A message from owner Courtney
Recently at the nursery, a customer of ours came in to return a Tropical Milkweed plant that she had purchased the day before. I could tell that she almost felt bad. The plant was still in good condition, but her reasoning for the return was that she had read an article stating that this species could actually be harmful to the Western Monarch butterfly. This was something that I had never heard before. Shocked, I asked that she please send me the article. That night, I got home, gave our little one, Ruby some kisses, ate dinner, then began to read. (A link below of the article please note this article was written in southern California)
My husband Chris and I have a good friend named Chadwick who happens to be a wildlife biologist. His work includes restoring habitats for many native species, such as the Western Monarch Butterfly. The next time we saw him over dinner, I picked his brain about Milkweed and how some species may be somewhat harmful. Personally, I am still somewhat naive in respects to this situation, but I wanted to share with you what information and knowledge I gained from my friend who is much more well-versed. I will be sure to include more specific links for you to investigate in closing. The following is the info in my layman’s terms: What I gathered from Chadwick is that the more “tropical” species of Milkweed, Asclepiasis currassivica tend to bloom much later than the native species of Milkweed.
This Milkweed has a very showy, bright yellow and red flower, which is why it tends to be the most sold Milkweed at garden centers. The problem is that it can continue to bloom much later into the season, causing the butterflies to stick around too long, which can interfere with their migration instincts. If they are still here when the night time temperatures become colder, they can die. The native species tend to have shorter bloom periods that keep the butterflies moving. He also said that the non-native species sometimes carry harmful parasites that also may harm the butterflies.I immediately panicked! I have these plants in my own garden. He told me that if I wanted to keep them, I should be sure to cut them back to the ground in November. This way, the Monarchs are more likely migrate as they should.Another topic I brought up was that I had read on social media that the Monarch Butterfly population was increasing. He informed me that it was the Eastern Monarch Butterflies, not the Western Monarchs Butterflies that were experiencing an increase in numbers. The Rocky Mountains divide the two populations, and it turns out the Western population has been on a steep decline over the past 20 years. Chico is a big migration corner for these creatures. From here, they typically head to Nevada, Washington and Oregon. Arbutus, Manzanita, Thistle, and especially native Buckwheat are great options for the garden if you want these butterflies to be happy in your own yard. Please remember that when you entice butterflies, you may be fortunate to see the butterfly larvae in your garden as well. Milkweed is the only plant where the adults will lay their precious eggs. This means that your plants may be defoliated, because these hungry caterpillars need to feed. There may be some holes in your garden, but this is a small sacrifice if you ask me! Almost all California Natives would be an enormous help to these Butterflies and so many other species. For the past 10 years, our nursery has been closely located to Floral Native Nursery. Since this wonderful nursery, with so many natives to offer was right up the street, we have kept our native selection on the smaller side. Floral Native Nursery is now in a new location. We strongly recommend checking them out, as native plants are their specialty. They are a great resource for our community. We at Magnolia Gift and Garden have a lot to learn about California Natives, however, we are striving and are offering a greater selection. I felt overwhelmed after learning all of this information. I wondered what could I do to spread the word? What could I do in my own garden that would help? Chris and I feel an immense responsibility to spread the word and share this information with you. Unfortunately, the Western Monarch is not the only creature in our beautiful state in danger. However, we hope that these tips will help many in need. You don’t have to completely wipe out your existing landscape to benefit these beautiful creatures we all care about. Even adding a few native species in amongst your other plants can be a great help!Don’t be overwhelmed like I was. Just do what you can to help and know that every little bit can make a difference! We can learn together. I am still learning and always will be. If it were not for the woman who returned the Tropical Milkweed that we no longer carry, I still may not have known. We are all in this together. I believe caring is the first step.
“I am not young enough to know everything.”Oscar Wilde
I love this quote because it is simple, yet so true.
Want to help?
- Plant regionally native Milkweeds. Plant more than one if you want the monarchs to readily find them. Showy milkweed Asclepias speciosa and Narrowleaf Milkweed A. fascicularis are fairly common and easy. Others that could be tried including A. cordifolia, A. californica, and A. eriocarpa.
- If possible, refrain from spraying pesticides, especially systemics. Even nearby landscaping plants may still be visited by monarchs.
- Avoid weed whacking, herbicide application, or brush clearing in spring and summer, as milkweed that is present may harbor larvae and the disturbance could kill larvae or deprive adults of food.
- Along with regionally native Milkweeds, it is important to plant a variety of flowering forbs, perennials, shrubs, and trees from the California Floristic Province that are known food for adult monarchs. A mix of different species in groups of 2-3 each will help create a long bloom period with plenty of nectar for migrating monarchs. Good choices to include in your garden are: Buckwheats Eriogonum spp., such as California buckwheat E. fasciculatum andsulphur buckwheat E. umbellatum bahiformes, E. umbellatum polyanthum. There are many others, they are also important larval and nectar food sources (they bloom for many months!!!) for several other butterflies. Native Salvias, especially black sage Salvia mellifera Desert Willow- Chilopsis linearisCalifornia buckeye- Aesculus californica which is not poisonous to native pollinators! Important for butterflies. Toyon- Heteromeles arbutifoliaManzanita species- Arctostaphylos spp. Important early bloomers. Ceanothus selections and cultivars are important early bloomers. Rubber Rabbitbrush- Ericameria nauseosa is an important late season bloomer. Sunflower-Helianthus spp.Coyote mint-Monardella villosa. Other native Monardella species also good choices. Coyote bush- Baccharis pilularis. Mulefat- B. salicifolia and Desert Broom- B. sarenthoides are also good choices they are good for late bloomers. Native thistles- Cirsium occidentale
- If you absolutely have to have a nonnative milkweed, cut down by November. This cues in the monarchs to begin migration and will also help reduce parasite load on the plant.
- In closing I look forward to learning and researching more and appreciate any knowledge you may have to share with me concerning this topic. Lastly I want to share this quote (I am a lover of quotes) With much gratitude, Courtney of Magnolia Gift and Garden
“How can we proceed with such pure disregard for the ones who will come after-not just our own heirs, but all of life? How do we fail to realize we are a point in a grand procession, with equal responsibilities to past and future?”Barbara Kingsolver
Here are some helpful links for more info:
- Xerces Society
- Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation
- Cultivating Place EPISODE Monarchs & Milkweeds, Dr. Anurag Agrawal
- Original article that was forwarded to me from customer HERE
We have a great selection of water plants and also have free Mosquito fish. Be sure to bring your own container in for mosquito fish.
Holly is our newest team member. She was born and raised in Chico. She has her Associates Degree from Butte College in Environmental Horticulture and Agriculture and Natural resources as well as a Bachelor’s degree from Chico State in Agriculture. In her spare time she enjoys gold panning, fishing and most anything that gets her outdoors. She is especially interested in plants that attract and benefit pollinators.
Daniel is also new to Magnolia Gift and Garden. He was raised in Paradise, Ca. and is now living in Chico. In his spare time he enjoys being outdoors, hiking, riding his bike and cooking healthy food. He also works part time at 9round fitness as a champion trainer.
“Native plants often support 10 to 50 times as many species of native wildlife as nonnative plants.”CNPS
July TO DOS:
- Pinch back your summer herbs such as Basil and Thyme to keep them from flowering and reseeding -Be careful when turning your hose on to water not to burn your plants with the hot water that has sat in the sun-Water your garden in the morning to reduce chances of fungal problems
- It’s Crunch Time! It’s not unusual this time of year for the leaves on some of your plants to be dry and crunchy. Typically because of a missed watering or dry, hot winds. To help encourage re emergence of new foliage, run your hand along the branches and remove dry foliage
- Are your garden tomatoes splitting? This is usually a sign of inconsistent watering. A period of drought or over watering can cause this to happen. Practicing more consistent watering should remedy the problem. Most minor cracking is harmless and the fruit still tastes great!
- Prune and deadhead Crape Myrtle, Salvia, and Butterfly Bush to encourage repeat blooming Peaches is our nursery cat. She has picked up lots of knowledge while lounging around the nursery
Peaches is our nursery cat. She has picked up lots of knowledge while lounging around the nursery.
This month we are featuring Joanna’s garden She purchased two of our cream colored garden spheres and she says, “I love how the shiny, creamy color is a soft contrast to the greenery and ties in to the river stone patio. It’s such a welcoming feeling.
Hardscape is such an important part of a beautiful landscape. It’s something you have for a long time and can even take to your next home.”
We couldn’t agree more! Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden pictures with us!
Want to show off your garden? Please email me your pictures so we can add it to next months newsletter. Even if you have sent in pictures before send more! Every garden evolves and we would love to include it in our newsletter.
Email me at Courtney@MagnoliaGardening.com Please include your name and a little info about your garden