Pond Boss
Hey Ya'll

We are all nature lovers right?

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed), and other milkweeds

Is absolutely vital to the life cycle of the Monarch butterfly.

Some studies are showing these butterflies are at about 1% of the population it had in the 80s due to loss of habitat.

These flowers are pretty, grow in wet environments, and other types of milkweed grow in dry ground.

If I sent yall some seed packets, would you plant em?
My wife and I continue to plant swamp milkweed near our ponds and wetlands. It has formed nice colonies in some places and does have an attractive flower. I have observed more monarch caterpillars on the swamp milkweed plants compared with the other perennial milkweed species on our place. Our non-hardy tropical milkweed also seems to be very attractive to monarchs and makes a good flower-garden plant. We continue to spread swamp milkweed around. I also found that clay-adapted butterfly weed does very well on our soil (also a milkweed). We probably have about 10,000 milkweed plants on our place (mostly common milkweed), but we need them to be planted all along the migration route, so please help from south to north! https://www.prairienursery.com/butterflyweed-for-clay-asclepias-tuberosa-var-clay.html
Let me see what some of the gurus say about the plant. If it not an invasive species around here I would be more than happy to plant some.
Note that a non-migrating population of Monarchs are present in Florida. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw311
Stringer- it is NOT invasive, it's Native 100%.
Even if you dont get monarchs right away you WILL get other butterflies/moths/pollinators.

RAH- That is awesome. I have big plans for milkweed at the new lake smile Passionflower is also great, and super easy to propogate. I've got 8 that I've harvested into pots ready for planting at the new place frpom the 1 i purchased last spring.
CityDad - While you clearly do not live in the Midwest, you might enjoy this group even though it is small and has few recent posts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442011656723370/ Would love for you to post pics there as you progress.
Found a pic of swamp milkweed near our pond. A little blurry though:
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
You can buy the seed from https://www.cardnonativeplantnursery.com/ and maybe plugs if the time of the year is right.

Price sheet:https://www.cardnonativeplantnursery.com/current-inventory-pricing

Look on the first page of the price sheet (you will have to open the PDF). Look for any plant starting with the name Asclepias but if looking for only Swamp Milkweed, look for Asclepias incarnata

There may be other native seed nurseries around but this is the one that I use because it's the closest to me.
City dad are you harvesting seed from your property or purchasing it? If you are harvesting it I would take you up on the seed offer. I have some places that it would do well.
Not native to California https://www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/asclepias_incarnata.shtml
CB I am willing to buy you your first seed kit. The only extras I currently have in my garden are some passionflower vines that I have plans for already. Butterflies came through and mowed down all my stuff before they could seed this year. Good problem to have imo!


California has 19 types of milkweed to choose from if you want California only! I doubt a native plant group would look at you sideways for planting incarnata in a wet area in Cali.
I am not a purist, but simply wanted to suggest that it is not native to CA so other species might be more appropriate there.
I have several different milkweed varieties growing right now. I don't know wether it will flourish in California. I imagine it would do well but I don't know about planting it if it is considered invasive.
I have not seen anywhere that it is considered invasive. You might look up seed suppliers and see if they restrict shipment to CA. My quick search did not seem to indicate any shipping restrictions.
I do hope there remains a future for Monarch Butterflies. I remember only 25 years ago what I perceived to be clouds of them making their migration south along I-44 in OK. The highway was littered with butterflies. I remember wondering if the highway served a behavior that put them at greater risk. The interstate ran northeast to southwest and this may have been the direction their inner compass was telling them to fly.

Their is much risk of losing the Monarchs and I do hope efforts like this are able to save them.
The biggest threat the highways pose is destroying their habitat, and then alongside palm trees are planted instead of milkweed frown
#1 Daughter bought four potted marsh milkweeds at a native plant sale in the spring of '19.

We planted those around the pond bank, and so far they seem to be doing well.
They look just like the variety in the pic posted by RAH.

We have protected the common dry land milkweed on our property to the extent that it's practical,
and it is becoming more prevalent every year. We like to keep the horse pastures mowed to keep
the weeds down, but the patches of milkweed are left alone until they die back in the fall. It also
saves me from having to run the weed whacker on the road bank at the end of our driveway. The
neighbors probably think I'm lazy, but I'm really just feeding the monarchs.
I, too, mow around any of the milkweed-like plants on my property. It seems to be improving the populations. Not quite as fast as I'd like, but I get a few more every year. I leave my flower patches that have been mowed around until late winter/early early spring before mowing them down. I am betting the seeds do better on the dead plant through the winter than mowed down and left to settle into the grasses for the mice and bugs...I don't really know, but it's what I do.
Originally Posted by CityDad
The biggest threat the highways pose is destroying their habitat, and then alongside palm trees are planted instead of milkweed frown

The loss of 99% of the population is an alarming statistic CityDad. I have my doubts that habitat is the sole cause of this but am also confident that automobiles are not a significant factor either. To me, Monarchs are like a canary in the coal mine and are warning of more of what we are likely to see. The loss of song birds are similarly alarming (though there seems to be an abundance of water turkey frown ). Let's hope we figure this out before its too late. Habitat improvement is a good step in the right direction but I do think factors we do not yet understand are also at play.
Where did see that the monarch butterfly population is down 99%? Is this just for the western population? As a point of interest, we had 4 monarch pupate on our porch but only 2 emerged. The other 2 seemed to be diseased.
CityDad remarked about it in the original post (relative to the 80s). I accepted the number without challenging it. To be sure, I don't often see Monarchs nowadays in the big city. Its always a treat when we do.

Rod, if your observations reflect a pathogen that the population had not been exposed in the past, it wouldn't be first time this has happened. Other examples that resulting in great losses are the American elm and the American chestnut.
Disease as well as climate change have been suggested, but milkweed got a big boost due to the introduction of widespread farming by European settlers, but this was reversed by improvements in weed control. I think that we only had reliable counts on Monarchs since the 1990s, but I also have witnessed the decline, and more recently an increase which I attribute to increased plantings of milkweed. Time will tell, but we are doing what we can on our place. It is really no hardship to add milkweed to our habitat improvement activities, along with other flowering plants. We saw quite a few giant swallowtails this year which was nice, but I am not sure where they were finding their larval host plants.

I am probably wrong but one very important habitat could be their overwintering refuge in Mexico. Global warming could effect overwintering survival there. One line thought is that they may age faster in a milder climate over the winter with fewer surviving to reproduce the subsequent spring.

In northern OK, one of the factors greatly affecting prairie spaces is the proliferation of blackjack oaks. In the past, trees were primarily concentrated along creeks. Fire suppression has allowed the blackjacks to take over. Even so, there is a lot of milk weed still around and again I don't think this loss of habitat is solely responsible. Even so, tens of thousands of acres of prime upland milkweed habitat have been lost there do to this influence. But probably most of that habitat was lost before 1980. Nowadays ranchers burn annually to keep trees at bay. Few are using herbicides there except for maybe hay meadows. Milkweed is especially abundant on heavily grazed land.
Illegal logging of overwintering sites in Mexico is well recognized as a significant factor in Monarch butterfly decline. The even larger decline of the western population of monarchs seems to argue against any factor specific to the Midwest. Planting more milkweed seems to be helping, but we simply do not understand why this is happening or how it compares with historic fluctuations over long time intervals.
I would be more then happy to plant some of the swamp milkweed, not sure what it is but if its advantageous Id be glad to do it, and it looks beautiful.
Another issue we have in this area is a decline in honeybee numbers, we don't have near as many as we used to. and talking to bee keepers it is getting harder and harder to maintain healthy hives. but I think a lot of it has to do with some of the potent pesticides that are being used these days. makes one wonder if any of that has anything to do with the decline of Monarchs.
I have a 4.5 ac wetland Playa I would be willing to add to.. Otherwise I have a 2ac spot I am replanting back to a native prarie mix I could throw some seed in but no clay soils here so it would have to be the common variety.
The decline in Honeybees is due to a mite that infests the hive during the winter and it ends up killing the whole hive. I will ask the apiarist that I know, maybe they found a way to combat it. I know a few years ago there was no treatment for the mite.
Honey bee die offs are caused by a number of factors including mites and diseases, but yet-unidentified factors may still be involved. Of more concern to me is the reduced populations of native bees like bumble bees. Introducing honey bees (not native to the Americas), has been found to spread diseases to native bees, and honey bees compete with native bees and other native insects for nectar and pollen. Even so, we allow a local bee keeper to house around 10 honey bee hives on our place. We put them far from our vegetable field so they do not compete with the native bees in pollenating our crops. We also have "wild" honey bee hives on our place. Although we are surrounded by row crops, the bee keeper says that his domestic hives on our place are top honey producers. Honey bee apiaries are really a type of high-density confined-livestock operation, and they suffer the same types of disease and parasites that all such operations must deal with.
My son raises bees as polinators and as honey producers. In fact he is loading truck loads of bees this week where they are headed to the Calif almond fields. I can't say how many hives as it veries every year. But it is several tractor trailor loads. After he brings them back home he will rebuild the hives numbers and then send them to other areas that need the polinators. We do have milkweed here on the property ( I don't know what type) as well as many acres of clovers. I see alot of butterfies and bees on the place. He tells me the biggest problem is the roundup type of herbicide along with pesticides is a big problem with our bees. He does deal with mites but has a way to solve those type of problems but watching him I can say that mites and beatles are a problem. I don't get involved in his business but I do get free honey. He works with another company up north when it comes to some of his business. I don't want to say alot about his business because i am not the expert when it comes to the bees.

If anyone wants to send some milkweed seeds i will plant them on our place. But would want to check with the bee keeper first.
A couple of years ago I attempted to identify the native plants growing around our pond. With my younger brother's help, we identified dogbane, boneset, joe pye, ironweed, goldenrod, purple aster, white aster and swamp milkweed. During the identification process he strongly recommended allowing the swamp milkweed to propagate for the Monarchs. Now knowing what to look for, sure enough, I was finding a few of the familiar Monarch caterpillars munching the swamp milkweed leaves. And the butterflies extracting nectar from the flowers. So we've had a native growth of the plants for a long time, but I didn't use much discretion when it came to trimming the pond edges. Now I let the swamp milkweed grow and sacrifice it's flora to the Monarchs. My brother also encouraged my propagation of the Joe Pye weed both for aesthetics and for the pollinators.

When the native plants are allowed to grow to 3' and higher, I've found the plants to also act as windbreaks for catching leaves blowing from nearby trees. While I can't prove my theory regarding soil erosion reduction, I suspect that the YI and native plants are reducing the soil wash during heavy downpours. Along with this natural plant barrier, I've started reseeding the yard that's sloped to the pond too. Now if I can just stay on top of the occasional muskrat invasion.... I digress....

So count me in for maintaining and propagating swamp milkweed around the pond. Many small ponds in our area are mowed and maintained right to the water's edge. IMHO, however, I think allowing native plants to grow around the pond has many advantages for the fish, insects and wildlife. Just a matter of personal preference and philosophy. We're blessed to have the pond and if we can manage in a way to help the environment (and native species), it's a win-win.
TGW1 - All crop herbicides are designed to kill weeds while not harming the crop. Why would one implicate one of the safest and least persistent herbicides (glyphosate) as harming bees, unless you think farmers should grow weeds in their fields (which reduces yield requiring even more wildlife habitat to be converted to farmland)? As an entomologist, it always surprises me how superstitious many beekeepers are. Clearly, hauling honey bee hives all over the place to pollenate crops spreads diseases, but this is required for some crops like almonds and is understandable. Insecticides labels have restrictions to protect bees, especially during flowering times. When the global issue of colony collapse in honey bees first appeared, all types of potential causes were theorized. However, when these problems were also occurring in areas far from where pesticide sprays were being made, it became apparent that these chemicals could not be the cause. BTW - All pesticides are specifically evaluated for honey bee toxicity as part of regulatory requirements for approval.
I'm glad to see everyone here in support of our pollinators!

SO far i only see 1 taker for a pack of seeds?
Sign me up Citydad.
I will plant as many as you want to send. I can plant them all around my pond, and I have access to a swampy in the Spring, dry in the late summer 7 acre field that I can plant them in too, if they will do well there.
Rah, Thanks for the info. As i said i don't get involved in his business. I just supply some land for the bees. I can say only what i have been told by him and i know he is very active in our local bee keepers association. And I believe most of the bee keepers might disagree when it comes to herbicides, pesticides and bee colonies when it comes to if they harm the colonies. Hay, they make a living with bees and see what goes on. I agree that herbicides are nice to have when growing because they keep the weeds in control.. My deer food plots are not near as productive as they were when i used the herbicides that I no longer use. It's not worth the problem it causes in the family when i use them. Another thing when it comes the the food plots is the deer also eat the new growth weeds.

The way i see it is if it were not for the bee keepers the number of hives would be alot lower. I see him building new hives all the time. The number will double to tripple most years. Hed is also a producer of new queens that go out to the bee keepers every year.
I've got a couple good acres of naturally occuring milkweed around my cabin. I make it a point to keep as much of it in place as possible. I did have to mow some out to make appropriate yard and firebreak space. Even after that, I've got ample monarchs on my place all summer long.

My place is a whitetail hunting property above all else. Pond is in the works though too. I run the whole place as a natural ecosystem. Since I've re-established clovers and wild flowers, started managing the timber and have been digging water holes, my bee, butterfly, and moth population has gone through the roof.

I think we overcomplicate this stuff. If we'd just stop most of the things we're doing and add a couple simple improvements, I think nature would heal itself. Whether or not specific inputs kill things doesn't matter. You can leave the actual organism unharmed, but if every single thing that organism depends on is destroyed, well that's just the same thing in my book.
Build it and they will come!
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
Is there a way to do personal mesages on this forum? If not add me on facebook Devon Garbus (im the only one)
And sned me your address for seed packets
Click on the persons name and move down to "private message".
Citydad I sent you a pm. Look right next to your name at the top of the page. The envelop should be blinking.
Thanks, so far 2 takers.
Sent out 2 seed packets each today and I replied to your messages with an article on making sure they germinate.
I will try one in the fridge and put one outside. Plenty cold outside for stratification.
Here's a simple article on getting these types of seeds to get a good start. Probably the one that CityDad has shared...


City...PM sent to you!
I think its the same one just stolen from the site i'm buying the seeds from!

Had some more responses this AM so I sent a few more out.

Thanks for teh responses guys! I wasn't sure about posting my affection for butterflies/pollinators here glad to see yall are interested in protecting endangered pollinators.
CityDad, how close to the water do they need to be? How much sun do they need, etc...? I'm trying to figure out if I have a good area for some.
Any and all who would like to increase their interest in, and further their understanding of pollinators, please check out Dr. Kirsten Traynor's new quarterly journal "2Million Blossoms", subtitled "protect our pollinators". There are nearly 20 articles in the current addition (Winter 2021).

Both digital and print subscriptions are available. The in-depth articles are well researched, and written by some of the "names" in entomological study. @RAH, we're waiting to see a piece penned by you.

Here are some links:

Enjoy. I scour the print version with nearly as much focus and enthusiasm as I do our PondBoss magazine.
4CornersPuddle - I did publish a dozen peer-reviewed papers in 2020, and four more in 2021 so far, but in different areas of study. I am a big advocate of wildlife habitat conservation and restoration facilitated by higher agricultural production on less land. We have lived this mantra on our land, and I have lived the latter professionally as well. Pond and wetland construction/restoration are critical parts of these efforts, and the expertise offered by members of this forum has been much appreciated. In addition to helping pollinators, A prairie or pond edge in full bloom is very pretty too! Need to look carefully to see the bumble bees. How many do you see in each pic?
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
RAH- Didnt know you were a conservationist! that is awesome as heck. Send us some links of your articles?
My articles are not really on conservation, but rather on the advantages of sustainable intensification of agriculture to enable wildlife conservation. They largely are on the safety assessment of GE crops and how they benefit human and environmental health.
Thank you Citydad. My seeds came in the mail today. I received 2 packages and will give one to my neighbor. She loves all the butterflies and that type of thing.

Attached File
Thanks Citydad. My 2 packages of seeds came in the mail yesterday as well. I put them in the freezer and will pull them out when it gets closer to planting time.
Glad yall are getting em, if you havent in the next week or so shoot me another message and Ill check.

If you want MORE I buy form

Just found this site with resources for buying pollinator seed

RAH- Thanks! Great links in there. Found some great bulk pasture seeding from one of those links smile
I'd love some seed! I have 3 swampy areas that get daylight. I already collect seed from common milkweed and butterfly milkweed. I do not have swamp milkweed. Message me for my address! This is a great thing you are doing and a good idea to reach people with environment.

I have added other native plants to my swampy area.

I might post this request for duck boxes!
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