If you keep an eye on North American nature media at all, you've probably heard about the decline of the monarch butterfly and the call for a "milkweed corridor"
to help replace lost habitat and food sources along the monarch's migration routes
.( In case you haven't... )
So... there's an effort to get as many people to plant as much milkweed in as many places as possible along the migration routes. I've tried sowing wildflower seed before, but haven't been very successful: I chose a steep site where the seeds either washed away in heavy rains, or germinated and then succumbed to a spring drought. But this year, I have ordered milkweed and other wildflower seeds and I'm determined to make it work. If you're interested too, here are some resources I'm using:Milkweed Seed Finder
- The Xerxes Society (a great resource for all kinds of invertebrates) has a tool to help you find milkweed seeds from vendors in your local area. There's also a link to species maps
so you can find out which milkweeds are native to your region. Most seed companies I looked at will take orders online and ship to you.Native American Seed Company
- a source for native plant seeds. Their website and catalog also have a lot of educational material and other resources. (I read the catalog cover-to-cover like a book! Because I'm that kind of nerd. :)How to Get Texas Native Milkweed Seeds to Germinate
- not just for Texans! This expert has developed what he feels is the most successful way to germinate the seeds. It's a very fussy process, but when each little seed is valuable, I'm sure it's worth it.Growing Milkweeds
- This guide gives more options for propagating milkweed, including growing them from cuttings.Asclepias database
- The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center's database listing of Milkweeds. It includes photos and common names and is pretty good for identifying species you may find in the wild. (Aside: how awesome would it be to have a respected wildflower center named after you? Go Ladybird!)
Since this seed propagation business is likely to be a multi-year project (especially since it's already effectively summer here) the other thing I'm doing is trying to protect any established milkweeds I find. In our pasture, there are a couple of butterfly milkweed plants
my dad and I discovered years ago. My dad likes photography and I like both photography and insects, so he drove posts into the ground next to the plants to protect them from being mowed down during haying. This year I located a green milkweed plant and staked it out as well. (The same plant, I believe, that was being eaten by a monarch larvae
in September 2012!) I'm putting a reminder in my calendar so that, hopefully, later in the year I can collect some seeds myself.