Due to the mild climate we enjoy in the Valley of the Sun, we share the region with some very UNIQUE creatures such as the western monarch butterfly. But sadly, these beautiful creatures population has dropped substantially in recent years. Once abundant, numbering as many as 300,000 just a few decades ago, it is estimated that the monarch population has dwindled to fewer than 30,000 in late 2019. This severe decline could be the beginning of the end for monarchs in the wild. But as a resident of Phoenix, you can help the monarch population by merely adding a few specific plants to your landscape. To learn more about landscape designs with a purpose and plants that will help save the monarch population, call 480-969-1911 to schedule a free consultation with a UNIQUE landscape design specialist or click here to complete an online request.
Monarchs Depend On Milkweed
Milkweed plants are the lifeblood of the monarch population. Their eggs are attached to the leaves so that the caterpillar has an immediate food source once it escapes the egg case. The caterpillar continues to consume milkweed until it is ready to create its chrysalis in preparation for its transformation into a monarch butterfly.
Unfortunately, many natural areas where milkweed once grew prolifically have been consumed by the cities and towns throughout the southwest. And without any other options for their habitat, the monarch population has dropped to near extinction levels.
How You Can Help Prevent Extinction
The solution to saving the monarch population is as simple as restoring its natural habitat. And while we cannot remove the sprawl of our cities and towns, we can replace the plants that once grew here naturally. Adding varieties of milkweeds to your landscape will provide the breeding area and food source needed for this species to repopulate the southwest.
Varieties Of Milkweed
Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is a favorite of the monarch. And though it is not a native to the area, it has been adapted to thrive in the area as a perennial. The plants range from two feet tall to about four-plus and offer very showy orange and yellow blooms. In most areas of Phoenix, the plants remain green year-round and will reseed, making it great for a green barrier or backdrop in your landscape.
Arizona milkweed (Asclepias angustifolia) is a native variety that offers small white flowers from spring to late summer. This variety is more adapted to a dry, rocky area. It will require less water and care than the tropical variety. Desert Milkweed (Asclepias erosa) is native to the region and can be found from California to western Mexico. Most people view this variety as a weed and will pull it or spray it with weed killer. But when allowed to remain in a landscape, the plants grow to about two to three feet tall and have large clusters of small white flowers. This plant will thrive in an arid area and requires little to no supplemental watering. It is an excellent addition to a space where you want a natural desert look. Adding a few plants to a cactus and agave planting will add texture and foliage without requiring irrigation.
It can be very easy to forget that as our city grows, we are reducing the natural areas that provide a habitat for many creatures of the southwest. But with a little bit of planning and research, you can learn how to help recreate a habitat for the western monarch before it becomes endangered or extinct. To learn more about plants that will enhance your landscape and promote the natural ecosystem in our area, call 480-969-1911 to schedule a free consultation with a UNIQUE landscape design specialist or click here to complete an online request. Not only will the butterflies benefit, but you could discover