Milkweed Newbie

February 9, 2018

By: Barb Holtz

Recently invited to present at the program at the Medina library, I prepared by renovating a PowerPoint presentation and creating a lovely handout for the taking. Native plant presenters are much like ministers in that the core message is the same at each "preaching", it's just packaged differently to fit the occasion and audience. The talk went great, the crowd was great, the venue was great. And what I learned from the experience was a clear reminder that the message should never become tired or mundane.

When asked for examples of natives I love, I extoled my favorites: Ohio Spiderwort, the many overlooked Goldenrods, Grey-Headed Coneflower and Milkweed. Milkweed is a must in every yard, spouted off as if EVERYONE knows that. Heads nodded "yes" in an "AMEN!" fashion. Spotting a raised hand, I inquired. A woman asked, "Why should everyone have Milkweed?" Could have knocked me over with a feather.

When I speak to crowds big and small, seasoned or young, I always learn something. It's one joy of being an educator. Not only do we enjoy teaching, we enjoy discovery. This eureka moment reminded me that the most basic message bears repeating with clarity, enthusiam and conviction:

Milkweed matters to Monarch Butterflies because it is essential to their survival. Monarch Butterflies are specialists. Their caterpillars will not pupae or form into adults without Milkweed sap as food. Monarchs are important pollinators and embark on an ancient journey each autumn and spring, traveling literally great lengths for continued individual and species life. Because suburban yards and cities blanket our landscape, many natural areas have disappeared along with their native plant citizens. Our Milkweed infused yards can be that oasis for a weary, egg-laying Monarch Mom.

So thank you native newbies for reminding this native plant oldie that back to basics is good and grounding. Hallelujah!

Now is the perfect time to sow your Milkweed seeds. Shop our Milkweed Madness Packet or pick your favorite individual species, Common, Swamp or Butterfly Milkweed. Questions about planting? We've got you covered here!