The LalyFlor Garden Center in Tenerife sells milkweed to help monarch butterflies

Asclepias plants

Milkweed on sale at the Lalyflor Garden Center
Milkweed on sale at the Lalyflor Garden Center | Source

Milkweed – the only food-plant for monarch caterpillars

Do you like butterflies? Most people do, and in Tenerife there are the large and very beautiful monarch butterflies, which can be seen soaring so gracefully over parks and gardens in the island.

However, whilst the adult insects feed on nectar from a wide range of flowers, milkweed species (Asclepias spp) are the only plants that monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) caterpillars can eat and so the distribution of this insect depends on the availability of these plants. In fact, monarchs were only able to colonise Tenerife in the Canary Islands because the tropical or scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) is grown there as a garden flower.

Whilst it is wonderful that these magnificent butterflies live on the island they face the problem of finding enough gardens and parks with milkweed being grown in them. The more places that milkweed is being grown the better, when it comes to food for the caterpillars of the monarch butterfly. The tropical milkweed is a very pretty flower that will add a splash of colour to the garden and is easy enough to grow. Because it is a perennial it will grow back each year too from the rootstock.

Signpost for the Lalyflor Garden Center

Source

Lalyflor Garden Centre

The Lalyflor Garden Center is just outside La Vera and near to La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz in the north of Tenerife. It is also near the Leroy Merlin and San Jeroimo shopping centre. It is easy to find and has signposts showing where it is located. It is easy enough to find.

Lalyflor Garden Center is stocking plants of the tropical milkweed and selling them as “Asclepias.” The gardening business is targeting customers who want to attract monarch butterflies and help these insects because the plants have an advertising sign pointing out that they are for the “mariposa monarca” (monarch butterfly).

The milkweed plants are well grown and about 12 inches or more in height and are only €1.50 per pot.

Lallyflor Garden Center has a fantastic selection of other garden and indoor plants, as well as aquatic plants for the ornamental pool and culinary herbs.

They even sell insectivorous plants like the Venus fly-trap and pitcher plants.

They have a very good selection of gardening tools, plant pots, composts, and just about anything else you might be looking for.

So besides buying some milkweed plants you might pick up some other great bargains for your garden.

The Lalyflor centre also sells tropical and cold-water fish and reptiles. There is a good selection and it adds to the attractions of the centre, which is well worth visiting.

Adult Monarch Butterfly

Feeding on Milkweed flowers
Feeding on Milkweed flowers | Source

Why monarchs need our help

Monarch butterflies are well-known for the incredible migration the make across North America from the bottom of Canada and the most northerly States down to California and Mexico each autumn so the butterflies can overwinter in the south. They then migrate back the way they came in the spring.

Sadly over recent years the numbers making this amazing migration have been declining in number and this winter there has been a record low number of butterflies arriving in Mexico in their overwintering habitats in the forests there.

Monarchs are suffering threats to their survival from a variety of causes, including, Climate Change, habitat destruction, the widespread use of pesticides, and probably the most serious of all which is the lack of milkweed food-plants. Modern farming methods are using the herbicide Roundup to spray mile after mile of Roundup Ready maize and soya crops. These fields used to be places where milkweed species grew as weed but this is no longer the case.

LALYFLOR, tu Garden Center en Tenerife

Milkweed for the Monarch Butterflies poll

Would you buy milkweed plants to help the monarch butterflies?

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Monarchs in the Canary Islands

The monarch butterflies that are living in the Canary Islands admittedly do not face the same threats as those in America but they do face a problem of finding enough milkweed for the females to lay their eggs on.

There are simply not enough gardens and parks and public flower borders that have this plant growing in them, and the milkweed is not a native plant so is not found growing wild.

If we want to see more monarchs flying in Tenerife we need more gardeners growing milkweed.

This is where Lalyflor Garden Center comes in because they are supplying these plants which are vital to the survival of the monarch butterfly.

Tenerife is dependent on money coming in from all the tourists that come to the island and everyone loves to see butterflies, so imagine what wonderful publicity it would be if holiday-makers were being delighted by seeing so many pretty butterflies here. Word would soon get around and Tenerife could become La Isla de las mariposas (“The Island of the Butterrflies”). A name like that would definitely attract the tourists! And it could become a reality if there were enough butterflies flying on the island!

Where to find the Lalyflor Garden Center

© 2014 Steve Andrews

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