How To Successfully Buy Milkweed Plants and Seeds Online
One of the questions I get asked most often is where to buy milkweed from. Unfortunately, milkweed isn’t widely available locally for many across North America. If it is, you typically only have a couple varieties to choose from.
You might be lucky enough to stumble into a milkweed forest at a big box store, but are you sure those plants haven’t been treated with monarch-killing pesticides? Are the people who work there even sure?
If you’re one of the lucky monarch supporters who has found a dependable local resource for milkweed plants, that’s great news! However, if there’s a variety that’s been eluding you, it’s usually just a click away on your computer, phone, or tablet.
Purchasing milkweed seeds/plants online has helped us host over 15 milkweed varieties in our butterfly garden, and it can help to expand your selection too. This, in turn, helps you attract and support more monarchs in your garden!
Add a variety of milkweed to your butterfly garden. Don’t create a Milkweed Monoculture that only attracts monarchs for part of the season!
The following 7 tips are my checklist for deciding where to buy milkweed online. I hope these tips will help you get the milkweed you need for a successful monarch butterfly season…
A Checklist for Buying Milkweed Online
Know Your Options
There are milkweed varieties that are native to your region, perennial to your region, or can even be grown as annuals. Start with 2-3 varieties that are native to your region, because the native varieties should come back reliably every season.
Check out my milkweed resources page, which lists 25 milkweed species along with their native and perennial regions. Even if you purchase elsewhere, it’s a good source for exploring all your milkweed options.
Check Feedback and Reviews
If you’ve looked at my milkweed resources page before, you’ll find that the majority of the links go to vendors selling on Amazon and eBay. Why?
Many many nurseries and gardeners sell milkweed seeds/plants through these huge online retailers. This means when you’re search for a specific variety, there’s a good chance they’ll have exactly what you’re looking for.
Both have reviews/ratings of products and vendors which give you a good indication whether you’ll satisfied purchasing milkweed from them. A general rule of thumb is to avoid vendors with less than 97% positive reviews.
There are plenty of vendors to choose from so you can and should be picky about who you buy from.
Even if there is a problem with your online milkweed purchase, a reputable vendor will accommodate you by sending out new seeds/plants or refunding your money .
My first ever plant purchase online was from Prairie Moon Nursery a few years back. The liatris plants (not milkweed) arrived in shambles. When I contacted them, they apologized for the plants and immediately sent out replacements free of charge.
Today, those replacement plants have seen some of the most spectacular butterfly activity in our garden, and I would not hesitate to buy from them again because of how they handled the situation.
Every company makes mistakes…the good ones fix their mistakes so the customer is 100% satisfied.
Seek out a Specialist
When buying milkweed seeds or plants, look for a vendor that has experience selling them. These vendors are likelier to know more about handling milkweed seeds/plants and packaging them for delivery.
I added a specific stores section at the end of my resource page for people that wanted to know which vendors I personally recommend and have purchased from:
Buy Milkweed by Botanical Name
Generic common names like butterfly flower and butterfly weed can refer to several different species of milkweed, so only purchase when you see the scientific name. Botanical name examples: Asclepias tuberosa and Gomphocarpus physocarpus.
Go Fresh…and Organic!
Seeds harvested within the past couple years should have higher germination rates. Again, finding vendors with positive feedback reduces the risk of dealing with dishonest vendors selling old seeds or unhealthy plant stock.
Also, be sure the seller you are purchasing from is growing their butterfly plants organically. Many times, this info will be listed on the same page you are purchasing the plants, or elsewhere on the website. If you can’t find this info, email them for confirmation that their plants have been grown 100% pesticide free.
Made in the USA
Since most of this website audience is in the US, my suggestion is to buy seeds/plants from U.S. sellers. If you’re in New Zealand, I would recommend getting milkweed stock there…
It’s much simpler to purchase from your country, especially if there’s an issue and you need new plants or seeds. Shipping internationally means your milkweed goes through customs, and there’s no guarantees for when your milkweed will arrive or what shape it will be in. There are plenty of quality milkweed vendors shipping stateside. Keep it simple when you can…
Finding Plants and Plugs?
Some gardeners prefer a simpler way to get started. Buy plants or plugs to get a huge head start on the returning spring monarchs, and receive plants that should flower and seed their first season.
Generally, swamp milkweed and tropical milkweed are the easiest plants to find online, and they’re usually available from April through October. If you can’t find plants now, check back weekly to see new listings at the bottom of these milkweed plant pages:
Most other varieties are in short supply and you’ll need to start from seed, or pay a hefty sum to acquire precious plugs and plants. Sometimes (on eBay, Etsy, or Amazon) you can get lucky and find a gardener offering a rare gem at a discount price!
Please refer to the milkweed resources page to see if other milkweed plants are available.
The Black List
Remember to save the website info for the vendors that you have a top notch milkweed experience with…and to black list the rest so they’ll never get a chance to fool you twice!
Since I’ve followed this checklist for where to buy milkweed online, we’ve added hard to find milkweed plants and our garden has flourished and attracted more monarchs and pollinators than I ever thought possible.
Buy local when possible, then look for hard-to-find options online to take your garden to the next level…