bodies to discourage predators, which associate the butterflies’ distinctive colouration with bad taste. Milkweed is not a cause. Most have perished within days of bringing them home. We have to have a “label” to distinguish the various types of gardeners. Also, there is a recommended stores section at the bottom of the page: I planted tropical milkweed (just labeled milkweed at the nursery) in my garden in New Orleans and now I’m worried because there are at least 10-15 caterpillars and lots of crysalises all over the garden. I live about 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in the Panhandle of Florida. However, when given a choice, their favorite milkweed by far, is the Asclepias incarnata, common name: Swamp milkweed. We live in the Bay Area of California and launch 20-50 monarchs from our kitchen every year with only two or three that fail to thrive or fail to launch. This year I released over 300 monarchs, and my neighbor released over 100. Further south, Asclepias curassavica attracts even more pollinators…. The writer slams those who prefer to use native plants in their garden. Many for FREE. I try to offer people options instead of ultimatums, but some people have issues with the responsible gardening approach. This is 6 times the OE levels of the monarch population returning from Mexico. I definitely have > 95% success but then, I collect the eggs every evening. I would try cleaning cuttings with water first. The obvious remedy seems to be to not plant Mexican milkweed at all, in favor of planting native milkweeds. Johnson joins conservationists in urging gardeners to cut tropical milkweed to the ground by the beginning of September. In the fall, monarchs use two principal flyways that could bring them through the Dallas area during the last days of September and also starting the third week of October, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. There may be more to be known than we know yet. Are you saying that two wrongs make a right? I think more people will be willing to listen then and we can all get back to helping save monarchs and their amazing migration. I have seen many caterpillars but never a pupa. "Those mama monarch butterflies know from evolution what leaves are right for their little baby caterpillars," Johnson says. Some people just want to focus on problems and worst case scenarios. A Tropical Solution: I don’t see a problem here but non-native plants are best used for complementing your natives…not replacing them! They seem to prefer it to all the other nectar plants in the garden. Is that a good idea? You might try swamp milkweed if your region get’s lots of rain…it’s a popular nectar flower and host plant. Milkweed is the poster plant for pollinator gardens. I’ve let the number of caterpillars that occur on each milkweed species guide me as to what to increase the next year. I am going to plant tropical again this year after thinking long and hard about it this winter. Keep in mind, monarchs that were tagged in California have been recovered in Mexico, disproving the theory that all western monarchs migrate to coastal California. As you know, it seeds a lot so it may become invasive. Why has this non-native become a staple in so many North American butterfly gardens? Skepticism over scientific results is healthy and essential to the process. So what do folks who are into purely native plants want to be called? A Few Bad Milkweeds I started heart leaf milkweeds, they are hard to start, my one plant is small, it is nice and it will if it survives it will be a beautiful plant. Would hate to read about the hypothesis that giving shelter to and feeding the homeless is hurting them too. For instance, goldenrod flowering coincides with Monarch migration. I’m not sure what you can do to stop them besides spreading milkweed patches around your garden so some go undetected or bring in a few to raise indoors: I have a hearty patch of Tropical Mikkweed in my yard in Houston. He researches and raises native plants suitable for Dallas-area gardens that attract pollinators, including bees, hummingbirds, beneficial insects and butterflies. Every word you wrote was intended to insult him. Oh, I forgot to say that I live about an hour north of Atlanta, GA. The issue in your region is that it’s continuously growing so it needs to be cut back because pathogens and OE spores can build up on the plants…unfortunately, many predators seem to have adapted to the toxins in all milkweed. They hide them pretty well, but keep in mind, less than 5% survive outdoors mostly due to predation…. Generally, plants that produce broad, flat flowers make good landing pads, such as daisies, zinnias and coneflowers. Why Grow Milkweed Plants? We had a real issue this year with wasps. ),” the scientists said in a statement released in January following the milkweed kerfuffle. Hello! * Select milkweed plants that have aphids on them. Please help. At this point I 90-95% make it from egg to BF. Hope you can help me. Spores on milkweed don’t move to new buds and shoots. You don’t need to remove them, but consider cutting them back to the ground in late winter/early spring and fall. I am concerned about this because I had cut my plants down, I had almost entirely new growth, I was feeding with the leaves from that new growth. If you’d like to reach your raising potential, check out my updated monarch raising guide where I share personal raising tips and techniques that allow us to consistently raise monarchs with a 95% survival rate: Raise More Monarchs with Less Effort and At Least a 90% Survival Rate. We have quite a few of these bugs. The migration should be peaking in your region: Had over 30 monarch chrysalis last December here in louisiana. Hi Margaret, butterflies need to hang to dry their wings when they emerge from a chrysalis so pupating inside a seed pod would not work…seed pods split when the seeds are mature. Hope this helps: Overwintering Tropical Butterfly Plants Indoors. Here’s more info on overwintering plants and tropical stem cuttings. Tropical milkweed is Asclepias curassavica, and you were growing Asclepias tuberosa, which is a suitable milkweed for monarchs … The “Crown Flower” plant is more popular for raising Monarchs here, but that plant takes more room. It might be pretty easy to bring one of the plants inside and take care of them that way. When my last two monarchs emerged in December, there was nothing blooming. If you put common in a place where it can be easily controlled, you will learn to appreciate it more. Science is presently in a state of crisis due to its failure (p-values [probability values]to replicate). Most native species of milkweed are spent at this late date save A incarnata. There are additional threats to monarch butterflies, such as the use of herbicides and pesticides. Just today I cut back to about 12 inches but was reluctant to cut further as I still have at least a 5 or 6 ts on my 8 or 10 plants. So, if its also their “medicine cabinet” as well as their food, all the better. Thank you all for your thoughtful comments and for caring to be involved. I live in north central WI and have seen many chrysalises that became frozen because the monarchs try right up to the end , maybe this is normal and helps to keep the constant reproduction cycles going on during the summers until they migrate. Hi Nancy, we keep our plants under grow lights. This is a list of some of the potential milkweeds you can try in your region…I’m sure some will be more successful than others. Media Marketing/Shutterstock A monarch butterfly lands on a swamp milkweed plant. Next year, you might consider cutting back earlier or (if you still need the milkweed) covering the patch so this doesn’t happen again. I have several tropical milkweed plants. Hi Jessica, in your region this should be fine. We probably won’t have our first freeze until late december, and who knows… it might be a temperate winter, but I just can’t stand the thought of all those potential butterflies freezing to death in their crysalises. Monarch butterfly nectaring on common milkweed. Right now, I would concentrate on building up your milkweed supply for future monarchs…good luck! When monarchs hatch with deformed wings, this usually indicates high levels of OE. I agree that “responsible diversity” is a reasonable goal in a garden setting. Protect these plants until after the seed has set and spread, and until after the chrysalises have hatched into adult Monarchs. Luckily the frost was not until almost the end of Dec. so I had milkweed to feed them, they went into chrysalis a little before Xmas and stayed in for quite some time. If milkweed leaves get infested with bugs or start looking diseased I would cut back those parts of the plant and discard them. In turn, the spores drop onto the milkweed plants to infect the next monarch that comes into contact with the plant. First, central and south Florida have a year round population of butterflies so it stands to reason that some don’t migrate. The tropical milkweed monarch larvae ended up with lower parasite loads! To lessen the confusion, always go by the plant's scientific name. After raising one set of caterpillars in the early summer, we let nature take its course; there have been monarch butterflies in the garden constantly. Hi Michele, up north I have noticed that the younger plants always look healthier. While there is plenty of science for all to read, people can read and make up their own minds, I stopped at this website because it appeared an importabt conversation was taking place. Eggs were laid on both types of plants. We ask that before unsupported speculation further disrupts public opinion about milkweeed and the planting of NATIVE ASCLEPIAS CURASSAVICA that writers show real evidence, not just pose question and other’s actions. It is in trouble and we can all do our little parts to help. I was just so excited to watch her lay eggs and then watch the metamorphosis of the caterpillars. There are issues with growing both native and non-native milkweeds. You probably aren’t in that camp, but in case you’re interested: Raise MORE Monarchs with LESS Effort and AT LEAST a 90% Survival Rate. There is a woman in Texas that has a permit to receive chrysalides in the mail if you want to ship them. [During monarch migration] flight is fueled by nectaring on the flowers and is punctuated by laying eggs on milkweeds. Your system sounds fine. Hi Scott, the immediate issue I see with this research is that syriaca isn’t a viable speices in late summer and fall because the leaves are too tough…it’s an excellent early milkweed though! We did have a temp drop 2 days ago and after this is when some of them have died or started acting sluggish. There is a reason and it’s not just by happenstance. Then on the website someone in the neighborhood who was a retired docent from a local wetlands sanctuary started posting objections to my seed distribution, same issue, about growing non-natives. its a great book, but very science orientated. We went to the event the sanctuary had mid February to say good bye to the migrating Monarchs, but most were already gone and there were so few to start with, there were barely any left. For the past 5 years growing tropical  in Minnesota, late egg laying has never been an issue. I will continue to monitor this in 2014 and beyond. I have grown sick and tired of having my ethics and morals questioned because I choose to grow some non-native plants in a controlled garden setting (in Minnesota!). So Tropical is a GO. I have seen at least 10 split green milkweed seedpods. You know that, & yet you continue to use this term. Click to see full answer Also question is, which milkweed is bad for monarchs? While awareness is rising around the… And you yourself were more annoying and insulting than the author could EVER hope to be. Is Tropical Milkweed less toxic than other varieties? Hi Deanne, I think tropical milkweed is a good option for smaller gardens because you need to maximize your space with long blooming, viable plants. Contact him at 214-584-0565, organicrandy@gmail.com and Randy Johnson Organics on Facebook. If there is enough good quality Swamp Milkweed I will use it instead of the tropical variety until after the first instar, and then they are fed almost exclusively on Tropical Milkweed. We will not be able to work together if we begin the conversation with name calling. We capture the seeds and let the pods dry out over the winter. (PS. I would make a list of a few options that sound interesting and then talk to local gardeners or nurseries to see what works best for them. Now that they have moved on, my plants have re-flowered, and hopefully have been pollinated. anyhow, do you think it could be OE? I keep up with my tropical milkweed, keep it cut back, and I use a mild bleach solution on the leaves I feed the cats (when I briefly stopped cleaning them with bleach, a large majority of my monarchs eclosed with deformities). This will give you fully mature milkweed plants to start next monarch season…and cuttings to start new plants! There are many people in this country who like native plants & have them in their landscapes to benefit the insects they have evolved with for thousands of years. Many milkweed types are difficult to grow especially from seed… so say many we have heard from, us included. This is the reason Tropical milkweed (Asclepias curassavica), an introduced species native to Mexico, is developing a bad reputation among monarch biologists and conservation organizations. Because of this milkweed diversity we see and support many monarchs throughout the season. “Mom knows best!”. I am coming from another angle. They got excited too (most posts are usually about the drug and theft problems around here, so happy news was a welcome relief) I got requests for seeds from my neighbors so I packaged up saved seeds from my tropical milkweeds and zinnias to give out for free. My question is can we get away with just thoroughly rinsing the stems and leaves under a strong cold spray of water from a shower-head spray, and “squeegeeing” each leaf between thumb and forefinger under running water — that should physically (not chemically) remove any OE spores, right? By late November, they should have been safely in their overwintering sites in Mexico, not stalled in North Texas. I have the original plants that I planted from the nursery, and, now, I have dozens of “volunteer” plants that have sprouted on their own. Sure enough, we have 45 eggs. The problem is that sometimes on a busy workweek when you’re running off to work in the morning and you have time to cut and rinse some fresh milkweed for the Hungry Hordes, but you may not have time to get out the bleach and the big stainless steel mixing bowl and rinse everything clean and mix up the 5% solution and do the whole rigarmarole, and then clean up the whole assemblage … so instead of doing nothing, can we just use a strong shower-head needle-spray of cold water and use fingers to wipe off anything that might be on the leaves? From an article via U of Georgia: …” Dormant spores on the outside of the female’s abdomen are scattered on the eggs and milkweed leaves.”…. here is the group where you can find info about shipping chrysalides. Hi Deanne, I am still holding out hope for tuberosa….I even moved some last year to see if a new spot makes it more inviting to the monarchs. Showy, Swamp Milkweed and tropical. There is one research project which demonstrated smaller butterflies from A. curassavica: http://www.monarchlab.org/Lab/app/upload/pdf/testerkristina12TEAMpaper-1.pdf. This past Spring was cooler and wetter, and I had fewer seedlings sprout, and an abundance of caterpillars that severely denuded the surviving plants, resulting in far fewer seeds for me to gather. We grow 75 tropical and 500 swamp, showy, and common. Monarchs favor a variety of milkweeds, and in fact, with variety they’ll lay more eggs. Overuse isn’t an issue with native milkweeds is because the native leaves are only viable/desirable during the earlier parts of their growth cycle. * Cut down Mexican milkweed stalks no later than early September, so females migrating through will not lay eggs on it. I have a large yard with over 100 tropical fruit trees and I also keep bees and so I started planting some extra nectar plants for them and then remembered that monarchs like milkweed as it seems do all the nectar eating insects and so I planted one tropical milkweed. I am an avid gardener, have a yard of primarily native plants (am trying to do the right thing for the environment). I actually like tropical milkweed and have planted it three seasons in a row here in Maryland. This way, there’ll always be some milkweed available for unexpected monarch visitors. Freaked me out. Everything has been hypothesized that is just a question without an answer or may still be wrong. I use the pots with mesh cages. In North Texas, Mexican milkweed usually is killed by the first hard freeze. I have been raising Monarchs and hosting eggs, caterpillars, chyrsalises, and big beautiful PERFECT butterflies. Hi Ana, check out some of the milkweed options on the link below. Since you are in a continuous growing region, cutting back plants also removes built up OE spores on plants. In some years, I have had viable tropical milkweed for WEEKS after the monarchs have migrated. Among them, 5-foot-tall Mexican milkweed plants bordered the driveway near the front door. I have seen a great increase in natural populations of checked and orange skippers and then there are the cabbage whites. Raise Monarchs on Milkweed Cuttings– raising monarch butterflies is an awe-inspiring experience, and a much simpler one using potted milkweed plants. 2016 Update- with more gardeners planting tropical milkweed, the overwintering population in Mexico grew 3.5 times: from 57 million monarchs…to 200 million! There’s a plethora autumn blooming flowers that attract Monarchs & many other butterfly species: asters (like New England, New York…), goldenrods, sunflowers, coneflowers, Autumn Joy sedum…. I have offered solutions to those potential problems, but have caught a lot of flack for taking this position the past few years. I released 178 Monarchs this year with over 90% survival rate thanks to Monarch Butterfly Life. I’m not sure of the success rates but I’m guessing you would need an environment similar to what they experience overwintering in the wild for optimum health…glad to hear you will be cutting back your milkweed this season. I gave away many plants to people who wouldn’t have been willing to deal with A. syriaca. I wrote a guide to outline my exact process because I know many people have issues with dying caterpillars and butterflies. Asclepias curassavica thrives as a potted plant. And, I watched wasps bite into 5th instar larva and destroy it. I didn’t even know this was a concern, so then I researched the California natives, most are highly invasive (yes as roadside weeds they are fine, but not great for a garden) I did find that heart leaf milkweed is a non-invasive native, it grows naturally up in the Santa Cruz mountains, but I am in that area that isn’t the beach and not up in the mountains sort of a foothill area maybe. Quote from WarGames comes to mind: “The only winning move is not to play.”. This is a potential problem for those in US coastal regions including Florida, Texas, and Southern California. I recommend raising from egg, using cuttings (which is recommended in my book), and thoroughly rinsing all milkweed before serving. 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