With our gardening minds winding town like the dwindling summer grown remains of our gardens, we look forward to hunkering down with seed catalogs, fixing leaky patio roofs, and that time of the year: stuffing Monarch Mail envelopes.
What is Monarch Mail?Monarch Mail is what started our whole campaign. When faced with the dilemma of absence/complete loss of Monarch caterpillar food and habit, what is the most effective way to bring the native milkweed back to the Pacific NorthWest?
Disperse seeds and plants for free or for cheap.
We've found that many local nurseries and seed companies sell milkweed seed or plants for fairly cost prohibitive prices. Sometimes the seed was clearly harvested too soon and had poor germination rates. By distributing seed for nearly free, we hope that when people's plants mature in the future, they will 'share the seed forward' to friends and family or back to us to re-distribute. We have reached a point where we have funding to purchase soil and pots for plants. All proceeds go towards more materials and resources to grow our campaign.
It is that time of year for Monarch Mail!
Late Fall is a good time to plant native milkweed seed. When properly planted (not surface scattered), the seeds go through the natural stratification process they experience in the wild. After experiencing the cold and wet of our winter, the seeds send down deep taproots and emerge with the warm and sunnier weather. The only downside to this method however is the risk of a late frost and pests- we have heard reports of frosts killing tender seedlings. One suggestion is to plant the seeds in flats, or with the ability to cover them so they can be protected during those frosts once the little green leaves emerge. Another method is to stratify them in the fridge on a moist (not wet!) paper towel in a plastic bag for a few weeks. Once removed, the warmth of the room is enough to get them to sprout. This can be done safely after the danger of frost, but the seedlings might be a little bit behind those naturally grown and slightly more tender.
Get your envelopes in, for your free seeds.
Getting free seeds will cost two stamps - one on an envelope addressed back to yourself, and one on the envelope you mail to us with the first envelope inside (aka SASE 'Self Addressed Stamped Envelope'). Please mail your SASE to:
PO Box 2304
Hillsboro, OR 97123
For those of you without access to post offices or mailing materials:
Due to the generosity of some folks donating stamps, we can send out a limited number of envelopes directly to you. Don't hesitate to ask if you fall in this category. We are happy to get seeds out to those willing to plant.
Plant seeds we are offering at this time:
Asclepias speciosa aka 'Showy Milkweed'
It is the predominant native to much of the Pacific North West area (predominant in areas where they still exist anyway). They can get up to 3-4 feet tall, and have lovely silver green fleshy leaves. Takes two-three years to mature/bloom size. Drought tolerant once established.
Asclepias fascicularis - aka 'Narrowleaf Milkweed'
Another PNW native, it can tolerate arid conditions a bit better than speciosa. In addition, since it is a smaller plant and fairly fast growing under the right conditions, it may bloom at the end of the first year, definitely in its second.
|Asclepias fascicularis (Narrowleaf Milkweed)|
Asclepias incarnata - aka Rose or Swamp Milkweed
We consider this plant an 'ornamental' as it is not native, but ideal for those with wetter growing conditions, and for those who want a plant that does not send out rhizomes/runners. It grows in a tidy but large shrub-like clump and has beautiful deep pink flowers. It can tolerate partial shade (will be leggier in these conditions).
|Asclepias incarnata (Rose Milkweed)|
Asclepias tuberosa - aka Butterfly Weed
This is a classic east coast native, and thus an ornamental out here. It has a compact and tidy growing habit with bright orange flowers - a good alternative to the Mexican/tropical milkweed. Will not spread.
|Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed)|
Asclepias syriaca- aka Common Milkweed
This is the east coast cousin of Asclepias speciosa. The plants look very similar, however syriaca is *very* vigorous. We only recommend growing this plant if you have a fairly large amount of acreage so the plant will stay on your property.
Happy Autumn everyone, get those envelopes in! Use this form to email us and request our address.