For those of you interested in planting some native milkweed in your yard this summer to provide habitat for the Monarch butterfly, this is the weekend to get the young seedlings from our local source in St. Andrews Square. Hancock Park Garden Club member Liz Gabor has nurtured over 100 seedlings of the asclepias fascicularus, or narrow-leaf milkweed, from seed to seedling in her backyard and they are finally ready to take home and plant.
“These are my babies,” Gabor says, noting they were not easy to get started from seed. She has doted over them, having had to wait for nearly two and a half weeks for the seeds to germinate, finding just the right combination of water, sun and shade, and then coaxing them upward with her attention over the past two months.
Gabor was featured on the Larchmont Buzz earlier this spring, for her story of raising a number of Monarchs in her dining room, who happened to emerge from their chrysalises on Christmas morning.
The narrow-leaf milkweed “native” to our area is hard to find in local nurseries, which usually sells the Honduran or tropical milkweed that can actually harm the Monarch butterfly because of a fungus it carries.
The seedlings are still very small but can be planted in the garden and should take off quite quickly provided the plant is somewhat protected: not mowed over or eaten by an animal. Once put into the ground, Gabor has found that the milkweed will grow quite quickly, it’s long root system tapping deep into the soil.
Milkweed is indeed a weed, and used to be found abundantly along the roadsides and in fields across the U.S., but has been killed off by overzealous humans using pesticides and planting vast swaths of mono-crops. Milkweed is the only host plant for Monarch reproduction, and the only plant the new caterpillars will feed on. It is believed that if a sufficient number of yards in an area (70 somewhat contiguous yards) plant milkweed, it could become a Monarch “Waystation” for the migrating butterflies.
To be a part of the Pollinator Project in Hancock Park, email Liz Gabor to get times and details. Each plant will be sold for $6 (4″ pot) and $12 (gallon pot) with the funds being generated for the Pollinator Project of the Hancock Park Garden Club.
Larchmont Buzz: Pollinators in Peril – Plant for Monarchs
This is a part of the Larchmont Buzz series on spring planting, pollinators in peril, and drought tolerant garden design.