National Plant a Flower Day – Got Milkweed?

CAPE MAY, NJ – It’s National Plant a Flower Day and I have a suggestion: plant milkweed.

Whoever cooked up the National Plant a Flower Day had an impeccable sense of timing. March 12th finds many obsessed gardeners (as well as most normal folk) wrung out by the winter.

Cold? Blah. Ice and Snow? Double Blah!

All we want right now is to get back into our gardens. Soon.

Nothing better than National Plant a Flower day to get started sowing some seed indoors or pulling out those garden catalogs.

If you’re looking for something new to plant this year,  why not try a little milkweed.

Monarchs adore it all summer long.  Migrating Monarchs in Cape May make a stop at the milkweed for one last meal in early fall before they head over the Delaware Bay, on their way to Mexico.

It’s not just an easy source of nectar for the adults. Milkweed leaves are also the preferred food for Monarch caterpillars.

Tropical Milkweed is an annual with orange flowers. Regular perennial milkweed, native to prairies and meadows, can be bought at places specializing in native plants.  Both die back in the winter in Cape May.  (Note – for those in the south with long growing seasons, check with your local butterfly experts before planting tropical milkweed.)

Garden Partner has some tiny milkweed seedlings just coming up under the grow lights. Within a few months, those plants will be feeding butterflies in our backyard. What a pleasant thought in mid March.

About Jane Kashlak

Jane Kashlak - a journalist, gardener and Cape Island resident - is writing a book.