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by Anthony Gomez

5 months ago

Raising Butterflies Blog

Prepare Milkweed Plants for Monarch Eggs- Raise The Migration 2020

Before you raise monarch migration butterflies, try these tips for preparing milkweed plants so you're more likely to receive a monarch egg deposit.

by Anthony Gomez

5 months ago

How to Prepare Milkweed for Receiving Monarch Butterfly Eggs

by Anthony Gomez

5 months ago

Your Eggs-citing Monarch Adventure is about to to Begin…

How to Prepare Milkweed for Raising Monarch Butterflies- Raise The Migration

If you haven’t seen the raising supply list, please refer to it now to insure you have everything you need to get started. If you can’t access the supplies you need, just follow along and make adjustments or use these raising tips for future monarch generations.

In case you forgot, my name is Tony Gomez and I’ll be guiding you through this 30 day transformation. This page was posted on August 8, 2020.  Remember that you don’t need to follow along in real time…

I’m starting earlier than I normally would so you’ll never have to wait or proceed into unchartered waters. Most of monarch territory still has plenty of time to raise migration monarchs.

Check out the info on the supply list about the best time to start raising for your region.



How To Prepare Late-Season Milkweed Plants for Monarch Eggs

Before you can expect to receive prized monarch eggs, it’s important to prepare milkweed plants in advance for your honored guests’ arrival.

If you’re afraid you don’t have enough milkweed to support monarchs (and don’t have access to a pesticide-free local milkweed source) consider starting a butterfly garden instead.

If you’ve got enough milkweed to support the monarchy, let’s talk strategy…

Potted Milkweed Plants

For the past few seasons, we have placed tropical and swamp milkweed containers on our raised beds, in garden carts, and other various places in hopes of attracting gravid (mated) monarch females…it works!

In fact, it worked a little too well in late summer 2012 when we got 53 eggs on just two potted milkweed plants…in one weekend!

We stopped raising monarchs on potted plants because of hidden predators and declining plant health indoors…but milkweed container plants are still a fantastic tool for attracting monarch mamas:

Potted milkweed plants are a good way to attract monarch eggs, but blooming flowers will attract more more predators. Learn more about using container milkweed to attract monarchs...
Before: Predator Paradise

Tropical Milkweed Prepared for Raising Monarch Migration Butterflies       After: Prepared for Eggs-tion
  • Start preparing a few milkweed plants 1-2 weeks before you want monarch eggs
  • Water thoroughly every few days at the base of your plant(s) to keep leaves hydrated. Water more or less depending on your local precip
  • Swamp Milkweed and Tropical Milkweed are two of your best options because they grow well in pots and are easy to transplant. They are also favorite egg-laying milkweeds for late season monarchs.
  • Any milkweed you prepare should have fresh, healthy leaves. Remove sickly leaves or stems from milkweed plants and discard.
  • Cut off blooming flowers on  a few plants you want to collect eggs from. The absence of flowers will reduce (but not eliminate) visits from monarch-seeking predators…flower buds are ok because they provide cover, and are a preferred spot for egg laying.
  • Check plants for predators 🕷 and foreign eggs. These should be monarch-only milkweed plants for egg collection purposes.
  • Having issues with aphids? Here are 10 Ways to Win the Milkweed War against Aphids

After milkweed prep is done, put your pot(s) out for the monarch mamas to find. I suggest putting it in a place that gets partial sun and away from other patches of milkweed.

Why Partial Sun?

Partial sun will keep leaves fresh longer, and prevent eggs/cats from getting cooked by the summer sun.

Why Away from the Main Patch?

There tends to be a higher concentration of milkweed predators inside a patch. Lone milkweed plants usually get less attention from pesky monarch-munching predators.

Keep an eye on your plants while you’re waiting for eggs. If you find ants, stink bugs, spiders, tussock moth caterpillars, or foreign eggs remove and relocate them. These should remain monarch-only milkweed plants while waiting for eggs.

note: You do not need to pot milkweed, but I often find eggs on ours and have heard similar reports from others. If you have lone first-year milkweed plants that have seeded in your garden, those are also prime real estate for collecting treasured eggs.


  • Predators and pests can be hiding in the plant or on the container
  • Heavy containers can accidentally wound or kill monarchs
  • Soil can become moldy, collect frass (poop), or have disease spores/pathogens
  • Difficult to effectively clean/rinse an entire plant
  • Plants put out/maintain healthier growth outdoors


  • Leave potted milkweed outside
  • Collect stem cuttings with eggs off potted milkweed to bring inside
  • Collect individual leaves with eggs off potted milkweed to bring in
  • If raising on container plants, check for predators multiple times

Milkweed Cuttings

Leaf and stem cuttings are, in my opinion, the best way to raise healthy monarchs because the milkweed stays fresh longer and cuttings keep the caterpillars from crawling around in potentially disease-causing frass. (poop)

You can also space out cuttings across your entire cage, which you can’t do using whole plants.

Since these will come from your garden plants (or another nearby patch) make sure your milkweed looks healthy and isn’t being overrun by predators or pests. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to collect a monarch deposit.

A good way to insure you have ‘clean’ milkweed for future seasons, is to diversify your milkweed species and plant several patches around your yard and garden. Predators and pests won’t be able to find them all!

Milkweed Cuttings can range in size from 1 leaf to 2 foot stalks, and what you use will depend on the height of your cage and cutting containers.

During spring and early  summer, I use Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) cuttings. I also use first-year common plants and the fresh regrowth from past cuttings later in the season.

In late summer, I switch to Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed), Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed), Gomphocarpus physocarpus (balloon plant), & Gomphocarpus fruticosus (swan plant), and Calotropis gigantea (giant milkweed) buds and leaves.

What you use will depend on what’s available in your region and when…

Note: I realize many of these options aren’t native, but most native milkweed looks pretty scraggly by season’s end. Tropical milkweed and balloon plant are our last milkweed plants with viable leaves for the caterpillars and the late summer favorites for egg laying.

As long as the milkweed is healthy, any garden variety milkweed can be used to feed and grow your caterpillars.


Unfortunately, the decline in the monarch population means monarchs are no longer a sure thing in North American butterfly gardens. I still believe that if you put the time into improving your butterfly garden, they will eventually come…but that doesn’t mean a predator won’t find the eggs/caterpillars before you do.


For those of you who want to insure you’ll be raising migration monarchs, there are a few options for buying them, including one western resource. Monarch egg/caterpillar vendors are on the supply list.

And now comes the hard part: waiting for your monarch eggs to arrive by air…or airmail!

I hope this info helps you to Prepare Milkweed Plants for Monarch Eggs. For further assistance raising healthy monarchs through the butterfly life cycle, a ✬✬✬✬✬ rated PDF download on How To Raise More Monarchs, with Less Effort is available for purchase HERE

★ Customer Reviews

Let customers speak for us 👍👎🏾

1870 reviews
Lots of good info

I’ve been raising monarchs for only 4 years and learned some new useful tips from this book. I plan to share it with my interested friends now. Looking forward to the next season!

Real butterfly cages at last!

I cannot wait to use my 2 sizes of cages this Spring! They look to be very good quality, as do the cuttings tubes and the poo poo tray. All much more "professional" looking than my huge aquarium with paper towel liners (that caterpillars can get lost under) and reused Sonic drink cups for cuttings! Lady monarchs, hurry this way!

Is sturdy and easy to clean

Fits my cage better and doesn’t slide around like paper towels.

Great job!

Although I haven't read all of it yet, it looks to be a great book! Photography is simply beautiful! I'm old-school and prefer to have a hard copy. Shipping was delayed due to post office backlog, and when I notified the company, they shipped another book to me by FedEx so I could receive my book before Christmas (I purchased it as a Christmas gift for someone). When I received both books, they were very gracious and let me keep the other book for myself! Thanks so much!

Baby Cube cage

Very well designed. I have loved this although my two cats seem to have died in their chrysalis form. I will wash it well with 20% bleach with water before the next season.