Monarch butterflies are rare this summer. I’ve seen just one in our St. Paul, MN, garden, even as monarda, swamp milkweed, common milkweed, black-eyed Susan’s, Joe-Pye weed, phlox and a blend of other native plants and garden perennials bloom. However, we have no shortage of milkweed to nurture monarch caterpillars if they were present. A lush patch of common milkweed (Asclepia syriaca) grows in our yard, possibly the best-ever since I spotted the first plant shooting up in the middle of a juniper hedge 15 years ago. The first milkweed blossom opened on July 7 and most of the plants were flowering by July 17.
Though monarchs are absent, red milkweed beetles, bumble bees and ruby-throated hummingbirds frequent our patch.
On July 22, I noticed the first seed pods. New pods continue to form and the earliest pods have plumped-up in the past week.