Please consider planting Tropical or Oscar milkweed this season
I have read of the huge decline in Monarch breeding stock this year. They are now stirring and preparing for their journey north from Mexico.
Many butterfly enthusiasts have made a plea for home gardeners to consider raising milkweed plants this year and many have responded that they will help.
I would like to also ask for those same gardeners to plant and grow the tropical milkweed aka Bloodflower (Asclepias curassavica) this season and/ or Oscar (Asclepias Physocarpus). The reason I ask is most of the 1st year perennial milkweed will be tiny during this first year of growth, as these plants will concentrate on developing a good root structure over top growth. There will not be much in the way of leaves and almost surely, no blooms. The exception to this would be Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), which usually produces more top growth the first year.
This year is critical, due to the low numbers of migrating Monarchs. Tropical and Oscar Milkweed in almost all areas of the states is treated as an annual. It grows faster and will produce more leaf growth and blooms for this season, plus it regenerates faster than the perennial varieties of milkweed.
There is some debate regarding growing these two milkweeds, as some people feel it encourages delays in the start of the fall migration. Others believe it has no effect; that other factors trigger the urge to begin the migration back to Mexico.
Whatever side you fall on, the terribly low numbers of returning Monarchs will need all the help they can get this year. Please locate some seed of at least one of these fast growing milkweeds and get them started for summer growth.
To locate sellers of milkweed seed, google milkweed seed for sale. A good source I've used in the past is GeoSeed. They carry both Tropical and Oscar seed. They sell mainly to growers but will sell to home gardeners. The size of the seed packet is much larger than retail stores but their shipping/handling is a min of $5.00, which has always covered my shipping costs for my seed orders. If you're looking for large seed packets, I've found them to be a good, reliable source.
My thanks for taking the time to read and for helping the Monarch Butterfly.