Milkweed for Monarchs Images
Milkweed for Monarchs Images

Milkweed for Monarchs

May 2021

This is a great time to plant native milkweed for one of the most beloved butterflies, the monarch.

Female butterflies search out specific host plants to lay their eggs on and if you are a monarch, you are searching for milkweed. Hungry caterpillars will eat for 7-12 days before turning into a chrysalis, so it’s a good idea to have plenty of plants. Milkweed is also the host plant for the queen butterfly and soldier butterfly, so it is possible to have 3 species feeding on them. South Florida’s native species of milkweed grow during the warmer months and die back in winter.

The following species are available for purchase at Florida Nursery Mart right here in Cooper City:

  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), well suited for dry soils, full sun.
  • Pink milkweed (A. incarnata), best in moist areas with full to partial sun.
  • White milkweed (A. perennis), best suited for wetter, shady areas.

It is important to note that non-native tropical milkweed (A. curassavica) grows year-round and even though widely available at nurseries, is being studied as a potential spreader of OE (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha), a debilitating protozoan parasite infecting monarchs.

Native plant species evolved with native wildlife so whenever you can add natives to your yard, you are helping create a more sustainable habitat. This is true for the milkweeds. They are good for the monarchs and also provide nectar and pollen for many other species of pollinators.

Cooper City is a Certified Community Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation. This became possible in part because so many residents certified their yards as wildlife habitats and continue to garden for birds and butterflies.

Mayor Ross signed the Mayors’ Monarch Pledge committing to help restore habitat for the monarch butterfly. The good news is planting milkweed is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. Plant it, they will come.

Submitted by Diana Guidry

The City of Cooper City Green Advisory Board Member