Milk Weed Seeds

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Milk Weed Seeds Hello and thank you for your interest in our 21 YEAR ongoing Seed campaign. The format of this campaign will change in 2023 to better control the level of work for our limited Common Milkweed produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Attract Monarch Butterflies to your garden or meadow. Perennial (Asclepias syriaca) Support endangered monarch butterflies by growing milkweed from seeds you can get for free.

Milk Weed Seeds

Hello and thank you for your interest in our 21 YEAR ongoing Seed campaign.

The format of this campaign will change in 2023 to better control the level of work for our limited staff and ensure the wait times are reasonable. We really care about getting you the best seeds we can. Without pre planning and having seeds on hand and extra staff we struggled to get the avalanche of mail processed and back out quickly. Our normal extra information sheets were not available for many and we hope to be better prepared for the next wave of interest. Please check back with our site to check on the new requirements to get Free seeds in 2023 before you send in an envelope. Thank you for your participation.

Live Monarch will send 15+ Butterfly Garden seeds including Milkweed and growing instructions FOR FREE even if you can not afford a contribution. This program was started for schools and broke folks that wanted to help and could use some smiles. Just mail us a self addressed stamped envelope, one per household. A save the Monarch contribution is greatly appreciated to help offset the cost of the many seeds we give away, personally plant and plants we provide to schools and share with others by others that can afford to share in the cost. Please know any small contribution helps keep this campaign going. Thank you! Please read tips below.

Some tips for success with this mail in program, and some common mistakes:

  • Our staff struggles with very old already sealed envelopes.
  • We really need your return address.
  • We really need a stamp to get it back to you.
  • Please put stamp on right top corner.
  • We can add the return address top left corner if you do not. Do not add it to back of envelope – Postal machines get angry.
  • Add a note if you want a specific type of seed or are sending in a payment.
  • Sending a gift for the campaign?
    – Please add a clear note so we understand what your wishes are.
    – Example – Check with note says contribution send seeds. How many?
  • Penmanship – if we can not read it the post office machines probably can not.
  • We love the letters from kids.. but if they do not get their envelope back 🙁

Want a little more information? Click this link https://www.livemonarch.com/extra

Thank you,
LMF Staff

One dollar goes a long way to help Monarchs, and we will send 40+ seeds per dollar as a thank you for most seed types. If you need more seeds, send a larger contribution with your written request. (These same seed packs sell all over the web for $3 – $5 for only a few seeds). We send out several milkweed varieties which can survive the winters at the end of the growing season, and we do our best to send them to appropriate areas. From time to time we may run out of rarer types. We have regional specific seeds to send back to the regions where they were gathered. Please include a small note below if you have a special request. We read every one and do our best to meet your needs. Please share or give if you can so we can provide materials to as many as possible. Please research and then request the type you want with the drop down menus below.

Our Milkweed choices are changing and we are doing our best to provide more Native and regional specific Milkweed and seed blends.

To get seeds faster use the “PAY NOW” button below. Use the drop down menus to choose what you need and include a short clear note if necessary, then click PAY NOW to access the secure online form, where you can submit your information safely. There is a link to bypass the need for PayPal account and use most credit cards.

At different levels of contribution we can offer the items below as thank you gifts. At $3.69 it is 120 seeds and a complete information pack delivered to your door. At $20 we send 800 seeds for your region and a personalized letter. Use the links to request the type of seeds you want or ask us to pick for you. We have redesigned this quick check out to include more options and hope you help us continue to ensure that we all have the FREE education and low cost resources to Save the Monarch Migration. Thank you, LMF STAFF.

You will receive seeds and simple milkweed growing instructions and our heartfelt thanks. There are no butterflies in your return envelope. The information sheet is preprinted for you to keep as a reference sheet and to share the website and the education to help Monarchs and butterflies in every life stage.

Please click the choices below for seeds to plant and you can share a portion of your purchase with others too. With one step you can get seeds and share some with others too. – A perfect combination!

Include a note and say hello. Or give us extra instructions. After clicking Pay Now you can multiply your order and get identical complete packages to share. A super easy awesome gift!

We respect your privacy. We do not send multiple emails or share your information with anyone. Please double check your shipping address carefully.

Please use the “Share part of this purchase” dropdown to send any amount you choose as a contribution and include a note so we can direct it to the purpose you intended. We send a special thank you by snail mail too if funds allow, so make sure your address information is correct. We respect your privacy. We do not send multiple emails or share your information with anyone.

Uses for your contributions include: Milkweed Seeds, Printed Materials, Milkweed Plants, Postage, Envelopes, Educational Outreach, School Programs, Telephone, Web Design, Rent, Tools, Overhead, Electricity, an occasional Pizza for the Staff, or coffee for an all night envelope stuffing session 🙂

We truly appreciate every penny and it goes towards the campaign. We do not believe in outrageous “compensation” for staff. 90% of what comes in goes back out in the form of seeds and educational materials that directly benefit the Monarch Butterfly and our shared Environment. Thank you for your support.

Want to visit our fancy high rise offices? Well they are located in fantasy land with the winning lottery ticket somebody sent in. In the real world where we actually live… we are just a nice web site, post office box and small room filled with a few hard working dedicated people that think getting people some seeds so they can learn how to grow something valuable for something we care about is a good idea and makes a difference. Thats it! You can do it too, just share your seeds.

WILL WE LOSE THE MONARCH BUTTERFLY?
Unlikely, however, it’s migration route may be greatly diminished.

Monarchs need your help! Some certainly do and especially if you want to see them in your own backyard. According to some researchers Monarchs are threatened and still others say their numbers, while historically much lower, are stable. We have only known about their over wintering sites for a little less than 50 years so it is difficult to ring the fire alarm or signal all clear just yet. But we should all be concerned about our environment and the living things dependent upon it. Some researchers are worried we may lose a larger part of the Monarch migration this year due to climate change if action is not taken to protect their milkweed food supplies and protect safe migratory corridors. Is threatened too strong a statement? The debate continues. Do we want future restrictions on backyard milkweed and school projects? Obviously not.

What actions should we take? Some have criticized any intervention. Some research is confusing and some have wonderful studies with lots of evidence. Some have very strong opinions and shout loudly. It is hard to devote the time needed to understand all the arguments? We understand this frustration and are a little slow to make changes due to the complexity.

A little history – In 1991, over 75% of the wintering Monarchs from North America froze to death in Mexico as a result of three days of rain and sub-freezing conditions. This is when the Live Monarch Foundation was formed to ensure Monarchs would fill our skies for future generations. One person decided to take action, plant a seed and inspire others to learn how to do the same. Over the years we have grown to include thousands of individuals just like you that take action to help the Monarchs, creating refuges for them across North America and around the world.

Natural events are not the only challenges that face the Monarch. Widespread pesticide application and genetically modified crops cover important parts of the Monarch’s migratory path and serve as killing fields for any Monarchs that pass through these millions of acres of toxins and biological agents that kill them and their young. They are unintended casualties in a war to protect crops. What about actual WAR how much food has this destroyed? Can we do better?Monarchs and their migration show us the fragility and interconnectedness of our world and that the actions of some can have impacts on all of us.

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We are all part of the problem through the global effort to harness and control Nature in the search for profit. We must research the origins of all our wants to ensure that the products and organizations we support are a true benefit and not a source of misery to the resources used to create them. Our choice to know the source of our purchases gives us the real power to decide what types of people we support and together control over the manner of production used. Please promote the sharing of information widely, scientists you too, so that we can make informed choices and change the world with every one.

Our call to action used to be. “The Monarch habitat must be protected now to ensure their survival, before we see the day when this miracle of nature is only a memory. Please plant seeds and help to ensure their survival. A Milkweed in every yard! “ Maybe we modify that to – Our environment must be protected so all living creatures can maintain their place and with respect and study we provide for the survival of us all great and small.

You have the power to instantly change the world !

Plant a seed today and change your backyard.

Educate yourself about the effects of your actions.

Take responsibility for your actions.

Plant an idea by sharing your knowledge.

Educate others and ask them to take responsibility for their actions.

Make the decision to think, act, and be responsible for yourself and all you impact.

Choose not to support ideas or actions that harm our environment or others.

You are the most important part of any solution!

SEED UPDATE 2022 – We have a good stockpile of fresh Milkweed seeds right now and thanks to you and the continued sharing of our mission on social media we are sending out more than 1,000 envelopes every day.

When your seeds arrive, make sure you have exactly what you needed. Please contact us with one email or a phone call if there are any questions and please share your seeds, this page and our program with others so we can continue to get the word out. We are far ahead of last years pace when we went through 5 million seeds in several months. Through your efforts to share information and materials with others you are the most important part of our campaign and we thank you. Every Monarch that can find a safe milkweed leaf to lay an egg on thanks you. Every caterpillar that has enough Milkweed to eat and a bit of cover from predators thanks you. Every newly emerged Monarch spreading their wings for the first time and seeing our world from above and your backyard that sheltered it, thanks you too.

Thank You for every Tweet, Facebook post, email, conversation, and seed you share with your Friends and Family. This effort is directly responsible for the growing of Millions of new HOMES and FOOD for Millions of Monarchs across North America and around the globe too.

A need for seed – Northern varieties are especially hard to source as we share over 100 pounds every year and can not grow our full supply. If we run out of a variety we will continue to ship the next best milkweed varieties to fill your requests. If you have extra seeds to share please contact us. We are happy to pay for postage and your time if you have a good supply. Thank you in advance for all your help. The seed you plant is the food and shelter for a Monarch Caterpillar. Thank you for planting a Home for them.

Think about that for a moment a two cent investment and a moment to plant a single seed can provide a lifetime of food and shelter for a Monarch Caterpillar and the starting point for a 1500 mile migration. A miracle of Nature right in your back yard and your opportunity for a personal life changing experience with Nature.

Please let everyone know about this site, about how to get milkweed seed, and why it is so important!

Lifecycle Story of a Monarch Butterfly for FREE! Highly recommended . You will learn all about the care of a Monarch from an egg to an adult butterfly. Download all the pictures of your butterfly in its different life stages. This is a very simple and FUN learning experience. Great for small children and adults too.

Would you like to give seed packs to all your friends and family? Click here for our personalized seedpacks

We support local growers and hope you seek out native varieties.

If you can not find a local suplier or resource become one. Share your knowledge, plants and seeds. You are the most important part of our Mission. It all starts in your backyard.

Maps and pictures are from www.aphis.usda.gov and www.fs.fed.us. Maps may depict larger areas than actual “native” range. Please do your own investigation, take a walk around your area in case you can find local seeds to replant, research and choose wisely before introducing new varieties.

Syriaca – Common Milkweed Up to 5’ tall – Over 450 insect types are known to feed on this plant. Will survive winters and is a prolific seed producer. Germination is variable dependent on the source but typically 14-30 days, and some seed is always dormant.

Incarnata – Swamp Milkweed 3’ – 5’ with slender leaves highly sought after by Monarchs. Pink to reddish flowers. Will survive winters and be a good seed producer. Less than 14 -30 day germination.

Perrenis – White Swamp Milkweed 1’-2’ white flowers found in wet areas and along streams. The name means perennial. Seeds are designed to float on water not through air. Will update best planting practices and information as we gain more feedback.

Currently not part of our free seed program. On hold pending further review.

Curassavica – Tropical Milkweed 3-4’ fast growing and heat tolerant – Red and orange or sometimes yellow flowers. Productive nectar source. Some studies caution its use but may serve an important place in Monarch survival strategies. Favorite of the Monarchs for egg laying and as a backup food supply if “Native” varieties are exhausted. Small caterpillars will transfer to it readily and complete their metamorphosis. Best to cut back in any area of southward migration as season ends.

Speciosa – Showy Milkweed 4’ tall with thick leaves that feed many Monarchs. Will survive winters and be a good seed producer. The seed we supply is ready to plant, with no special “stratification” necessary but may have some dormancy. Less than 14-30 day germination.

Tuberosa – Butterfly Milkweed 2’-3’ large range and a great choice for Monarchs. Has hairy stems, leaves are alternate, and sap is much thinner. Seed may need a long stratification period. Recommended to plant before Winter. Less than 14-30 day germination.

Fascicularis – Narrow-Leaved Milkweed – max height is 3’ Habitat throughout California and some neighboring states. Dry or moist soils, sun, and heat tolerant. Pink and white flowers. May be challenging to germinate. We will update best planting practices and information as we gain more feedback.

Unknown Local Milkweed – If the flowers look similar to milkweed or there is a seed pod, it just might be and you should value it. We certainly do! Please respect that ecosystem and do not rob Nature of this valuable resource. If there are open pods please carefully plant some of its brown seeds around the same area, share with a few neighbors and let us know too. There are many other amazing sites and now apps that can help you to identify these plants. Have fun and stay safe. Wash your hands well with soap & water if handling milkweeds, and do not touch your face or eyes.

Regional Wildflower Mixes we offer
(Click to view specific seed types and percentages in each mix)

Attention Educators: We love the hundreds of letters we get from your first grade classes and other students! Keep the letters coming but please remember we have a big expense in seeds and staff time to stuff each of those separate envelopes. We suggest you put all the envelopes or letters into one package and send that to us. You can then donate that postage to the cause instead of wasting postage and many envelopes. This also helps us get the job done faster for everyone. Thank you.

Attention Press: We love the hundreds and sometimes thousands of letters we get from your readers and hope to be an ongoing part of your outreach to your audience. BUT please remember this is a contribution based seed program that relies on the many small purchases in self addressed stamped envelopes that come in to cover the cost to buy and collect seeds, print, pack, open, read, count, answer questions, stuff, seal and all too often include postage on all those requests. We encourage you to send your readers to our site and or this page and make sure they understand our offering is contribution based. We have funds to cover a small percentage of free seed requests but have unfortunately been inundated from time to time with thousands of free requests for materials that have bypassed our web site and are a significant drain on our small staff and limited resources. Trust us, your active audience will definitely contact you if their requests are not filled, please help us keep this program ongoing.

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Butterfly Picture Contest: We appreciate the pictures, drawings and letters you send to us and would like to display them on our site. To encourage more artistic creations, we are offering a reward for the best in each age range. Just send in your drawings or butterfly crafts, and you will be entered in our Caterpillar Kit Giveaway. Click here to see some of our thousands of letters and get more information on the contest. Anyone can enter!

Can you afford to do more? Our mission to assist the Monarch butterfly and native animals covers all of North America. Your contributions assist the Live Monarch Foundation to send out many thousands of these Free Seed Packs and Educational materials to children across this continent. It also affords us the opportunity to give back directly to your community in a self-renewing and sustainable way. Any donation over $20 will be eligible to receive a special Monarch thank you gift. At different levels of sponsorship, we can offer the following items or sizable discounts from our online partners and fellow butterfly breeders:

  • Special Variety Seed Packs for a complete Butterfly Garden.
  • Mature Living Plants ready to plant in your area to attract Butterflies of all kinds.
  • Living Monarch Caterpillars and Rearing Kits.
  • Live Adult Monarchs ready to fly free at your next special event or celebration.

Community involvement: Monarchs are a miracle everyone should enjoy. We have created a wonderful opportunity for your household, neighborhood, school, place of worship, business, community and even state to make a difference today and ensure the future of our Monarch tomorrow. All it takes is your involvement. The Live Monarch Foundation charter enables them to directly compensate you for your efforts to collect funds. A full 20% of whatever funds you or your group collects can go directly to you and your community. You will directly impact your local area with the creation of natural butterfly preserves through the placement of suitable plants and specially bred caterpillars and butterflies which will continue their life cycle in your preserve as it is established. Imagine what it would be like for you to personally act to bring butterflies back to your community and create a self-sustaining resource for the enjoyment and enrichment of so many in your area. Please click here for examples of programs in action.

ONE LAST THING

Hey, you made it all the way down here to the bottom of the page. Here is some extra information. We know Alaska has No Native Milkweed and other growing regions for milkweeds on these maps are subject to variation too. This are just quick guideline maps and we hope you take our advice and do some more research so you can request the type of seed that will do the best for you and your community of fluttering friends. Thanks again for taking the effort to learn and make good choices!

Common Milkweed Seeds

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Milkweed is one of the Monarch Butterflies’ favorite plants and will bring many winged friends to your garden or meadow. It can be a challenge to grow but once established it will thrive for years to come and spread quickly. Perennial.

USDA Hardiness Planting Zones

To determine if a plant is sufficiently cold hardy, the USDA created numbered zones indicating winter low temperatures; the lower the zone number the colder the winter.

  • If the coldest winter temperature expected in your area is -15°F (zone 5) then any plants rated zones 3-5 will survive the winter temperatures in your area.
  • If you live in very warm winter areas (zones 9-11) plants with zones 3-4 ratings are not recommended. The lack of freezing winter temperatures do not provide a time for winter dormancy (rest).

Find Your Planting Zone:

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a handsome, straight plant you see in every farm field and growing wherever a roadside hasn’t been mowed. Leaves are glossy and thick, and the blooms are large, rounded clusters of purplish/pink flowers atop plants that range from 2 to 5 ft. It’s native in the US from Canada to Georgia, and west to Texas.

The botanical name, “Asclepias”; is after Aesclepios, the Greek God of medicine, since this plant has been used as a medicinal since ancient times. “Milkweed” derives from the fact that when you break a stem, sticky white sap immediately appears. Common Milkweed is one of our commonest “weeds,” but one almost all wildflower gardeners want.

This is the plant famous for its “silky seeds” in fall, when you see the drying cone-shaped seedpods crack open and their snow-white shiny fluff flying around the meadow. This is the dispersal mechanism for the large shiny seeds of common milkweed. Every kid loves to blow them away in fall, like dandelion seeds in spring.

Even though farmers hate milkweed, you’ll love it in your wildflower garden. for two reasons. It’s beautiful and dependably perennial, and it’s the No. 1 plant visited by Monarch butterflies on their famous migration south every summer and fall. In fact, during late summer, it’s somewhat rare to see a milkweed plant without a monarch perched upon the flowers, making it the No. 1 butterfly magnet among our wildflowers. (“Butterfly Weed” is a close relative, with bright orange flowers.)

Native Range for Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) – AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV.

Attract Butterflies To Your Garden With Milkweed!

Understanding Milkweed (Asclepias) Seed & Germinating

Germination: To start Milkweed seed we recommend starting inside, but before this happens Milkweed seeds need to go through a cold stratification period. Cold stratification is very important for the germination and growth of Milkweed. It helps break the seeds natural dormancy cycle. To do this, we recommend placing Milkweed seed in a damp paper towel or damp sand in a zip lock bag and place in your fridge for 3 – 6 weeks (30 days). Place in an area of the fridge, where it won’t get damaged. We taped ours to the bottom of a refrigerator shelf.

Growing Indoors

Planting In Spring: Once the 30 days are complete, it’s time to plant the cold stratified Milkweed (asclepias) seeds. We recommend planting in 2-4” peat pots. Fill peat pots ¾ of the way with seed starting potting soil and gently add water. Water should be able to drain through the peat pots. Once the soil is damp, place 1-2 cold stratified seeds into each pot. To finish, place 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seed.

Planting In Fall: If you’re planting Milkweed seed in the fall, let nature do the cold stratification for you! There is no need to place your seeds in the refrigerator before planting, you can plant seeds directly into the soil after there have been a few frosts in your area. This allows for the seeds to remain dormant for the winter and come up in the early spring. Clear away any existing growth and using your index finger to measure, create 1.5″ holes for each Milkweed seed. We recommend spacing seeds about 4-6” apart. Place a seed in each hole and cover. Water thoroughly.

Watering: Gently water the planted seed to give additional hydration. The best way to water is from the bottom up. Use a flat pan under the peat pots and add a half inch of water to the bottom of the tray. Don’t over water as it can cause fungus. Water every day or every other day as needed, the best way to test the soil dampness is to touch it. If the soil seems dry then add water; if it’s wet, wait for the soil to dry out to water.

Light Requirements: For the next few weeks, make sure the Milkweed is either in a sunny window, in a green house or under a grow light. Milkweed needs lots of sun and warmth to grow. If you’re using a grow light, make sure to lower the bulb closer to the pots or your seedlings may become leggy, as they stretch to the light. In our experiment, this happened to us. Ideally a sturdier stem is better. Cold stratified seeds should germinate and sprout within 10-15 days once planted. In total Milkweed from the day they are cold stratified to growth can take 40 plus days, so be patient!

Other planting options: Place dry seed (not stratified) in seed starting soil and plant in peat pots under a grow light or in a greenhouse to germinate seeds. The success rate for this is low and more difficult to accomplish. If you choose to use this option it can take months for the seeds to germinate.

If you are planting seed outside, we suggest seeding in late fall, and let the Milkweed seed lay on the ground through winter. Milkweed seed will have a long winter of dormancy, so once the sun comes out and the ground warms in the spring, the seeds will germinate on their own.

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Transplanting Milkweed (Asclepias) Seedling Outdoors

Where to Plant: Milkweed does well in open areas with full sunlight exposure areas like fields, parks, cultivated gardens, roadsides, highway medians, and road sides. We suggest transplanting Milkweed when the plant is no larger than 3 inches tall. In most cases in transplanting, the Milkweed plant will go though some shock and could lose all its leaves. This happens, don’t panic. The plant is trying to establish its roots and will eventually grow leaves again. This is the main reason we suggest planting seeds in peat pots, because Milkweed roots are very sensitive. Peat Pots breakdown over time in the ground, which allows the milkweed roots to grows without being disrupted. We found this to be the best way to transplant. If you decide to plant in plastic containers, but make sure it’s deep enough for roots to grow. If you receive a plant already grown in plastic, be careful to take out the plant and not disturb the roots.

When to plant: Soil moisture and temperature are very important when growing Milkweed. The best time to plant Milkweed is in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. If you plant seeds late in the spring, the seeds may not grow due to Common Milkweed Field Grown germination time and temperature. Common Milkweed seed doesn’t germinate over 85 degrees.

Caring For Milkweed (Asclepias) Plants

Once your seedling is planted, water it for a few days to get it established, but after that, the plant doesn’t need a lot of supplemental water. Only water if you have an unusual dry spell. Peat pots are nice to use, but you need to be sure there is no top edge above the soil line after transplanting. In dry climates, this will wick away valuable soil moisture. A small 2 1/2″ diameter x 3 in. deep pot is ideal. Asclepias are somewhat finicky native plants. So minimizing the time growing in a pot and transplanting them as young plants is the best approach.

As soon as your order is placed you will receive a confirmation email. You will receive a second email the day your order ships telling you how it has been sent. Depending upon your order date, we may hold your shipment to combine it with other products on your order, if applicable. See our shipping information page for approximate ship dates and more detailed information. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service toll-free at (877) 309-7333 or contact us by email.

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US Shipping Charges

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$5 to $399.99 $8.89 + 6% Merchandise Total
$400 and Over 8% Merchandise Total

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$25 to $49.99 $19.95
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If your order requires more than one shipment and all items are shipping to the same address, there is no additional shipping charge. If you have any questions, please call us at (877) 309-7333.

How to Score Free Milkweed Seeds for a Monarch-Friendly Garden

Support endangered monarch butterflies by growing milkweed, an essential host plant for these iconic butterflies.

Savanna Bous is a digital editorial assistant at Better Homes and Gardens. She graduated from Drake University in the spring of 2022 with degrees in magazine media, advertising, and digital media production.

Seeing a monarch butterfly is completely thrilling. Their huge, unmistakable black and orange wings are bewitching. Not only are they fascinating to look at, they’re also are important pollinators for fruit and flowers. But sadly, the International Union for Conservation of Nature officially declared the migratory monarch as an endangered species in July 2022. Their population has dropped with destruction of their habitats in Mexico and California and the loss of milkweed in breeding grounds in the Midwest and Canada. One of the most effective ways you can help monarch butterflies is to plant milkweed in your garden. Here’s how you can find free milkweed seeds to get started, plus find out how to grow milkweed for monarchs.

Why is milkweed important to monarchs?

Milkweed is a perennial flower native to North America that thrive in a wide array of ecosystems. This plant is essential to the life cycle of monarch butterflies because the insects need milkweed to lay their eggs. When the eggs hatch, milkweed is the only plant the white, black, and yellow striped caterpillars will eat. This makes it an essential element for helping the next generation of monarchs grow and hatch each season. It’s more important now that the monarch population is declining so alarmingly.

How to Get Free Milkweed Seeds

To lend monarch butterflies a helping hand, some organizations are making milkweed seeds more accessible for everyone. They send the seeds to gardeners, students, and enthusiasts to support the conservation of butterflies and their habitats. The organizations that send free seeds include Live Monarch, Monarch Watch, and Little Wings.

Live Monarch is celebrating 21 years of helping monarch butterflies. Live Monarch states that this program is for students, educators, and those in need. They ask if you can afford the seeds to purchase them yourself. To get free seeds, mail a self addressed, stamped envelope to Live Monarch – 2022 Seed Campaign, Po Box 1339, Blairsville, Georgia 30514. In return, you’ll receive 15 or more milkweed seeds for your region. Due to the organization’s popularity and increased demand, it takes approximately 2-4 weeks to receive the seeds.

Monarch Watch offers free seeds for habitat restoration projects. To participate, you must have two acres of land or 1/4 of an acre in California. A few places are not eligible to participate in this program including Canada, South Carolina, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and parts of Texas and North Carolina. You have submit an application. If selected, you cover the shipping and within a week will have tons of milkweed seeds to plant based on your location.

Little Wings provides free seeds through their website. Currently, they only have stock in common milkweed, which is a versatile variety that should grow in many regions. Click the “add to cart” button on the available seeds. Once in the cart, add your shipping info. In 1-2 week, your milkweed seeds should arrive and you can start planting.

Common Milkweed Varieties

There are over 70 types of native milkweed (Asclepias spp.) throughout the United States. When planting milkweed, try to find the right variety for your location. This way you don’t run into issues with seasonality, weather conditions, and winter hardiness.

Best Milkweed Varieties for the Northeast

  • Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata)
  • Common milkweed (A. syriaca)
  • Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa)
  • Clasping milkweed (A. amplexicaulis)
  • Poke milkweed (A. exaltata)
  • Fourleaf milkweed (A. quadrifolia)

Best Milkweed Varieties for the Southeast

  • Clasping milkweed (A. amplexicaulis)
  • Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa)
  • Radring milkweed (A. variegata)
  • Whorled milkweed (A. verticillata)
  • Green comet milkweed (A. viridiflora)
  • Pinewooods milkweed (A. humistrata)
  • Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata)
  • Longleaf milkweed (A. syriaca)
  • Tropical milkweed (A. curassavica)

Best Milkweed Varieties for the Midwest

  • Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata)
  • Showy milkweed (A. speciosa)
  • Common milkweed (A. syriaca)
  • Whorled milkweed (A. verticillata)
  • Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa)

Best Milkweed Varieties for the South

  • Green antelope horn milkweed (A. viridis)
  • Antelope horn milkweed (A. asperula)
  • Broadleaf milkweed (A. latifolia)
  • Zizotes milkweed (A. oenotheroides)
  • Butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa)
  • Swamp milkweed (A. incarnata)
  • Arizona milkweed (A. angustifolia)
  • Rush milkweed (A. subulata)
  • Tropical milkweed (A. curassavica)

Best Milkweed Varieties for the Northwest

  • Showy milkweed (A. speciosa)
  • Broadleaf milkweed (A. latifolia)

Best Milkweed Varieties for California

  • Mexican whorled milkweed (A. fascicularis)
  • Heartleaf milkweed (A. cordifo-lia)
  • Woolly milkweed (A. vestita)
  • California milkweed (A. californica)
  • Desert milkweed (A. erosa)
  • Woolypod milkweed (A. eriocarpa)

How to Plant Milkweed Seeds

If you get milkweed seeds for your garden, you can plant them in spring or fall. Start them indoors in late winter or early spring. Growing the plants inside for a few months gives them extra time to mature before transplanting outside. Plant your milkweed seedlings outside after the last sign of frost in your region. In the fall, simply scatter the seeds outdoors where you want them to grow. They won’t sprout until they’ve been exposed to freezing temperatures. Once spring comes, the seeds will be ready to start growing. They may not bloom the first year, but they’ll still have leaves to offer to monarch caterpillars.

The monarch butterfly population won’t recover overnight, but gardeners all across the country can help just by including a few milkweed plants in their yards. Don’t forget to mail in your envelop and donation (if able!) to an organization that offers free milkweed seeds. In addition to milkweed, adult monarchs also love nectar-rich plants like lantana, rudbeckia, and yarrow. These flowering plants make it easy to beautify your garden and help monarch butterflies.

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