Partnering to conserve the monarch butterfly migration

Question and Answer

What is the most appropriate time to cut tropical milkweed back?

It is recommended to prune the milkweed stalks to about 6 inches in height during the fall and winter months to discourage monarchs from establishing winter-breeding colonies. Cutting back the milkweed will also help to eliminate OE spores that may be present on the plant. Re-cut the milkweed every few weeks as leaves re-sprout. Tropical milkweed might pose fewer problems in the northern monarch breeding range because it dies back naturally when it freezes.

These recommendations are not applicable in south Florida (south of Orlando), where a distinctive, non-migratory population of monarchs has long been established. However, native milkweed planting is still encouraged in this area.

For more information on tropical milkweed, read the our handout on the topic.

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