Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Thursday - November 17, 2005

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Butterfly Gardens
Title: Locating milkweed to feed larvae of Monarch butterfly
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Samantha Elkinton

QUESTION:

A monarch butterfly on her way south, stopped and laid her eggs on a tropical milkweed. The larvae have hatched and now I want to insure their survival, but I only had 1 plant which they have stripped. Do you know where I might find milkweed (any variety) either in the wild or for purchase in the Austin area?

ANSWER:

Our butterfly gardener says that there are two types of Monarchs in Texas. One is the well-known migrating butterfly, which lays eggs along the migration path south in the fall and usually does not survive the entire trip. The offspring, however, will continue to move south once they have reached the butterfly stage. Texas also has a nonmigratory population of Monarchs that can breed year-round.

You might be able to find some members of the Family Asclepidaceae (Milkweed family) with foliage still present. You probably can still find Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) along stream banks or other wet areas. Also, one of the Matelea spp. should still be around. I saw Pearl Milkweed Vine (Matelea reticulata) growing in my neighbor's yard today. The Scarlet, or Tropical Milkweed ) Asclepias curassavica, native to South America, is a popular nursery plant and is evergreen. It is likely that you could find it or some other milkweed plant for sale at an Austin nursery. You can visit the National Suppliers Directory on our web page to find nurseries in Austin that specialize in native plants.

If you can get your larvae fed and into the pupal stage (which lasts only about one week), the adults that emerge should survive to produce more monarchs.
 

More Butterfly Gardens Questions

Is Tropical Milkweed Harmful to Monarchs?
April 24, 2015 - I believe I recently read that the orange flowering Mexican milkweed carries a virus(?) or something that harms monarch butterflies. What are recommendations if I use this plant in my northern CA yar...
view the full question and answer

Butterflies attracted by Pink Evening Primrose from Burnet TX
July 30, 2012 - I see information on Pink Evening Primrose that says it attracts 'many butterflies' Please tell me which butterflies and name them? I've looked everywhere and am just exhausted and frustrated with...
view the full question and answer

Butterfly Plants for Chicago
September 13, 2014 - I live near Chicago, IL and am interested in planting a butterfly garden. Not sure when to start, but I want all native plants that would attract butterflies. Can you please let me know which plants ...
view the full question and answer

Fall seeding of Butterfly Weed in Virginia
July 20, 2007 - Just ordered seeds from you - Butterfly Weed - and I plan to hopefully scatter the seeds early Oct. in an area along a tree line here in No. VA where the sun bakes the soil as it is exposed to hot wes...
view the full question and answer

Propagating milkweeds for a monarch butterfly habitat
November 02, 2009 - I am planting a monarch habitat in Burnet, Tx with Antelope horns, Green milkweed, and butterfly weed. Should I plant in fall or spring??? Should I use cold moist stratification for 3 months at 40...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.