Ideal spacing for plants in a butterfly garden?

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)November 7, 2010

I have a certified Monarch Way Station, based on the variety of milkweeds and nectar plants and lack of pesticide use, etc. However, when I applied for the certification they mentioned the importance of maintaining appropriate spacing between plants. I've been letting the perennials spread and fill in and then put annuals where I have more sun and space. This year was warm and moist--perfect conditions for seedlings--and I had a bumper crop of new milkweed plants. As seedlings they were ideal for the Monarch cats in their first few instars. But there were literally thousands of plants. They were like a ground cover underneath the taller, established plants. If I thin them, how much space should I leave between them? Or should I just let them find a balance on their own? I usually love to let Ma Nature be in charge. Let me know what you think.

Martha

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christie_sw_mo(Z6)

I could be wrong but I don't think Monarchs care much about spacing. lol I tend to let Mother Nature take its course too. The strongest plants will survive and a lot of the smaller ones will die. If you'd rather have a few large plants that flower well, you may need to thin them out. If your main goal is foliage for the monarchs, I'm guessing it doesn't matter how thick they are.

Are there other types of plants mixed in with your milkweed? If so, they may get crowded out.

Which milkweed do you have that's reseeding so heavily?

Did you still get your certificate?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2010 at 6:18AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Christie,
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I have my certificate. I just want to make sure I'm providing the optimal conditions for diverse wildlife. I have a mix of Asclepias incarnata, tuberosa, and another called "Red Milkweed" from Seed Savers Exchange. The incarnata is the one that reseeds so vigorously. I did have a horrible infestation of aphids this summer, so I don't know if that could be due to overcrowding, or if it's just the weather/humidity/cyclic changes, etc. I guess I'll wait to see how next year goes. This was by far my best year for Monarchs, though they were here and gone very early. I don't think I saw a single Monarch after the first of August, and that's about when the aphids really took over.

Oh, well. We'll see. Thanks again.

Martha

    Bookmark   November 10, 2010 at 1:02PM
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