subpage flowers image

Horticulture Hosts Milkweed to Save the Monarchs

October 3, 2019



Since 1990, the monarch butterfly population in the United States has declined 90 percent due to a destructive combination of climate change, pesticides, and loss of habitat. Foothill College’s Horticulture Department has partnered with the Monarch Mamas of the Garden Club of Palo Alto to help raise awareness to save this winged wonder. The Gamble Garden Monarch Festival on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. will be the group’s first-ever festival to celebrate monarchs and pollinators. The event coincides with the western monarch’s migration to the coast. 

“We are propagating from seed 750 milkweed plants that will be given away to help establish larvae and nectar plants along the migration flyway. No milkweed, no butterflies, it’s that simple,” said instructor Frank Niccoli, chair of the horticulture department. “Those who receive a plant will be asked to give us their address and the planting will be mapped so that we know where the plants are located. And in the spring we do it all over again.” 

Monarchs come out of hibernation in February and March. They migrate north and east to lay their eggs on milkweed plants. Monarch Mamas gave the milkweed seeds to the Horticulture Department, which began the propagation process in spring. More than 1,000 plants grew from the seeds. 

The Monarch Festival will also include hands-on activities designed for learning, education tables, and talks for all ages. The festival culminates in a children’s monarch parade. Costumes are welcome. 

“We’re proud that we can play a part in helping in a small way to save the monarchs,” said Niccoli. 

If you’d like to visit the milkweed or learn more about the festival, please contact Frank Niccoli at