This post was written by Monarch Watch. For more information about this program, visit Monarch Watch’s website.
Milkweed for Monarchs: Saving the monarch migration will require the restoration of milkweeds and nectar plants to at least 20 million acres. Monarch Watch is dedicated to this effort and our focus is getting more plants in the ground. The latest tally shows that we distributed over 206,000 milkweed plugs this year through our partner nurseries. Eighty-three percent of these distributions were exclusively for restoration and were made possible through donations from industry, NGOs and private individuals.
How it works: To facilitate milkweed plug production, donated and purchased seed is stratified and propagated by our partner nurseries in Kansas and Oklahoma. Applicants who meet the requirements for free restoration milkweeds are shipped a minimum of 200 plugs (four flats) of ecoregion appropriate milkweeds for planting on restoration sites. Recipients are only responsible for shipping charges. Over 250 organizations and individuals from 12 ecoregions have received and planted milkweed plugs through this program. The restorations sites include private land, businesses, schools, nature centers, zoos, nature trails, rest areas, roadsides, golf courses, and churches, as well as city, county, state, and national parks.
Planning ahead: We were able to distribute so many plugs this year because we started the process last year at this time. Now, we are planning for next year. This process involves lining up funding, working with our partner nurseries, acquiring regionally appropriate seeds and planning production for each ecoregion.
It is planning the number of plugs needed in each region for which we need your help. How much milkweed to produce has been a guessing game in the past, resulting in both over and under production for various regions. We need a better way of determining demand ahead of production, which generally begins with seed stratification in late December and early January.
How you can help: To reduce the amount of guesswork in production planning, we have opened up the application for “Free Milkweeds for Restoration Projects” for the entire eastern half of the U.S. for spring 2017 shipping. Hopefully, making the application available now will generate “pre-orders”, which will help us determine customer interest in milkweed plugs by region.
For the pre-order approach to work, we need to get the message broadly distributed. Please share this message with anyone you know who may be interested in ordering plugs for next year.
To apply to order milkweeds yourself, follow the link to the program that most accurately describes your site and needs:
- Free milkweeds for large scale restoration (2+ acres) on private or public land
- Non-profit organizations and schools are eligible for one free flat of milkweed plugs (shipping is included!)
- Milkweed plugs are also available for purchase for gardens and projects that are less than two acres. Please visit the Milkweed Market for more information.
Thank you for helping get the word out about our 2017 milkweed distribution!
The Monarch Joint Venture is a national partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to conserve the monarch butterfly migration. The content in this article does not necessarily reflect the positions of all Monarch Joint Venture partners. Header photo by Chip Taylor, Monarch Watch.