Milkweed Matters

DSCN4803Isn’t it beautiful? Do you have this in your garden? I let milkweed grow around my potato patch. I yank it if it starts growing inside the fence, but around the perimeter, it’s just fine. This is, of course, common milkweed, or asclepias syriaca.


I think the flowers smell wonderful. I just wish the plants didn’t have a tendency to fall over in a strong wind.

Milkweed is not only crucial to the monarch butterfly, it is also important to other pollinators like the bee in the photo on the right.  It seems that people are destroying milkweed at an alarming rate, and there are campaigns to save and propagate the plants.

A "Save Milkweed" campaign in Minnesota

A "Save Milkweed" campaign

Milkweed is the only plant the monarch butterfly lays its eggs on, and it’s the only thing the monarch caterpillars eat. At this time of year in Rhode Island, you can often find the small whitish eggs on the undersides of milkweed leaves. When the caterpillars eat the leaves, they ingest the “milk” or latex, which renders them inedible for most predators. They’ll chomp away for about three weeks before entering the pupa stage, and will grow 2,700 times their original size during this period! Below is a photo I took of a monarch caterpillar on one of the milkweed plants in my garden. It didn’t take much effort on my part to provide a place for it to eat and grow.DSCN2399


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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3 Responses to Milkweed Matters

  1. Azra says:

    From our experience is not too much resistant on strong wind. I live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and we got this plant from neighbor, until today i search all over to know the name. Thanks to You, I know it now. The “tree” is empty inside and with strong wind last year one of two which was grown in big pot was crashed. I use to put bamboo stick near and clip it to plant with garden clips, or string. But not near leaf. The cocoon is really beautiful.


    • dirtynailz says:

      You are correct about the wind. I always find a few on the ground if it’s been blowing hard. I usually end up supporting them somehow, and it helps if they’re growing near a fence. Do you get butterflies on yours’ too?


  2. Helen says:

    Last year I planted a young common milkweed plant that I had to buy online because they just don’t sell them anywhere, I hope it blooms this year though I heard it could take up to a few years to bloom.


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