Free Milkweeds for Restoration Projects

Through funding provided by Monsanto and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), we will be able to offer 200,000 free milkweed plugs for large-scale restoration projects fall of 2015 through spring and fall 2016. Restoration sites must be a minimum of two acres. Gardens and landscaped areas do not qualify. Sites must be generally in the mid-west. We will have plants available from seed collected in ecoregions 212, 222, and 251 (see map below). Applicants for these free plugs are asked to describe the site. We would like to know the type of habitat (roadside, old field, prairie restoration, etc.), its location (approximate latitude and longitude), along with a brief description of how the site will be maintained. We would also appreciate it if your group would provide us with pictures taken during or after the planting. While the plugs are free, the recipients must agree to cover the modest shipping costs described below. For more information on Monsanto’s monarch program please see: Monsanto Announces Multi-Year Commitment to Help Monarch Butterflies.

Types of flats with plugs

Plugs will be available in two forms: flats with 32 plugs each and flats containing 50 plugs.

Milkweed species available

Fall 2016

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) and A. incarnata (swamp milkweed) will be available. We have some flats of ER 221 common milkweed (A. syriaca) available for immediate shipping.

Minimum orders

This program is intended for restoration projects only (not for gardens or resale). Our desire is to assure that milkweeds reach sites appropriate for restoration in sufficient numbers to effectively benefit monarchs and other pollinators. To meet this goal, and, due to the necessity of keeping production and handling costs low, the minimum order is four flats.

Maximum orders

Provisionally, the upper limit for an order is set at 1 pallet per restoration program. Depending on the types of plugs and packaging the number of plugs in a pallet is 1400-1600. This limit reflects our desire to distribute the available plugs over a broad range of locations. The idea is to fill as many holes in the distribution of milkweeds as we can with the available resources. If your organization is coordinating restoration over a broad range of sites, we might be willing to make an exception to the 1 pallet limit.


Most orders will be shipped UPS Ground (1-4 day delivery depending on the distance) unless the recipient is willing to pay for expedited shipping. Two-day delivery is preferred since 4 days in transit can stress the plants. If we anticipate that a shipment will require 4 days, we will let you know in case you wish pay to expedite delivery.

Pallets of plugs are shipped via truck. For all pallet orders, we need a shipping address that has a loading dock, as well as equipment to remove pallets from the truck to the dock as soon as the shipment arrives (pallet jack, fork lift, etc.). We also need a phone number of the person receiving the shipment, so that the driver can phone them when in the vicinity.

Shipping costs

Shipping costs are modest but will, of course, vary with the number of boxes with flats shipped to a recipient. In most cases, the costs per plug work out to be 20-30 cents. Therefore, a shipment of 200 plugs is likely to cost $40-$60.

Pallets are generally delivered in 2 days and shipping rates differ among carriers and with distance. Nevertheless, these costs are generally modest as well and are in line with our rates with UPS.

Please complete and submit the application form here:
Free Milkweeds for Restoration Projects Form

Direct questions to:

R. G. Bailey, Ecoregions of the United States, USDA Forest Service, revised 1994.

Species list with common names:

Asclepias amplexicaulis (Clasping milkweed)
Asclepias asperula (Antelope Horn Milkweed, Spider Milkweed)
Asclepias exaltata (Poke Milkweed)
Asclepias fasicularis (Mexican Whorled Milkweed, Narrowleaf Milkweed)
Asclepias hirtella (Green Milkweed)
Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)
Asclepias oenotheroides (Sidecluster Milkweed, Zizotes Milkweed)
Asclepias perennis (Aquatic milkweed)
Asclepias speciosa (Showy milkweed)
Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed)
Asclepias sullivantii (Sullivant’s Milkweed, Prairie Milkweed)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Milkweed)
Asclepias variegata (White milkweed)
Asclepias verticillata (Whorled milkweed)
Asclepias viridiflora (Green Comet Milkweed)
Asclepias viridis (Green Antelopehorn Milkweed)

Images of most of these species can be found at