Ontario was home to 7 different types of milkweed. This diversity of milkweed was hugely important to the monarch since these milkweeds covered all types of terrain and habitat making it a very widespread and available plant to the breeding monarch. Unfortunately, over time many of these milkweeds have been lost and the horticultural industry only sells 3 types. Namely, swamp, upland and butterfly. We are determined to eventually to be able to offer all the types of milkweed that should know Ontario as its home. Diversity of planting is the key to the monarch recovery program.
SWAMP MILKWEED (Asclepias incarnata)
This is one larval host plant for our beloved Monarch butterfly. It is estimated that we must plant 1 billion plants in order to save the Monarch. Though all milkweed is caterpillar food, the swamp milkweed is the preferred source, according to the experts.
This is also a species of milkweed. It is the host larval plant for the Monarch and Queen butterflies. Butterfly weed derived its name because various butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are attracted to its color and nectar. The plant will reach heights of 1 – 2 feet and spread 1 – 1.5 feet. Blooming a vivid orange in July and August, it is of special value to native bees and recognized by pollination ecologists for attracting large numbers of native bees. It grows in well drained soils and tolerates drought.
WHORLED MILKWEED (Asclepias verticillata)
A narrow leaved milkweed ignored by gardeners but a valuable larval source for the Monarch butterfly. This milkweed blooms a soft greenish white colour from July to September which is later in the year than most milkweeds. A pioneer plant that thrives on open disturbed areas tolerating drought and dry soils. Thrives in full sun to partial shade conditions. It attains heights of 1 – 2.5 feet and widths of 1 – 2 feet.
This milkweed attracts many insects including butterflies and hummingbirds.
OTHER LARVAL PLANTS
WILD TURTLEHEAD (Chelone glabra)
Wild turtlehead derives its name from its distinctive white flowers which resembles a turtlehead. In the wild, it thrives in wet meadows and floodplains and attains heights of 2 – 3 feet and spreading 1 – 3 feet. It is a lovely addition to any rain garden where it tolerates erosion and grows well in moist to wet soils in full sun to part shade. During blooming, from August to October, bumblebees find this plant irresistible.
This is also the larval plant for the native Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.
PEARLY EVERLASTING (Anaphalis margaritacea)
This is a very tough plant growing wild on road sides, disturbed sites, dry and sandy or gravelly slopes. It is drought tolerant and tolerates poor nutrient deficient soils. Part of the aster family, it blooms a compact white flower from July to August. This plant grows 1 – 3 feet tall and spreads 1 – 2 feet wide. It requires full sun to part shade.
This is the larval plant host to the American Painted Lady butterfly, skippers and moths.