Thursday, May 19, 2011


It's been raining off and on today.  I did a little planting and looking around the yard after work.  While supper was cooking, I went out and took photos of the milkweed plants and what caterpillars I could see.  Milkweeds come up later than most perennials. It's always a treat when I see that they have made it through the winter.  The smaller butterfly milkweeds don't live more than a few seasons here.

This stand of common milkweed was planted by the wind 2 or 3 years ago.  I have been pulling some of it out so it doesn't take over the whole flower bed.  It has not bloomed yet.  I wonder if it will this year.

It's a nicer looking plant than I was thinking it was.  Can you see the caterpillar?

Here it is!

This is 'Hello Yellow'.  I probably got it from a garden center.

I'm thinking there were 2 caterpillars on it.  Here is one of them.

This is the orange blooming butterfly milkweed, which is widely available from garden centers.

There were two on this one, too.

This is one of the swamp milkweeds I planted last spring.  I planted some white and pink blooming ones.   I got these from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, but I've also seen some at garden centers.

I saw one caterpiller on this one.

 I didn't see any caterpillars on this one today.

None were on this one, either.

I planted two purple milkweeds.  I don't remember if this one bloomed last year, but I know the one that did for sure did not survive the winter.  This one looks like it likes the spot where I planted it.  I got these from the arboretum, too.

I haven't seen any caterpillars on this one yet.

I also bought this showy milkweed from the arboretum.  I planted it at the edge of the vegetable garden.  On the other side of the fence is Virginia mountain mint, which attracts the black wasps that lay their eggs in caterpillars.  That wasn't very smart of me.  I just moved the mint there last year.  Maybe I should find another spot for it, but I'm guessing the wasps will find some of the caterpillars anyway.  I could stop growing the plant, but it's one of my favorites, and I've seen the wasps on other plants as well.  I just read on a site that some monarchs may not be able to tolerate this kind of milkweed if it is out of their normal range.  Do you know anything about that?

I saw a caterpillar on this plant a few days ago, and there are chew marks on the leaves, but I didn't see one today.  Should I be cutting the blooms off of the plants so they will focus on leaf growth?

The short and tall green milkweeds I also got from the arboretum were pretty small, and died back in the summer.  I don't think they made it, unless this is one of them.  Do any of you know if this is a green milkweed?  The leaves on the ones I planted were narrower than the other milkweeds.  I just looked at an online photo, and think this could be one.  I hope so!

I was planning on getting some rearing sleeves, but it's too late for this batch of caterpillars.  Have you ever used them?  My only concern is making sure to let the butterflies out when they hatch. 

I need to go visit some GBBD posts!  I hope all is well with you, and you are able to get into your gardens.


  1. I just picked up some orange butterfly weed, as well. It's such a pretty color in the garden and the butterflies seem to love it. Now, if the weather would just warm up so I could plant it... :)

  2. I'm jealous. I have no cats. : (

  3. I am waaaay behind in the Milkweed dept. I have one Orange Butterfly Milkweed that I got from Indian Cave State Park. The Superintendent at the time and I were swapping plants - I donate to the park and bring a touch of the park home with me. Seems the butterflies enjoy my Purple Coneflowers the best. Still waiting for Hummingbirds, but we have had a lot of the Spring migrating birds come through. Love the little critters feeding on your plants...they're the 'good guys'.

  4. Wow! You have so many Monarch caterpillars, and so many different kinds of milkweed! Great pictures of them. I hope they all grow into lovely butterflies.

  5. I just acquired milk weed seeds. Do I just direct sow the seeds. I have been asking around, but no one seems to know. Your pictures are fabulous!

  6. Hi Sue,
    Interesting post--I did not realize there were so many different milk weeds. What a fun garden with all the caterpillar/butterfly activity. I will be looking forward to see the different flowers of each.

  7. I need to plant some milkweed. Maybe that is why I see so few Monarchs in the garden. I know I have it on the farm but none in my yard.

  8. I planted some of the milkweed seed you sent and they are up.... oh less than an inch so you are way ahead of me.

    Looks like you will get some great butterfly shots soon.

  9. Looks like your garden will soon be full of butterflies, Sue! I haven't seen a single butterfly or caterpillar here yet this year; I hope they're just waiting for warmer weather.

    One of these years I'm going to plant some milkweed. I'm not sure that my husband will approve, though--we both spent too many summers while growing up pulling it out of soybean fields:) But I know the Monarchs love it and prefer it to the orange butterfly weed I do have.

  10. What an amazing array of Butterfly Weed! Back when I lived in Nebraska, it was usually referred to as Milkweed...and the common form your have is my favorite (it usually has those silvery-pink flowers, right?). So beautiful, but impossible to transplant (darn taproot). Can't wait to see if they bloom this year for you!

  11. Your collection is sure to bring you a lot of butterflies and caterpillars! My milkweed, planted last summer, is not coming back as strong as I would like. I'm not sure if the drought is the problem or location...they seemed fine last year though. I'm praying for some more rain and hopefully everything will perk up.

  12. What a nice variety, I have whorled also.

  13. Sue~~ The first milkweed you featured is a stunner. I love that foliage and want it, want it, want it. Good to know they leaf out later than most perennials. I've got one plant and it's just now showing signs of life. ... It must feel great to be catering to the monarch population. Kudos to you.

  14. Wow that is a lot of milkweed (for me :p). I hope your little guys flourish!

  15. It's all looking great, Sue. Especially the little catterpillars! ;)

  16. So glad to see the caterpillars. I planted milk weed seeds. Waiting for sprouts.

  17. Great that you have cats already! You do have a good supply for the Monarchs. You don't need to cut off the blooms. The bees will love those.

    My purple milkweed is blooming, but it took 4 years!

  18. We don't seem to talk much about growing things specially for caterpillars here in Australia. I love the idea.

  19. My Milkweed has only just started coming up, reseeded from last year's plants. I don't think they were up when the Monarchs came through earlier in the year, so I don't expect to see any caterpillars on them. They will be nice and big for the fall migration.

  20. Wow! I have tried to get milkweed to grow here and no luck. Even though it says they like clay soil.

  21. Know little about milkweed except the roots are really thick.
    Been in the garden all week and haven't seen any caterpillars.

  22. Hi Sue,
    I had no chance to visit your blog for several days due to a water leak in our home and all the repair and remodel work that is involved with such a "nice" surprise.
    Now I'm back and all I can say is Gosh, your front yard looks awesome! You guys have really worked hard. I'm amazed by how many milk weeds you have planted.
    Best Regards
    Paula Jo


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