An Update: Milkweeds for Monarchs Initiative

By Barb Elliot

In my March 23rd post, Monarchs: A Call to Action (see below) Edie and I offered milkweed plants for sale.  As I said then, the Monarch butterfly population is in sharp decline due to loss of habitat . We were inspired to join Monarch Watch’s ( national call to action.  To save this species we must plant more milkweeds, the Monarch caterpillars’ only food.

Monarch laying egg on Butterfly Milkweed. August 2012.  Photo © Barb Elliot.  Click to enlarge.

Monarch laying egg on Butterfly Milkweed. August 2012. Photo © Barb Elliot. Click to enlarge.

The response to our offer was fantastic!  We received one hundred thirty-five orders for a total of 2,400 plants.  There is a waiting list of people who missed the April 1st order deadline and want to buy any leftover plants.

Orders came from Monarch enthusiasts across the southeastern Pennsylvania area –
Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware counties -and even from  south New Jersey and central Pennsylvania. We were impressed by the networking and sharing about the milkweeds that took place via word of mouth and social media, including Facebook and list-servs.  Inquiries about buying milkweed came from as far away as Minnesota and Virginia.

When the milkweed plants become available in early June, they will be planted in a variety of settings, including the backyards of many private homes, an in-home day care center in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, a community vegetable garden on the Main Line, a condominium community, an elementary school yard and organic garden, a middle school yard, and a churchyard in Malvern.  A retired couple in Downingtown inspired adults and children in their neighborhood to order 150 milkweeds.

Thanks to all of you who ordered plants and/or shared the need and opportunity with family, friends, and neighbors!  We fervently hope that similar efforts are taking place across the country to help save the Monarchs.





4 thoughts on “An Update: Milkweeds for Monarchs Initiative

  1. I am doing a similar project in Bucks County. I have partnered with Delaware Valley College and the Upper Bucks Vocational School and they will be growing milkweed seedlings for me to distribute in the spring. So far it looks like I have schools in Morrisville, Levittown and Doylestown interested in planting milkweed.

    • Mary Ellen, it’s great to hear about your project to get more milkweed planted in Bucks County! It’s been a very tough year for the Monarchs, with the lowest over-wintering population on record, millions of acres of milkweed lost in the mid-west due to GMO corn and soy crops that allow spraying of herbicides, and a lot of very wet and cool weather in the east. But the Monarchs could bounce back next year and we need to continue to plant as much milkweed as possible. Thanks so much for helping the Monarchs!


  2. Hi, just checking to see if there are any plans for another milkweed plug sale this year. Our daycare planted 10 plugs each of swamp milkweed and butterfly weed last year and every one of the plugs really thrived! Unfortunately, we didn’t see one monarch all summer, but all we can do is continue to plant. Thanks.

    • It’s so nice to hear that your milkweed plants did well last year! Yes, we are planning to sell landscape plugs of both Swamp Milkweed and Butterfly Weed again this spring. Thanks for asking.

      Sorry you didn’t get to see any Monarchs last year. I saw just a few fly through my garden, but for the first year I didn’t find any Monarch eggs on my milkweed plants. Because of the even lower numbers of Monarchs that over-wintered in Mexico, there are likely to be even fewer here this year. But you are right, we need to keep planting milkweeds! The more milkweeds we plant, the easier it will be for the Monarchs that do make it to our area to find the milkweeds.

      We will be announcing the details of the milkweed sale on the blog sometime soon, so stay tuned.


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