"A rescued butterfly in the hand may be worth two caterpillars in the bush" - The male Monarch above was released in early November here in Garland, Texas. According to most statistics, 96% of all rescued monarchs make it to adulthood while less than 5% of those in the wild survive to adulthood.
I am working with a teacher from Watson Technology Center here in Garland to create a butterfly habitat with their students at the school. This proposed butterfly garden will be a unique design, especially suited for our drought-prone area: a combined straw bale/hugelkultur design. This design we believe would be suitable for a vegetable garden as well. Installation is scheduled to begin in late February. If you would like to read more about this type of garden and also check out some resources for milkweed, just visit the homepage for Loving Garland Green.org. Building a Monarch WayStation .
Our Mayor, Douglas Athas, has taken the Mayors' Monarch Pledge and Loving Garland Green is supporting the Mayors office in encouraging Garland residents to plant milkweed. We have flower gardens all over Garland. Most of them are missing only one main ingredient to become a butterfly habitat for Monarchs: milkweed plants.
In terms of planting and growing milkweed, there are just about as many opinions as there are experts. We plan to try several different methods for planting milkweed, including obtaining some plugs.
Here is one process from the Native American Seed folks that we plan to follow. In addition to following this method, we will also try simply soaking the seed overnight and planting it--in a pot and in the garden soil.
According to the experts at Native American Seed, most Native Milkweed plants do not do well in containers because of their long tap root. One of their experts recommends the following process.
Milkweed Stratification Procedures, Courtesy Native American Seed
Sterile rubber (latex) gloves should be worn at all times containers and implements should also be sterile. Otherwise, mold can grow in the vermiculite and damage the seeds.
1. Mix seeds with pre-chilled distilled water and let soak for 24 hours in the fridge.
2. After 24 hours, pour seeds into strainer and rinse with distilled water.
3. Moisten vermiculite with distilled water--moist but not dripping is best.
4. Mix rinsed seeds into vermiculite using your hands, and wear sterile gloves.
5. Seal container and store in fridge for 30-45 days at 35-45 degrees. Remove and plant immediately if you see mold.
6. Plant entire mixture or sift seeds out and plant in prepared seed bed when soil temps are warm (70 degrees+).
7. Water often until germination occurs.