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Name: Peggy C
Graham NC USA (Zone 7b)
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PeggyC
Apr 24, 2015 1:07 PM CST
For zone 7b, what is the Milkweed to plant ... have read on some ag sites that Monarchs can become sick/die if the wrong kind of Milkweed is planted in your zone.

Thanks for the help !
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Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
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KentPfeiffer
Apr 24, 2015 5:24 PM CST

Plants Admin

Zone doesn't matter much, but it would be best to plant species that are native to your area. Among those, I'd think the following species would be the easiest to come by:

Bluntleaf Milkweed (Asclepias amplexicaulis)

Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata) (this is a woodland species)

Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Red Milkweed (Asclepias rubra)
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Apr 24, 2015 5:28 PM CST
For the Piedmont area I found this information from two sources;
[url=www.hiltonpond.org]www.hiltonpond.org[/url]
http://guilford.ces.ncsu.edu/2014/07/milkweeds-for-butterfli...

Asclepias tuberosa,
A. syriaca,
A. incarnata,
A. Amplexicaulis,
A. Viridiflora,
A. Variegata ,
A. verticillata.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Kent Pfeiffer
Southeast Nebraska (Zone 5b)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator Plant Identifier Region: Nebraska Forum moderator
Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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KentPfeiffer
Apr 24, 2015 7:34 PM CST

Plants Admin

Asclepias tuberosa - often recommended for monarchs, although I rarely see monarch caterpillars feeding on the ones in my yard, they seem to prefer other species of milkweed. Shrug!
Asclepias syriaca - a very aggressive plant. Could be used if you have a meadow type planting, but frankly, you'll probably regret planting it in a typical yard
Ascelpias incarnata- mentioned above
Asclepias amplexicaulis - ditto
Asclepias viridiflora - seed is difficult to come by. Plants are rather, let's say, "unshowy"
Asclepias variegata - difficult to grow
Asclepias verticillata - another aggressive milkweed I wouldn't want to deal with in a yard or conventional flower bed. Not sure if monarchs feed on it or not, it's a slender plant with extremely narrow leaves, doesn't look like it would support a caterpillar the size of a monarch. Shrug!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Apr 24, 2015 8:10 PM CST
I wonder if @mellielong in Florida has any suggestions.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
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mellielong
Apr 24, 2015 9:24 PM CST
Well, I'm in zone 9b so my requirements are a little different. I think what Peggy may be referring to is the latest news that got blown out of proportion about Tropical Milkweed. (A. curassavica). There has been much to do about it lately thanks to a study that came out about the plant and its connection to the OE spore that infects and kills Monarchs.

OE is a naturally occurring spore that can and does make Monarchs sick and will kill them. It's most obvious when you have a chrysalis that turns black and never emerges or when you have a Monarch that gets "stuck" while emerging from the chrysalis. But some Monarchs do live and they spread it when they lay their eggs. The spores also exist on the plants so the caterpillars and eggs can become infected just by being there.

Now, the problem is that Tropical Milkweed is one of the most widely available milkweeds. It's generally the only one I see for sale in Home Depot and Lowe's. It also grows pretty much year round unless we get a freeze. Even then, I've fed the caterpillars wilted, damaged leaves and they will accept them in captivity.

Well, not long ago a study came out that said Tropical Milkweed was evil because it doesn't go dormant like the native milkweeds. This, the study said, kept Monarchs from migrating like they were supposed to. It encouraged them to stop and breed when they normally would just keep flying on to Mexico. And because the plant never goes dormant, the OE spores were on the plant all the time! They never went away! And so the study showed that Monarchs on Tropical Milkweed were infested at a much higher rate than those that had fed on other milkweeds.

The press kind of blew this one out of proportion and scared a lot of gardeners who thought they were doing good. Now, personally I did tear up all my Tropical Milkweed last year because I am trying to go as native as I can. That's a personal choice. I've had A. tuberosa for years and yes, the Monarchs nearly always picked the Tropical Milkweed instead. However, this spring I have not been able to keep them off the A. tuberosa. I think, if given the choice, they will go for the natives. I am also growing Giant Milkweed (Calotropis gigantea) because the Monarchs rarely lay eggs on it and it has made for a good back-up food source. They've been laying on it this year and I'll probably get rid of it once I have enough native milkweeds growing.

The only people who really need to be concerned are people who live where Tropical Milkweed doesn't die back. If they still want to grow it, Monarch Watch is suggesting they just keep it cut back in the winter to discourage any egg-laying. They feel planting any milkweed is better than planting none. Of course, I think planting natives are best if you can find them. It's always easier to plant natives in your garden because they require less care. I also think butterflies are more apt to choose the plants they evolved alongside for millions of years. Kent gave some really good suggestions for specific species above. One source I have bought seeds from is Everwilde Farms: [url=www.everwilde.com]www.everwilde.com[/url] Each plant has a little map that shows you where it's native so you don't buy the wrong one. They do carry some of the species Kent mentioned but they're out of stock on some right now. Sometimes I just Google the Latin name and see what vendors come up. Finding native plants is getting somewhat easier than it used to be, but it can still be a challenge.

So that was a really long post! I'll just sum up by saying that I have fed Monarchs native and non-native species and haven't noticed any difference in survival rates. Going native is generally best. And I probably should have said this first, but Welcome! Peggy!
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Jean
Prairieville, LA (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Identifier The WITWIT Badge Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Moonhowl
Apr 24, 2015 9:40 PM CST
Welcome to ATP Peggy. I think this article may also help clarify things.

http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/can-milkweed-be-bad-for...

And this one offers a whole list of plants for butterflies and their larva in your area.

http://www.carolinanature.com/plants4leps.html
Name: Melanie Long
Lutz, Florida (Zone 9b)
Larva tested, Pupa approved!
Butterflies Hummingbirder Birds Bee Lover Enjoys or suffers hot summers Region: Florida
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Bromeliad Native Plants and Wildflowers Forum moderator Plant Identifier
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mellielong
Apr 25, 2015 12:54 PM CST
I hope we haven't overwhelmed Peggy! We're a very helpful bunch on this site! And thanks for the thumbs up and acorns, guys. Totally unexpected, but much appreciated.
Moderator of the best forum on ATP, the Butterflies, Bees, and Birds forum!
Name: Peggy C
Graham NC USA (Zone 7b)
hand drumming with friends
Region: North Carolina Butterflies Irises Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Level 1
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PeggyC
Apr 25, 2015 1:19 PM CST
Wellllll -- no, not exactly overwhelmed --- but, y'all are on the ball !
Guess y'all figured I was reading all the helpful links [ and bookmarking them ! ]


Do appreciate it very much!

Last evening, took a photo of this guy --- loved the colors, only to find out that he really doesn't need to be in my yard. Can I find him today ? Of course not !

Sigh .. shall be vigilant !


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