Introducingthe Berlin Land Trust

Milkweed Project

The Berlin Land Trust has just begun The BLT Milkweed Project. Our goal is to increase the populations of monarch butterflies and other pollinators by increasing the number of native milkweed plants that support and nourish them.

Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweeds. The caterpillars who emerge from those eggs must have enough milkweed to feed on throughout the larval stage. Milkweeds also provide food for many other beneficial insects.

The BLT is just getting started on our Milkweed Project, but we hope to accomplish the following:

Planting Milkweed

Fall Planting: Sprinkle seeds on well-tilled soil. Pat down. Cover lightly with soil. Water. Make soil depth equal to thickness of seed. Plant when soil is not frozen, but is too cold for seeds to germinate.

Spring Planting: “Milkweed seeds need to be stratified to help them germinate. Stratification is when a seed is moistened, chilled or frozen and thawed, breaking down germination inhibitors on the seed coat, such as waxes, hormones, oils or heavy coats. Milkweed seed planted in fall is naturally stratified. Spring-planted seeds need to be pre-chilled in the refrigerator, which replicates the natural process of snow and cold breaking down the seed casing.” 

Whorled Milkweed and Monarch Caterpillars on Long Acres Preserve

On a sunny day in August, members of the Berlin Land Trust planted 22 whorled milkweed plants on our Long Acres Preserve.

We purchased the plants at a native plant nursery. Once we got the plants home, we noticed two tiny monarch caterpillars clinging to the leaves of 2 different plants. We guessed by their sizes that they were just a few days old. We checked on the little creatures frequently until planting day.

After planting, we looked for caterpillars each time we went to water the milkweeds. We saw none. We noted that someone was eating the leaves, so we were optimistic. Eventually, our volunteers saw the caterpillars again. They were large and healthy. We don’t know what happened next, but we hope that they became the first of many monarch butterflies to begin their lives on our Long Acres Preserve.

Our planting day was an early effort of The Berlin Land Trust Milkweed Project. The Berlin Land Trust is working to increase the number of monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects by increasing the number of milkweed plants available for them to feed on.