And the monarchs came!
Last fall at our WI cabin, I scattered milkweed seeds from native milkweed that had sparsely grown in what I call the “loop” in the center of the circular driveway. It’s a native area anchored by three Hop Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana) trees.
There’s lots of advice on how to collect milkweed seeds from the pods on the internet, but I took the simple route of waiting until late in the fall when the pods were starting to open up on their own, and then pulled out the seeds. While still attached to the sticky silk, I just floated the seeds around the loop garden and around the edges of the woods. It was a fun afternoon project even without young kids to help!
By spreading the seeds in the fall, I didn’t need to worry about artificial seed stratification, the process of simulating the cold winter and warm, wet spring, that you need to go through to get milkweed seeds to germinate efficiently. Then I waited to see what would come up, and where, since the downside of my method was the wind blowing things in unexpected directions.
I was happy to see this spring that the number of milkweed had really multiplied all over the loop and the edges of the driveway and forest. Then this past weekend I found them! Two big, fat healthy monarch caterpillars munching away.
I can’t remember the last time I saw big monarch caterpillars like these. I’m hoping when we’re there next time, I’ll find monarch chrysalis. But they can be tricky to find since they will attach to almost any hard surface in the area, not necessarily near the milkweed.
What else is enjoying my milkweed? The bees of course.
Hummingbirds will also enjoy milkweed occasionally, but mine tend to prefer my feeder by far.
As a hummingbird bonus, I recently added a little window feeder and they love it! This day a female came to visit. The male is a little more camera shy.
Need help making hummingbird nectar? See my previous post on an easy how-to.