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Backyard Wildlife Gardening Sustainability

Plant Milkweed Now to Help Monarchs

Plant Milkweed Now to Help Monarchs

by Carolyn Hasenfratz

If you have been doing any reading about gardening lately, you have probably encountered many articles urging people to plant milkweeds for Monarch butterflies whose numbers have declined at an alarming rate in recent years. At the risk of bringing up a topic again that is already well-covered, I will mention milkweeds because right now is a great time to plant them. Milkweed seeds need a period of cold in order to germinate. Last year I simulated that effect by cold-stratifying Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed seeds in the refrigerator – a successful effort that resulted in many new plants. This year I’m going to use nature to accomplish the task.

The photo above shows a Monarch caterpillar on the left and monarch chrysalis on the right on swamp milkweed in my garden. My proudest garden achievement of 2015!

The most recent issue of Missouri Conservationist has a timely article about planting milkweeds. They recommend planting the seeds outdoors in January or February in weed-free bare soil. Press the seeds into the soil. If planting into pots, sprinkle 1/4 inch of soil on top of the seeds and press down. Place the pot in a sunny exposed area and water regularly after the seeds sprout. Transplant after the plants have two to three sets of true leaves.

If you start milkweed seeds this winter you will probably not get any flowers from your milkweeds until next year, but caterpillars can still use them as a host plant until then. Try planting some annuals among them to add color and hide leaves that caterpillars have chewed until you get blooms. When they do flower, get ready for quite a show of winged visitors! Schnarr’s carries three varieties of Milkweed seeds – pick some up now to improve your habitat!

By Carolyn Hasenfratz Winkelmann

Carolyn was raised in a DIY household. From an early age she was encouraged to try everything from baking to soldering. These days she enjoys paper crafts, mixed media crafts, sewing, ceramics, mosaics, gardening, making things out of wood, home decor projects and upcycling found items into useable and decorative objects.

In the past Carolyn has worked in the retail, web design, and marketing fields. She now works part time at Schnarr's as a cashier, helps with the store's marketing efforts, writes her own blog and craft tutorials, and teaches craft classes. Carolyn’s father introduced her to hardware stores, his tools, and the “stuff stash” that every DIYer collects. It’s no surprise that time spent at Schnarr’s makes her giddy in the presence of things you can use to create! She still loves working on projects with her Dad and it's a treat to make a joint trip to the hardware store!

Carolyn is excited for the opportunity to help Schnarr's customers enrich their lives with creative and fun projects. She wants as many people as possible to experience the joy that DIY projects have brought to her life.

Other places to share Carolyn’s passion for creating:

Carolyn Hasenfratz Design Blog - http://www.chasenfratz.com/wp/

Carolyn's Stamp Store - http://www.carolynsstampstore.com/catalog/index.php

Carolyn's Pinterest Boards - https://www.pinterest.com/chasenfratz/

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