Transplanting Milkweed and Monarchs

reinholdtAugust 27, 2011


I have some common milkweed plants growing in various places in my yard, including in my grass. I'd like to isolate these plants to one location --the area behind the garage. So, my questions are:

1. What is the best way to do this? Pull up the existing plants and replant them in the new area, or take the seeds from inside the pods and plant those?

2. Being that it is late August now, would uprooting these plants be detrimental to any possible Monarch butterfly reproduction, or are we past that stage?


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lycopus(z5 NY)

It is better to grow them from seed. Milkweeds have a long taproot and are difficult to transplant.

The monarchs might have one more brood this season. It takes about 30 days for them to go from egg to adult stage, and I have seen them on goldenrods as late as September. Saw a pair mating yesterday.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 12:55PM
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Thanks for the reply. So, can I just use the seeds (if there are any) from inside those pods that hang on the milkweed, or do I have to go to the store and buy them?


    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 6:35PM
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lycopus(z5 NY)

Should be able to use what you have. When they are ready the pods will darken and eventually start to split. You can pull off the 'fluff' and plant the seeds anytime in the fall for plants next year.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 12:55AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Not only will you get seeds for "free" collecting from your own plants, those plants will be perfectly suited to your growing conditions and so much better than any bought seed.

Milkweed is a perennial. It will take a number of years (maybe 2-3) for the plants to achieve full size from seed. I would allow a new patch of milkweed to establish before removing the old one of you want to keep butterfly habitat at your place.

If you can find small (1st year) plants in the established patches next spring, you may be able to move them since they so don't have a big root system yet. But no guarantees there. Seeds are the best option.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 10:34AM
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robin_z6(5/6 in SE MI)

Hi! I also have ALOT of common milkweed growing in my yard. I have pulled it out(After monarch migration) because it was taking over. I did not find a deep taproot at all. I find that the milkweed sends out runner roots and they are only 3"-4" under the soil. Try digging some up and see. You can seed behind the garage but you will still have milkweed where it is now-even in the grass-if you do not dig it out. You werent going to use weed killer on it, were you?? I'm sure you were not.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 4:35PM
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Robin, no I wasn't planning on using weed killer -- just my hands. I would like to remove the milkweed plants now, unless you think the Monarchs are still using them in zone 5?


    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 9:40PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Monarchs can still be using them pretty late in the season. I would wait. You may wish to try looking in the butterfly garden forum for info. Found this there.


Here is a link that might be useful: Can I transplant milkweed?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2011 at 8:05AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I've got a patch of wild A. syriaca growing - of all places - in the middle of a woodland garden. It grows quite well, although it doesn't flower because there isn't enough sun. I tried to transplant all of it last fall to another spot. Well, only a couple small plants appeared in the new spot, and the old spot still had plenty of plants. So much for transplanting "all" the plants. LOL

Perennial milkweeds can be transplanted but will take time to re-establish, plus they will also regenerate itself from old pieces of roots left behind. I've tried starting A. syriaca from seed, with limited success. The wild patches that planted themselves have done much better.

Whether or not you still have Monarch larval activity depends on where you live. Very possible there are still caterpillars eating the leaves. You should be able to find them without too much difficulty if you take a look. I raise Monarchs and just found an egg on the common Milkweed 2 days ago! Very late for egg-laying at this location.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2011 at 12:09PM
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