POINT PLEASANT — The monarch butterfly is West Virginia’s state butterfly and the population numbers of the monarchs are declining.
Mason County Resident Joyce L. Gardner-Lee explained planting milkweed is a significant way to help increase the population of monarchs.
According to the “plant milkweed” website, milkweed is an essential plant for the life of a monarch butterfly. The plant provides not only a home, but food for the monarch caterpillars. One reason there is a low number of monarchs is because of the low number of milkweed plants due to the shifting of land management.
The milkweed is a colorful plant and can bring an extra zest to a garden by bringing not only monarch butterflies to the garden, but a host of other pollinators.
To plant milkweed one must first sow milkweed seeds by scattering them on the soil surface one fourth to one half inch apart and then cover with approximately one fourth inch of additional soil.
Water the milkweed frequently after planting until the plants become established.
Many milkweed species need to be vernalized, cold treated, before planting. Vernalized seeds can be planted in the spring, after the danger of frost has passed. Non-vernalized seeds can be planted in the fall and nature will provide the cold treatment.
The milkweed plugs can be placed directly into the ground.
First, dig a small hole to fit the roots and soil of the potted milkweed plug/plant, then place the plant plug into the hole so that the roots are entirely covered and the stem and leaves of the plant are above ground. Next, spread the remaining soil from the hole around the plant and gently pack it down.
Water the milkweed frequently after planting until the plant becomes established.
The plugs of the milkweed can be planted in either the spring or summer.
According to the “state symbols USA” website, in 1995, West Virginia designated the monarch butterfly as the state’s official butterfly and Lee commented Sept. 12 is declared as “Monarch Butterfly Day.“
Information from www.plantmilkweed.org was used in this article.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.