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Mariposa Market
500 South Main Street
Willits, CA 95490

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   Store Hours:
8 AM to 7 PM

8 AM to 6PM

9 AM to 5 PM
 Deli Hours:
8 AM to 4 PM

9 AM to 4 PM
Saturday & Sunday

BY Mary Anne Trevey

Unfortunately, one of America’s most beloved butterflies, the Monarch, is losing its habitat to modern farming methods and population density. This renowned butterfly makes a 3000 mile migration to California and Mexico for the winter, the only North American butterfly to make this type of journey. It may take 6-8 generations to complete this trip, and it requires one sustaining plant to provide a nursery for its larvae. This plant is called Milkweed, once prevalent across the U.S. and common in the migratory path of the Monarch. The use of pesticides and herbicides has resulted in the death of the common milkweed and has caused the Monarch populations to decrease by 90% over the last 20 years. This is a serious situation and the Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing whether to put the Monarch under the Endangered Species Act as “threatened”.

As home gardeners we can help to replenish the butterfly population by sowing seeds for Milkweed throughout our communities. Milkweed is a robust perennial plant that is fairly easy to grow and, once established, provides much needed habitat for the Monarch butterfly caterpillars, which feed on its leaves. With pink, white, and fiery orange and red flowers, it is also a beautiful garden addition. Some varieties even have a very pleasant scent.

Sow seeds (three varieties are available at Mariposa Market) 2-4 weeks before the last frost, and again up to 8 weeks before the first fall frost. In short seasons, sow indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost. Butterfly flower benefits from stratification, the process of subjecting seed to moist/cold conditions to break dormancy. This occurs naturally if the seeds are sown outdoors in the fall. When starting seeds in the spring, sow the seed into a container of moistened seed-starting mix, cover with clear plastic and leave the container in the refrigerator for 3-6 weeks; then remove to a warm location to germinate. Keep the soil evenly moist. If this seems too complicated, ask your local nursery to provide some plants (or order some from Annie’s Annuals in Oakland) which should be available in late spring. Once established, the plants will emerge from dormancy in April or May and burst forth with many umbrels of flowers, some sweetly scented. I never had Monarch butterflies in my garden, but now that I have several Milkweed plants, I have seen a few in the summer, a most welcome sight. Once the butterflies realize that their host plants are there, they will come to start their families in your garden too.


Visit our Mariposa Market Coffee Bar and Deli where you can enjoy a variety of treats to make your day happier & healthier.



Mariposa Market has an extensive Wine and Beer selection to enhance your table.

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Our May Sales Run From April 28th Until May 25th

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