Should I plant Milkweed?

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  #1  
Old 08-24-18, 09:00 AM
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Should I plant Milkweed?

I am thinking of planting milkweed to encourage butterflies although the plants look interesting to me. Am I being an idiot? Will I regret it? Will my neighbors hate me forever because they spread to their property, Milkweed are apparently Rhizomes? Talk me down. I noticed the only forum post mentioning milkweed was about eradication.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:09 AM
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Weeds are just plants that are growing somewhere we don't want them to. Some like it for the flowers.... You might get a few butterflies in the process. It's not hard to pull and I have never seen it "out of control". It grows wild here and it's sporadic at best in road ditches.

A better choice might be an actual butterfly bush. Very similar flower and a little more colorful.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:18 AM
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My Wife encourages Milkweeds in some of the open areas bordering our land because they draw Monarch Butterflies that migrate up here from Mexico.

No Milkweeds results in no Monarchs; simple as that.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:28 AM
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I was under the impression the butterflies eat milkweed and lay eggs in milkweed.

Why You Should Never Plant a Butterfly Bush Again
They're gorgeous, but they actually do more harm than good.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/hom...utterfly-bush/
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:29 AM
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I have some growing around my light post .Even stake them up.Right now ones taller then me with pods the size of small fist. Took a couple years to establish them and plan to seed a state forest where I had seen them but not too many. Not many butterflies yet though.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:37 AM
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Well, it IS toxic to cows, horses and sheep, and stays toxic even when dried, so you can't use hay or straw from a field that has milkweek in it; or, you have to stop and pull out each plant by hand, which really makes haying off a field a pain.


The sap is an irritant, and some people react to it like poison ivy.


But, it's also a beneficial native plant, which is often recommened for butterfly gardens.
 
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Old 08-24-18, 10:49 AM
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The plant I was referring to is actually called butterfly weed. It's a native plant.

Butterfly weed https://g.co/kgs/t1nEuU
 
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Old 08-24-18, 09:06 PM
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The monarch butterfly caterpillar is a milkweed specialist. The Wikipedia page lists 24 plants that they feed on and 22 of them are some form of milkweed. Monarchs migrate from Mexico to Canada every year, one generation travelling just so far before laying eggs on milkweed and dying, and counting on their offspring to complete the next leg of the journey, then lay their eggs on milkweed, and die. It takes three or four generations to reach Canada and the journey for each generation necessarily begins and ends at a milkweed plant.

According to surveys of their winter nesting site near Mexico City, Monarch population is down more than 80% from 1999, when a midwestern farmers started increasing their use of glyphosphate herbicides to support their genetically-modified glyphosphate-tolerant crops. But it also inadvertenly killed off 58% of the milkweed in what had been the Monarch's most heavily traveled flyway (according to a 2012 study from the U.K. Royal Entomological Society).

So Monarchs are in dire straits and could use all the help they can get. And since they don't bother anybody's cash crops, they're one of the few flying insects I can think of that only brings delight. A worthy cause, in my view. I'm working on revamping my landscaping with the intent of attracting and supporting as many pollinators as possible, and that list includes milkweed and Monarch butterflies...


...or at least that's my excuse when the ol' lady starts ragging me about not mowing the yard.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 10:34 AM
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"The plant I was referring to is actually called butterfly weed. It's a native plant." OK thanks. Butterfly weed is Asclepias tuberosa which is a kind of milkweed, only with orange flowers that make it somewhat of an ornamental plant.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 10:42 AM
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Thanks for the responses.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 11:34 AM
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As I drove through Nebraska yesterday observing all the wild milkweed growing in the ditches along the highways, between the endless corn fields and soybean fields, I could not help but think about your question. Millions of milkweed plants, no monarchs to be seen anywhere.

The problem is not necessarily the lack of habitat, it's the farm chemicals that are indiscriminately killing off all the insects... the good with the bad.

Plant milkweed if you want, it will probably make you feel better if you do. Not saying there is anything wrong with doing it. But whether a monarch actually finds it or not and multiplies is anyone's guess. I haven't seen migrating monarchs around here for over 40 years.
 
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Old 08-26-18, 12:19 PM
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I have milkweed that grows on a steep hill. I just let it grow. I see Monarchs all the time in MN.

I say it your yard, grow what you want. It does not spread as bad a dandelions.
 
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Old 11-08-18, 10:39 AM
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Another case in point:

Florida study finds monarch butterflies declined 80 percent since 2005

...A new University of Florida study — at 37 years, the longest of its kind — has found that the number of caterpillars and butterflies in North Florida have been declining steadily since 1985.

Since 2005, the numbers have dropped by 80 percent....

...While adult monarchs can eat a variety of plants, the young ones’ diet consists of nothing but milkweed. The plants contain toxins that they store up to ward off predators....

A lot of purple martin landlords (me among them) take up the hobby to promote the survival of the species, which also is in decline. For reasons we can only speculate about, purple martins have become entirely dependent on man for their living arrangements, and so have become habituated to living around people. And "managed" martin nests have been shown to potentially produce twice as many offspring than if the birds are left on their own.

Martins mate for life and are known for their "nest fidelity," the tendency to return season after season to the same nesting site. But this is partly dependent on whether they successfully fledged any chicks in that nest the previous season. So martin landlords take an active role in nest management, not just for the good of the species, but also to insure that "their" birds will return to the same nesting site next season.

Some monarch enthusiasts do something similar. They actively gather monarch eggs from the wild, then hatch them and raise them to adult stage indoors, then release them. Which reduces the losses to natural predators (ants, wasps, mantids, etc). But to do this you have to know then to look for the eggs, which involves tracking the migration northward. So there is at least one monarch enthusiasts internet forum (Journey North-dot-Org) where they maintain a migration map based on forum members' sightings.

Martin landlords do something similar so they know when their time grows short for readying their martin houses for the birds' arrival.
 
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