Limited milkweed plant and seed availability is often cited by monarch enthusiasts and restoration practitioners as a barrier to creating habitat for monarchs. This is especially true when seeking native plants that are not horticultural cultivars, and are derived from locally-sourced seeds. Such plants and seeds are essential for large-scale restoration efforts, and preferred by many conservation-minded gardeners. Monarch Watch is taking a novel approach to building the commercial availability of regionally-sourced milkweed plants, while concurrently creating a demand for these plants so that native plant suppliers are motivated to support this effort long term. Monarch Watch staff are collecting, processing, storing, and shipping milkweed seeds and plants, recruiting milkweed buyers, coordinating production and sales of milkweed, and producing and distributing promotional materials. If you would like to gather and send milkweed seeds, organize a plant sale, or otherwise get involved you can find more information about this work at www.bringbackthemonarchs.org.
Buying locally-sourced native milkweed can be a daunting task. Monarch Watch has compiled information on species of milkweed sold and seed sources on the Bring Back the Monarchs website so that gardeners looking for milkweed can find a local commercial source. This information was collected from online inventories and conversations with nursery managers. A Milkweed Market reference guide aids in the distribution of milkweed. Monarch Watch staff are also fielding questions and providing information to land managers to match individual habitat restoration projects with the best possible milkweed seed source.
In spring 2013, Monarch Watch was successful in the propagation of 25,000 milkweed plugs, and distributed nearly 20,000 of those to locations across the U.S. They are planning for distribution of 50,000 milkweed plugs in spring 2014.