Recently, Wild Ones posted the following monarch update on the Wild Ones Facebook page:  We are trying to harness the power of the Internet and Facebook to help save our Monarchs.  Please share this information with your members and ask everyone to send this information to their friends and family.  Also, please “share” this on your Facebook page, blog or webpage.  Here is a link to Wild Ones Facebook page so you can easily “share” this information:

Don’t forget to “Like” the Wild Ones page while you are there so you get the updates on this initiative.

Let’s spread this information and get milkweed planted across the country. People from Virginia to California and even Canada have commented and shared this information to help our butterflies. Two of our business members are already handing out free milkweed plants or seeds.

Please let me know if you have any ideas or thoughts that could help save our monarchs?

Jamie Fuerst
Wild Ones Marketing Assistant


The Winter Population: Population estimates from the Mexican overwintering site indicate that Monarchs lost ground. Their population is down by 28% compared to the previous winter.

Big Factor in Decline is Loss of Milkweed: Dr. Karen (MN) co-authored research published in March showing that, in the past decade, there …has been a 58% decline in milkweed and an 81% decline in monarch egg production in agricultural fields of the Midwest. Half of Monarchs come from the Midwest where caterpillars feed on common milkweed. The study ties a decade-long decline in monarch populations to the loss of milkweed from the corn and soybean fields that blanket the region.

The losses of monarchs coincide with the rise in the use of glyphosate herbicide (Roundup), which kill milkweed and other weeds, while leaving corn and soybean crops (genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicides) intact. They conclude that the loss of agricultural milkweeds is a major contributor to the decline in the monarch population. The smaller population makes the species more vulnerable to other conservation threats. Since this situation is unlikely to change, they encourage land managers and individuals to plant and conserve milkweed. Oberhauser said “it underlines the importance of putting milkweed in garden plantings, prairies, and roadsides.”

From Pat:  There are 15 species of Milkweed listed in Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region; Dick Young mentions 10 in Kane County Wild Plants and Natural Areas.

This is the first place I ever saw Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), the showiest member of the Milkweed genus.   A stunning plant, the flat-topped, brilliant orange flower clusters bloom at the top of a 1-3’ bushy plant beginning in late June and continuing through July.

They are frequent in sandy Black Oak savannas, such as Illinois Beach State Park on the shores of Lake Michigan, near Zion, in northeastern Illinois.  (I have yet to visit the beach when Butterfly Weed is in bloom–it must be spectacular!) They are also found in dry (well-drained) prairies. (I, quite frankly, have never seen one in the wild.)

They thrive in sandy or well-drained gardens-such as the top of a hill-, but they adapt to mesic and dry-mesic soil. as well, in full or partial sun.  They do not grow well in heavy clay soils.
Monarch caterpillar feeding on Butterfly Weed leaves.

Here’s my front sidewalk garden with Butterfly Weed in early July.  I have mesic prairie soil–no clay.


Wild Quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) is a fine companion to Butterfly Weed next to my front walk.



Butterfly Weed and Pale Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea pallida) grow in a matrix of Side Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) situated at the top of a terraced hillside overlooking the Fox River at the Geneva Riverwalk.

At home in pockets in flagstone wall along with Pale Purple Coneflower and Stiff Coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata).


A client’s garden in a newish sub-division.  Butterfly Weed in bloom along with Foxglove Beard Tongue (Penstemon digitalis).


Like all native plants, it’s beauty doesn’t deminish when the flowers fade; the seed pods are gorgeous, as well.

Look on page 56 of my book, Design Your Natural Midwest Garden to learn more about butterflies and Butterfly Gardens. There is a design for a Butterfly Garden on page 63 that you can emulate.

A Neighborhood Association in Elgin where l live adapted my Butterfly Garden Design to their site and it has turned out beautifully.  Here’s a photo from August of last year:

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4 Responses to PLANT MILKWEED

  1. Suzanne Massion April 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Pat, We have an abundance of common milkweed out in the seeded prairie, mainly because we know better now not to pull it. I see a little swamp milkweed every year near the ephemeral pond. I hope our small effort helps. I had no idea the Monarchs were that threatened.

  2. Peggy Timmerman April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am #

    Hi Pat,

    We have a dry hill prairie remnant in SW Wisconsin, and it has spectacular butterfly weed on it. One ecologist has estimated some of the plants might be 75 years old, and they were dormant for many years before we bought the property and started clearing and then burning the prairie. It would be great if you would do a post on all the other milkweeds, many of which are also beautiful. One of my favorites is Poke Milkweed, which has a pale pink, round nodding umbrell. It is a woodland/savanna milkweed, so one you could recommend to your clients who have some shade in their yards. We have seven milkweeds on our 140 acres and they are all cool in their own way!

    Peggy Timmerman
    Lone Rock, WI

    • Nelly June 11, 2012 at 9:46 am #

      wonderful book I plan to purchase it for my grgdndauahter. I also raise and release butterflies including monarchs, zebras, spicebush, buckeyes, red admiral, variegated fritillary and eastern black swallowtail. I have also spotted a giant swallowtail on my rue this summer that layed several eggs which I tried to observe unfortunately an accident to my butterfly hut destroyed them ; ( By the way .do you have a problem with aphids? That’s my biggest problem right now how to deal with them without harming the cats.

  3. Sara Foszcz May 21, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi –

    Can you tell me if the above milkweed is toxic to horses or sheep or goats?

    Thanks so much –

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