Plant Milkweed for Monarchs

Monarch on milkweed flower.
Conservancy Stories
Kay MacNeil
Illinois Gardeners Club

Monarch butterflies are declining in number.

According to the University of Minnesota’s Monarch Joint Venture, the monarch migration was listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as an endangered phenomenon in 1983. In 2010, the World Wildlife Fund included monarchs on its list of the “Top 10 to Watch,” which includes species that are thought to be in need of close monitoring and protection.

What can you do to help? Plant milkweed.

We can all help by planting milkweed in sunny gardens, fields, and roadsides. Milkweed is the only plant on which monarchs will lay their eggs, and there are twelve different kinds that will grow in the Midwest.

How to order seeds*:

Seeds are available from Milkweed to Monarchs, a project of the Illinois Gardeners Club.

  • For samples of three kinds of milkweed (varieties vary based on availability) and lots of literature, send $2 cash and a self-addressed business-size envelope to: Milkweed for Monarchs Chairman, Kay MacNeil, 689 Golf Club Lane, Frankfort, IL 60423
  • To receive 100 pretty packets of swamp milkweed seed (noninvasive ascelpias incarnata) and copies of milkweed literature, send a check for $30 (includes $5 for shipping) made out to Kay McNeil to: Milkweed for Monarchs Chairman, Kay MacNeil, 689 Golf Club Lane, Frankfort, IL 60423
  • For a drop box that will hold milkweed packets (above) and has a donation slit, send Kay a check for $7- $5 postage.
  • For big acreage projects: To receive bulk common (ascelpias syriaca) milkweed in pods, call Kay McNeil at (815) 469-1294. Describe your big acreage project and promise not to mow until October, and Kay will send you free milkweed seed pods. She asks only that you reimburse her with a check for the metered postage on top of the box.

After your first year of growing milkweed, you can harvest the pods to dry and use for seed the next year. Be sure and give some to friends, too!

*Please avoid pesticide treated “butterfly mix” seeds available at some big box stores, as they can actually poison monarchs.