FROM: Sandy Robinson, President, National Garden Clubs, Inc.
SUBJECT: Milkweed

It has been brought to my attention that some “Big Stores” have been selling milkweed plants that have been treated with systemic Neonicotinoids. This will kill caterpillars! Please, be aware and be on the lookout for these tags placed in plants. Please pass this information along to your garden club members!

Garden Club member Mary Writes, I purchased a Milkweed plant from Home Depot near my home and it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the little information stick hidden behind the identification information that the plant had been treated with systemic Neonicotinoids. The container boasted how desirable the plant is for birds and butterflies. Yesterday I went to a different Home Depot and they had just put out an entire rolling cart of these plants, maybe about 100, all poisoned. I contacted the store manager and told him that it is the same as giving poison candy to kids on Halloween. This is THE host plant for the Monarch. My club, Shady Oaks and our junior club, Little Shadows have worked so hard to establish a Monarch Waystation and to educate people on the decline of the Monarch. I hate to think of the millions of poison Milkweed being distributed nationwide by Home Depot.

The container says distributed by Home Depot, 2455 Paces Ferry Rd N. W., Atlanta , Georgia.

I contacted the LSU Ag Agent for New Orleans, Dr Joe Willis. He said the Neonicotinoids will dilute as the plants grow but that only a very small amount will kill the larva of the Monarch. He is contacting the Master Gardeners of the area. I contacted the newsletters of garden clubs to ask that they send a notice to members. I contacted a local GOA club and the president said she would inform her members. I contacted our LGCF President and our Environmental School Chairman with the information.
We need a notice to Home Depot from a national source.

I contacted the Monarch Watch organization at the University of Kansas (1200 Sunnyside Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66045) .
It needs to be sent soon as these plants are being sold now to well meaning people who are wanting to help the Monarch and not kill them. I hate to think of the billions of plants being sold nationwide and how that will cancel the efforts of so many to stop the demise of the Monarch. Could you please help?

GMG Readers, Wednesday I am planning to check to see if our local Home Depots are also selling milkweeds with pesticide. I don’t purchase plants from Home Depot as they are generally of a much poorer quality, however I have in a pinch. 

Milkweed can be purchased from these local sources:

Cedar Rock Gardens

Wolf Hill

Northeast Nursery


  1. Nathalie


    Not sure if this is the case with all Home Depots, I am in CA and the milkweed I have purchased from one particular home depot here has been working great so far. Since 2014 I believe Home Depot is required to label plants that have pesticides. And the Vigoro brand does not have that label.

    So far I’ve release 10 healthy Monarchs and have 30+ chrysalis due to emerge next week. All have been on Home Depot plants.

    Again your Home Depot may have a different supplier, mine all have come from a supplier in Fallbrook, CA.

    Just wanted to share my experience.

  2. Donald R Morris

    My wife purchased milkweed and some salvia from Home Depot to supplement our garden milkweed that has been regrowing every year had been eaten to the ground and refresh the flowing nectar plants in our butterfly garden. There were no neonic warning tags on any of them. Now all of our caterpillars are gone and the plants she purchased haven’t been touched, There are no monarchs or many other butterflies flying around my yard either so I’m wondering if the nectar and pollen on the milkweed and other flowering plants from Home Depot is also poison?

  3. Cathleen Gaul

    My daughter is raising monarchs for the first time. Everything was going well until she purchased a milkweed plant from Home Depot marked vigoro on container and she lost 2 caterpillars on 1st day. First plant was from garden center. We saw the notice about milkweed from Home Depot and went back to garden center plants. We hope we have been quick to save the rest. So sad that many people will not realize what is causing monarch caterpillars to die. She lives in San Diego.

  4. Dow O'Brien

    I’m writing this in June 2019, and I live in San Juan Capistrano, CA. I had raised about 30 Monarch caterpillars from eggs, in a protected enclosure, and they were doing very well – until I bought a milkweed plant from Home Depot, as they were running out milkweed from my garden cuttings. There was nothing on the Home Depot Vigoro label that indicated ‘pesticides.’ and I was assured by a nursery employee that they aren’t used. However, all of my inch-long fat, happy, and healthy Monarch caterpillars died within a few hours of my introducing the Home Depot milkweed plant. Most had expelled green fluids, some were simply curled up and dead. AS STATED ABOVE, PLEASE DO NOT BUY MILKWEED FROM BIG BOX STORES!!!

  5. Angry person

    I got a milkweed plant from Home Depot because i had ran out and Garden Center didn’t have any milkweed plants and my plant did not have a label saying it has poison and then all my caterpillars stopped moving when they ate and they died. I am so angry at Home Depot for doing this. I will never buy anything from them ever again. and what was so sad was that I had a whole bunch of caterpillars and then they all just DIED.

    1. Jenny Williams

      May 2021
      I have been having good luck raising monarchs in my lanai until I purchased six plants from Home Depot. No markings on the pots about being treated with poison but the results were staggering; caterpillars dead on the leaves, one dead halfway through changing to a chrysalis, five butterflies hatched with deformed wings and bodies. The only difference was the plants.

  6. Michele Nash

    Gosh I wish I had found this article before buying a milkweed from our San Diego Home Depot. I’m devastated right now. We have a giant milkweed which has been eaten to the ground and with so many new babies, we needed another plant. My local nurseries were out but I found at Home Depot. We moved 8 caterpillars on to the new plant which we house in a butterfly enclosure. Not one lead was eaten all every single caterpillar was dead. I read this article then checked the pot… all it had was a sticker which said “wait 2 weeks prior to exposure to caterpillars”. The plant was from smartplanetplants out of Vista, CA. I’m so upset!!!


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