We know that an estimated 450 million Monarch butterflies overwintered in the ancient oyamel trees of the Mexican mountainsides this winter. Now they’re rousing from their
winter siesta and heading north for spring break. On Tuesday, we had a report from Brush Freeman, a butterfly fan in Utley, Texas, who observed a FOS (first of season) Monarch in Bastrop County, several others reported sightings in Georgetown and Austin and I saw my first on Wednesday in a parking lot.
The brutal freeze took a sad toll on this year’s native milkweed and finds us several weeks behind schedule. Where will the female Monarch butterflies lay their eggs when they arrive and what will the hatched caterpillars eat?
The good news is that several local nurseries have milkweed in stock. That’s typically Asclepias curassavica, also known as Tropical Milkweed. While it’s not technically native to Texas, it’s better than no milkweed at all.
Texas Butterfly Ranch has made it easy on you and called around to our favorite San Antonio and Austin nurseries to find out who’s “got milkweed” in stock. Here’s what we learned:
In San Antonio
Milberger’s (210.497.1303) said they had no milkweed in stock.
Fanick’s Nursery (210.648.1303) has one-gallon milkweeds that they say have NOT been sprayed with any systematic pesticides. Remember that you must have organic, pesticide-free milkweed if caterpillars are going to munch on it. It’s no fun to find a thriving caterpillar in the wild, place it on a cultivated milkweed plant and find it dead hours later.
Schulz’s Nursery (210 804.0600) in San Antonio said they also have one and five-gallon milkweeds in stock. Pesticide free, according to milkweed wrangler Michael Fancher there, who even called the grower to confirm its pedigree.
The Great Outdoors, (512.448.2992) may be my favorite hippie nursery since they let my dog run around and give her treats. They pride themselves on organic everything and had plenty of Asclepias curassavica on hand this week when I stopped by. The plants even had aphids on them–a good sign that they’re safe for caterpillars to eat.
Barton Springs Nursery, (512.328.6655), which always seems to have one of the best collections of native plants, was the only place I called that had grown their own milkweed and could guarantee it was pesticide free. “We grow these ourselves” said Taylor Chaney, adding that one-gallon pots are selling for $5.99.
The Natural Gardener, (512-288-6113) another Austin favorite supplier, said they had plenty of milkweed on hand and added that they only buy from organic growers.
For more info on what milkweed species are most desireable, check out our Milkweed Guide. And please let us know if you see any Monarchs in your gardens or elsewhere.