Today’s NY Times Sunday Review section carried an eye-opening article about the migration of monarch butterflies–or rather, the fact that the migration has almost collapsed. See also this previous post about the details of the migration to understand why it really is a problem if pesticides and genetically modified crops result in the disappearance of milkweed.
Add milkweed to the list of plants you plan to order next spring. The picture above shows a closeup of the flowers of orange butterflyweed, Asclepias tuberosa. It’s a drought-tolerant species that needs full sun, grows 2-3 feet tall, and blooms in June and July. And, of course, attracts butterflies by the score. Another lovely and easy-to-grow species is swamp or red milkweed, Asclepias incarnata. It likes moist soil (although it does just fine in my dry, sandy soil) and full sun, grows up to 4 feet tall, and produces lovely pink flowers, also in early summer. Pink or orange–take your pick.