"Monarch Waystations are places that provide resources necessary for monarchs to produce successive generations and sustain their migration. Without milkweeds throughout their spring and summer breeding areas in North America, monarchs would not be able to produce the successive generations that culminate in the migration each fall.
Similarly, without nectar from flowers these fall migratory monarch butterflies would be unable to make their long journey to overwintering grounds in Mexico. The need for host plants for larvae and energy sources for adults applies to all monarch and butterfly populations around the world."
Keep Hutto Beautiful officially certified their Monarch Waystation at the Peterson Community Garden in November 2017.
Milkweed varieties located at Peterson Community Garden
(Asclepias viridis Walter) Green Milkweed is a native, perennial forb or herb with alternate, entire leaves. The leaf margins are often wavy. Flowers are white and in an umbel, mostly one per plant. Upon close inspection, some rose or purple color is evident in the center of each individual flower (gynostegium). The milky substance that is exuded when a plant part is broken is very sticky, much resembling “Elmer’s glue.” These milkweeds bloom from late spring to middle summer.
This milkweed is common in pastures from Kansas to Texas. Generally avoided by cattle and horses. It can be found along roadsides, ditches, prairies, open areas, and other areas with little vegetative competition.
(Asclepias Asperula) Antelope Horn milkweed is a clump-forming, 1-2 ft. perennial with an upright or sprawling habit. Stems are densely covered with minute hairs. The leaves are 4-8 inches long, narrow, and irregularly grouped. The long, thick, narrow leaves are often folded lengthwise. As the green seed follicles grow in length and begin to curve, they are said to resemble antelope horns, thus one of its vernacular names.
Milkweed species are the food source for Monarch butterfly caterpillars.
(Asclepias latifolia) Broadleaf milkweed grows 2-3 feet tall, with no branches but numerous large leaves, 3-4 inches long and 2 inches wide. They are attached directly to the main stem and are coarse with prominent veins. The pale green to yellowish flowers are almost hidden by the leaves.
(Asclepias verticillata) Whorled milkweed is a single-stemmed, unbranched perennial, 1-3 ft. tall. The narrow, linear leaves are whorled along the stem. Small, greenish-white flowers occur in flat-topped clusters on the upper part of the stem.
Because of its toxicity to livestock, this plant is considered a weed in range areas.
(Cynanchum racemosum) Talayote Milkweed produces clusters of small cream and green milkweed flowers that are held above and among the large heart shaped foliage and can be found in flower from summer and into early fall attracting a host of smaller pollinators. Admittedly the flowers of Talayote are not extra large and showy but it could certainly be used in the garden as a screen or at the back of the garden if so desired. By some this plant may be considered weedy, simply remove any ripening seed pods to prevent unwanted seedlings.
(Asclepias syriaca)The Common Milkweed is the plant that most people associate with the word “milkweed”. This is a tall and conspicuous species that sometimes forms large clones. The umbels bear large balls of pink to purplish flowers that have an attractive odor. This species is known to form hybrids with both A. exaltata (in the east) and A. speciosa (in the west). Follicles split open in the fall and early winter dispensing wind borne seeds. Among the milkweeds, this species is the best at colonizing in disturbed sites. Within its range it can be found in a broad array of habitats from croplands, to pastures, roadsides, ditches and old fields. It is surprisingly rare in prairies in the Midwest being found mostly in disturbed sites within these habitats. As an indigenous species of the southern Great Plains, it has all the attributes of what some ecologists call a “fugitive species”. That is, one whose appearance and persistence is dependent on disturbance due to its inability to compete with other vegetation. In the northern parts of its range it seems to be a more permanent member of the floral communities.
This plant differs from Showy Milkweed (A. speciosa) in having an unbranched stem. The plant contains cardiac glycosides, allied to digitalins used in treating some heart disease. These glycosides, when absorbed by monarch butterfly larvae whose sole source of food is milkweed foliage, make the larvae and adult butterflies toxic to birds and other predators.
(Asclepias Curassavica) Tropical milkweed is a non-native flowering plant species of the milkweed genus, Asclepias. It is native to the American tropics and has a pantropical distribution as an introduced species. There is some concern over planting Tropical milkweed from some.
“When tropical milkweed is planted in the coastal southern U.S. and California, these plants continue to flower and produce new leaves throughout the fall and winter, except during rare freeze events. Potential negative effects on monarchs include 1) continuous breeding on the same plants, which can lead to a build-up of Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) infection, and 2) availability of milkweed during a time that it is not naturally available, and so potential consequent impacts on monarch breeding during the fall migration.” - Monarch expert Karen Oberhauser. If planting the Tropical Milkweed (which is the most available type of milkweed in stores and garden centers, make sure to cut back in the fall to avoid some of the potential negative effects listed above.
It's All About Community!
Native Garden Grant Recipient
Keep Texas Beautiful recognized Keep Hutto Beautiful Foundation as a recipient of the 2017 Native Garden Grants Program. Through funding from AEP Texas, Keep Texas Beautiful provided six affiliate communities with $800.00 each for support and materials needed to create and maintain a native plant demonstration garden. Keep Hutto Beautiful Foundation utilized the funds to create a Monarch Waystation, the first of the demonstration gardens to be created at the Peterson Community Garden.
Monarch Watch Grant Recipient
Keep Hutto Beautiful was a recipient of a Monarch Watch Grant in Spring 2019. This provided the organization a flat of Green Milkweed plugs (baby plants) to be planted at our certified Monarch Waystation. This is a grant made available to schools and nonprofits and made possible through Natural Resources Defense Council Green Gifts program.
In October 2017, employees from the Hutto Lowe’s store spent the day at the Peterson Community Garden enhancing the future Monarch Waystation garden beds as part of the Lowe’s Heroes program. Stone borders, as well as compost and mulch, were added to three beds as part of the next phase of the Waystation project. The Lowe’s Heroes program’s mantra is “Helping Hutto Love Where We Live,” and gives the store’s employees an opportunity to assist in community projects through donations of both labor and materials. The Lowe's Heroes have since come back to assist with other projects at the Peterson Community Garden, truly becoming an asset to Keep Hutto Beautiful.
Dempsey Smalls' Eagle Scout Project
Dempsey Smalls the spring of 2019 working on his Eagle Scout Project at the Peterson Community Garden! The project has included two new demonstration areas, plus an expansion to the Monarch Waystation! One of the new demonstration areas is a native lawn grass area to showcase drought tolerant lawn options for this region. The other demonstration area is a vegetable garden which will allow Keep Hutto Beautiful to demonstrate different varieties of vegetables that grow well here in Hutto each season.
Part of the Eagle Scout process is being able to lead others and perform project management. The work that Dempsey is leading out at the Peterson Community Garden will be a great benefit to the entire Hutto Community!