December 2nd Nature Walk: Planting Milkweed


A small but dedicated group gathered on December 2nd, 2017, and put 16 stakes into the ground, each with a sign announcing a site where milkweed will be planted.

Not only is milkweed a lovely plant with fascinating pods of perfectly folded “parachute” seeds, but it also is essential in the lives of the monarch butterfly, a species in decline.

The monarch is the remarkable species that migrates back to a SINGLE hillside in Mexico annually in vast numbers. The spot is actually protected to keep the migration viable.

But throughout North America, monarchs are in serious decline. The reasons are varied, perhaps having to do with widespread use of pesticide and more intense use of herbicide in farm areas.

What we can do is to encourage this plant to grow and spread at Mary Cummings Park, which can be pesticide-free stopover for migrating butterlies, looking to lay eggs.

Here’s what we will did:

  1. Took already-gathered and donated milkweed pods and isolated the seeds.
  2. Took the seeds to likely areas in the park that currently do not have milkweed growing.
  3. Placed signs on stakes in the ground in 16 locations around the park.
  4. Cleared the ground in front of the sign posts.
  5. Poked holes in the ground for the seeds.
  6. Planted one seed in each hole.
  7. Closed the hole in to protect the seed.
  8. Mark each planted with a tiny twig to keep track.
  9. Covered the planted area with grass and straw.
  10. Spread a few seeds on the top, in case milkweed likes to dig its own way into the earth.

Hopefully, we can come back in future summer walks and look for monarch butterflies and their caterpillars.