The plight of the monarchs is well known: They depend on milkweed in order to reproduce. Without milkweed, the butterfly will become extinct, but milkweed has been plowed under and replaced with lawns and pavement. When I started my gigantic garden, I wanted to ensure that I included native plants to attract pollinators and to support biodiversity in an area that has lost so much of it.
I planted some milkweed last year, mostly from seed, and this year we’re seeing the fruits of that particularly effortless labor. Unlike many other native plants, milkweed is very easy to grow from seed. I barely even scattered some, and they’ve flourished where I planted. I expect to have a few more next year too, judging from the copious seeds each plant produced.
We’ve seen monarchs in the garden before, on many an occasion. They and other butterflies particularly like the zinnia, which are both gorgeous and excellent providers of nectar. We even had a few monarch caterpillars do their chrysalis thing on a side of a garden bed last year.
Now, though, we’re seeing what I can only describe as monarch milkweed madness. I stopped counting after finding 20 monarch caterpillars chowing down on my milkweed plants. I’ve never been so happy to have my garden plants being devoured. Many of them are huge and nearing the chrysalis stage, and one of them decided to begin that phase this morning. We found the caterpillar upside down in a j-shape on our stakes for the tomatoes.
We can’t wait to see where the other 20-plus end up. In the meantime, I’m sure the milkweed will continue to send out more seeds and feed more caterpillars. Perfect.