Our new 'Plant Index' page lists all the plants we will be offering for the 2014 shipping season.
|During the shipping season (May thru October), our Facebook fans will receive notification of special promotions being offered on our web site. They will also be periodically posted on which plants are especially nice at that particular time (making these plants a better buy at that particular time).|
Milkweed plants (Asclepias) are the
host plants for Monarch butterflies...but milkweed is also a highly sought nectar
source for many other butterfly species! Aside from attracting Monarch
butterflies for egg-laying, milkweed entices swallowtails, painted ladies,
American ladies, red admirals, fritillaries, and hairstreaks for nectaring.
We ship milkweed plants from
May through October.
Plants from May through October:
Most of our Milkweed Plants are shipped in 3" pots or nursery liners.
We ship USPS Priority Mail.
Milkweed (also known as Bloodflower and/or
A South American native, Tropical Milkweed grows 30"-36" high and produces clusters of bright yellow or yellow-orange bi-colored flowers (sorry, no choice of flower color). Highly utilized by Monarch butterflies for egg-laying. Used as a nectar source by many other butterfly species and also by hummingbirds. Plant in full sun and treat as an annual. Save the seeds this fall and start them yourself next year (this milkweed is easy to grow from seed). Shipped in 3" pots. Deer resistant.
8 plants for $20.00 Temporarily Sold Out. May be more the week of Aug. 18. Check back then.
Swamp Milkweed, pink flowering
Clusters of small pink flowers on plants which grow 36"-42" high. Swamp Milkweed is a U.S. native that usually grows in moist areas (but it does not require a moist location in the garden). Usually blooming June thru July, this plant serves as a nectar source for several butterfly species and as a host plant for Monarchs. ADeer resistant.
Perennial, zones 3-8. $4.50 each
Milkweed, white flowering
(Asclepias incarnata 'Ice Ballet')
Clusters of small white flowers on plants which grow 32"-40" high. Usually blooms late June through July. 'Ice Ballet' Swamp Milkweed is a choice nectar plant for numerous butterfly species (including the red admiral shown here). It is also a top choice for monarch egg-laying!
Perennial, zones 3-8. $4.50 each
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Clusters of bright orange flowers adorn this plant from late June through July. Usually growing 18"-24" high, Butterfly Weed attracts numerous butterfly species for nectaring and it is sometimes utilized as a host plant for Monarch butterflies. Known also as Pleurisy Root, Butterfly Weed must be planted in a soil that provides excellent drainage, especially in winter. A US native. Deer resistant.
Perennial, zones 3-8. $6.00 each Sorry, Sold Out for 2014.
A native to much of the eastern USA, Common Milkweed generally grows to about 48" high and blooms late June through July. Our plants are small this year but they should reach mature size next summer. Common Milkweed is utilized as a nectar source by hummingbirds and also by many butterfly species. Also used as a host plant by Monarch butterflies. Shipped in 3" pots. Deer resistant.
Should be ready for shipping between mid and late June. Please check back then.
Perennial, zones 3-9. $4.50 each
Growing 30"-40" high, Showy Milkweed is native to the western half of the U.S. It produces purple-pink flowers and blooms June thru July. Showy Milkweed is great for the pollinator garden, attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, honey bees, and other beneficial insects. It is also a host for Monarch larvae (caterpillars).
Deer resistant. Drought tolerant.
Perennial, zones 3-9. $4.50 each
Our Showy Milkweed should be ready for shipping by late July. Please check back then.
driving distance of central Pennsylvania?
Milkweed is essential for the
existence of Monarch butterflies.
A Monarch butterfly is pictured at the top of this page. Adult Monarchs (and many other butterfly species) love nectar-rich milkweed as a food source, but there is a more important reason for the Monarch's close attachment to milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant material that Monarch caterpillars can eat. Remove Monarch caterpillars from milkweed and they will starve; or they will eat other plant material, sicken, and then die. The scientific name for milkweed is Asclepias (pronounced as-KLEE-pea-us). Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) is well known to most northeasterners. It grows along roadsides, in fields, and in open meadows. Producing sweet smelling mauve-pink flowers late June through July, common milkweed usually matures at about 48" high. Some northeasterners assume common milkweed to be the only milkweed species which exists. Actually, over 100 species of Asclepias grow in the USA, with over 200 different species growing worldwide.
Common milkweed is not the only Asclepias species which can be utilized as a food source for the monarch caterpillar. In reality, any Asclepias serves the purpose, although some species lure more egg-laying female monarchs than others.
Among the Asclepias species highly utilized by female monarchs for egg-laying are Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed, an annual), Hairy Balls Milkweed (Asclepias physocarpa, an annual), and Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed, an perennial). Both are now offered on this page.
And if you would like to see
pictures (arranged sequentially) that show the life stages of a monarch
butterfly, check out our article on
|Data for 1994-2003 collected
by personnel of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve (MBBR) of the
National Commission of Natural Protected Areas in Mexico. Data for
2003-2013 collected by World Wildlife Fund Mexico in coordination with the
Dicectorate of the MBBR.
|Above, a Monarch butterfly nectars on Butterfly Bush.|
Franklin, late February, 2014
the winter of 1993-1994, scientists have been traveling to Michoacan,
Mexico, every winter to monitor the size of the area that is occupied by
over-wintering Monarch butterflies. This information is used to provide
data on the status of the butterfly population, and might even be an
indicator of the status of pollinator insects in general.
the past two years, the Monarch population has plummeted to alarmingly low
numbers. There is reason for concern.
What has caused the Monarch
population to decline? The consensus among scientists is that there may
many factors at play. Among these might be (1) the destruction of natural
habitat, (2) the increased use of insecticides, (3) the increased use of
herbicides, and (4) climate change.
Approximately 6,000 acres per
day, 2.2 million acres per year, of farmland and natural habitat is being
converted to housing developments, resorts, shopping centers, gulf
courses, and highways. Natural prairies and grasslands are being plowed
under to grow more corn and soybeans, two agricultural crops that have
skyrocketed in price over the last decade or so.
Almost all of the corn and
soybeans being planted today are herbicide-resistant varieties. Farmers
can plant the seed without having to till the soil, and then spray the
fields with herbicides to control the weeds. The herbicides kill the weeds
(including milkweed, which Monarchs must have to lay their eggs on) but do
not harm the corn and soybean plants. No one knows how many milkweed
plants have been killed by the application of herbicides, but likely,
millions have been poisoned in the past 10 years or so.
The widespread use of
insecticides to control mosquito and gypsy moth populations might likely
be contributing to the disappearance of butterflies too.
Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is often aerial-sprayed over forests,
wetlands, and near housing developments to kill the insect pests that must
be kept under control. But Bt is a notorious caterpillar killer! And while
butterflies were not the intended target of the spraying, I am pretty sure
that millions of butterfly larvae have been wiped out by Bt.
Climate change is another
factor that scientists often note as having an impact on the butterfly
population. The average temperature is increasing, droughts are becoming
more common, and storms are growing stronger. Along with these weather
events causing stress for humans, they are hard on the butterfly
Are insecticides killing the
butterflies? Are herbicides poisoning the milkweeds that Monarchs must
have in order for reproduction to occur? Are warmer summers, heavy rains,
violent wind storms, and/or droughts taking their toll? No one knows for
sure which of these factors has had the most devastating consequences for
the Monarch population, but one or more of these is assuredly causing the
Monarch populace to plummet.
The honey bee population
appears to be in serious trouble too. I wonder if itís not the same
variables causing both the Monarch and honey bee populations to sharply
drop in number. And if, by chance, that is
the case, weíd better wake up. Without pollinators, the human race could
not exist. We need these insects to pollinate our food crops.
On Behalf of the Butterflies by Rose Franklin, April, 2013
Over the last decade or so there has been a lot of effort put forth
to help the Monarch butterfly in its struggle to survive. Milkweed, the
host for Monarch caterpillars, has been destroyed as fields and meadows
have been converted to housing developments, shopping centers, golf
courses, and resorts. In the remaining farm fields where milkweed still
flourished, Roundup-ready corn seed is now being planted. Roundup-ready
corn seed, first introduced in 1996, will produce plants which thrive even
after numerous applications of Roundup, a very powerful herbicide. The
corn survives to produce its crop, but everything else in the field is
killed. As a result of persistent applications with Roundup, milkweed
could be forever destroyed in these fields. And without Milkweed, the
Monarch population cannot survive.
And itís not just in
the U.S. that the Monarch faces obstacles to its survival. The oyamel fir
forests of central Mexico, where billions upon billions of Monarchs
overwinter, are being ruined at an alarming rate through illegal
lumbering. Entomologists fear that if the oyamel forests disappear, so too
will the Monarch butterfly.
There are a lot of
organizations teaching people about the obstacles facing the Monarch.
Among the best known are Monarch Watch, Monarch Butterfly Fund, Monarch
Lab, and Monarch Joint Adventure. A new IMAX film, ďFlight of the
ButterfliesĒ, explains in vivid 3D the magical story of the Monarch
butterfly migration. Itís no wonder millions of people know about of the
dilemma facing the Monarch.
But who knows that
other butterfly species are facing the same hardships that the Monarch is?
Very few. In reality, other butterflies are dwindling in number too, some
just as fast, or even faster, than the Monarch. Why? Because the plants
they need for their survival are being destroyed at a rapid pace too. In
those same fields and meadows where milkweed used to grow, there were
other native plants which other butterflies utilize as host plants.
Queen Anneís Lace,
also known as wild carrot, is the host plant for Black Swallowtail
caterpillars. Aster is the host for Pearl Crescent caterpillars while wild
violet is the host for Great-Spangled Fritillaries, Aphrodite
Fritillaries, and Meadow Fritillaries. Plantain is a host for Buckeye
caterpillars and thistle is a host for Painted Ladies. All of these
plants, too, used to be much more plentiful than they are today.
Once wild flower
meadows are converted to housing developments, golf courses, and resorts,
the newly planted turf is regularly sprayed with herbicides to kill off
everything but the grass. In the course of tidying the turf though,
butterfly host plants are being destroyed. And as is the case with the
Monarch and milkweed, other butterflies cannot survive without their host
Many butterflies lay
their eggs on the leaves of trees because it is the foliage of these trees
that their caterpillars feed on through their larval stage. Tiger
Swallowtails and Red-Spotted Purples often use black cherry as a host,
while Giant Swallowtails often utilize prickly ash. Mourning Cloaks and
Viceroys lay their eggs on willow, while Commas and Question Marks often
lay their eggs on hackberry or elm. Most of these native trees grow in
wooded areas or in mountainous regions where insecticides have been aerial
sprayed many, many times in the past 30 years or so to control the gypsy
moth population. But the same insecticides that kill gypsy moth
caterpillars also kill butterfly caterpillars. Insecticides cannot
distinguish between the two caterpillars and selectively kill just the
gypsy moths. How many butterfly larvae have fallen victim to this assault?
I do not know. Butterflies were not the intended targets of the aerial
spraying but they have certainly suffered the consequences, likely being
killed off by the millions.
organization has stepped up to campaign for the survival of butterfly
species other than the Monarch? I have seen very little in the news about
the struggle of the Tiger Swallowtail, the Giant Swallowtail, the Red
Admiral, or any other butterfly aside from the Monarch.
Swallowtails, Giant Swallowtails, or Zebra Swallowtails any less beautiful
than Monarchs? No, they are not. All of the Swallowtails are gorgeous,
maybe even more beautiful than the Monarch. So why is it the case that
everyone is focusing the Monarch? It just doesnít seem fair to me.
Itís not that I
think there should be less people devoted to educating others about the
struggle of the Monarch. It is that, since most butterfly species are
struggling to survive in a world that has turned hostile toward them,
people should be concerned about the other butterfly species also. Why
campaign to save just the Monarch when other butterflies are in dire need
of help too?
I think it is wonderful that Monarch Watch and similar
organizations have studied the biology of the Monarch, monitored their
population status, and educated the public on the turmoil facing this
majestic butterfly. But I think it is time we begin to help the other
butterfly species that, in reality, are quickly dwindling in number too.
Letís do as Monarch
Watch suggests, and plant milkweed for the Monarchs. But letís also
plant dill, parsley, and fennel for Black Swallowtail caterpillars to
feast on. Letís plant rue, as this plant serves as a host for both Black
Swallowtail and Giant Swallowtail larvae. Letís plant some native trees,
like black cherry, birch, hackberry, pawpaw, and elm, all of which are
utilized as butterfly hosts. And letís plant some vines that are
utilized as host plants: hops for Question Marks and Commas, Dutchmanís
Pipe for the Pipevine Swallowtail, and Passion Vine for the Gulf
Two ways to order: (1) Utilize our on-line shopping cart or (2) print our online order form, fill it
out, and then mail it to us, along with your check or money order. Some of the features of our online
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If you have problems using our shopping cart, please print our order form,
fill it out, and then mail it to us. Sorry for the inconvenience.
We do not accept phone orders.
Quantities are limited on some of our nursery stock. Plants will be reserved to fill orders in the sequence in which orders are received. Please order at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment. Please do not order plants which are not currently posted with a picture, plant description, and price.
(814) 422-8968 Email: RoseFranklin@aol.com
Copyright © 2002-2014. [Rose Franklin's Perennials]. All rights
Revised: July 24, 2014