Milkweed Watering Instructions

Thank you for your interest in helping keep the milkweed on the Tonto National Forest healthy! Watering will be twice weekly for the first few weeks after new milkweed is planted in the fall. As the plants become established during the winter months, the watering frequency will decrease. During the summer months, watering increases in frequency depending on temperatures and precipitation. Typically, supplemental water for the first year is needed until the plants have matured.

Here are six easy steps to take to help with watering the milkweed plants:

  1. Read the watering instructions below for the site you’re going to – either Sears-Kay on the Cave Creek Ranger District, or Larry Forbis on the Lower Salt River on the Mesa Ranger District.
  2. Read the Field Safety Analysis and complete the Friends of the Tonto Liability Waiver (includes minor consent). We encourage you to bring a friend or family member to help! Just remember anyone you bring with you will need to review the Field Safety Analysis and complete the waiver.
  3. Sign up to water at your preferred location by following the instructions below.
  4. Go out and water!
  5. Fill out a time sheet report with your hours and mileage for the day. Your time on the project starts when you leave your house and ends when you return.
  6. Pour yourself a cold (or hot!) one, congratulate yourself on a job well done and sign up to water again!

How to Sign up for a Watering Shift

We’re using to organize the watering. Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps. Please note one of the FOTNF project leaders will be happy to accompany you the first time you water.

  1. Click one of these links to sign up to water
  2. Review the options listed and choose the dates you can water.
  3. Click the green Signup button and add your email, name and phone number. You will not need to register an account or keep a password.

Know Before you go:

  • Check a map to be sure you know how to get where you’re going.
  • Let a friend know where you are going and when you expect to return. Remember to call them back to let them know you returned safely.
  • Watch your footing and watch for traffic when watering.

Specific Instructions for

Sears-Kay on the Cave Creek Ranger District

Step One: Pick up water at the Cave Creek Ranger Station.
The Cave Creek Ranger station is located at 40202 Cave Creek Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85262. Water jugs, hose and water tap are located at the far right-side maintenance yard beyond the ranger station. To access the yard, turn left at the entrance to the Cave Creek Ranger Station on Bartlett Dam Road (less than 1/4 mile from Bartlett Dam Road/Cave Creek Road intersection). Continue along the entrance road past the ranger station and turn right into the far maintenance yard. Water jugs and hose are stored along the right side of the lot. Pick up enough containers (gallon jugs and/or 2.5 gallon containers) to equal 24 gallons (each seedling needs ½ gallon).

Note: Please check the ranger station hours, as the maintenance yard is only accessible when the ranger station is open. If you need to water when the ranger station is closed, contact after you register for instructions.

Step Two: Getting to Sears-Kay Milkweed Site & Watering:
From the Cave Creek Ranger Station turn right onto Bartlett Dam Road and go back to the intersection with Cave Creek Road (less than ¼ mile). Turn right onto Cave Creek Road so you are driving northeast. You will pass the Tonto Hills community on your left and a golf course on your right. Drive 2.7 miles to the turnoff to Sears-Kay Ruin Interpretive site on your right. The road and parking lot are paved and there is a restroom available, but no water. Seedlings are planted along the entrance road and near the kiosk at the parking lot. A map of the seedlings will be sent to you once you register to water.

Each plant has a metal mesh fencing tube around it to protect it from marauding wildlife. If tubes have been knocked down, please set them back up and secure the base. Give each plant ½ gallon of water. Pour slowly so as not to disturb the roots of the fragile seedlings.

Return the water containers to the maintenance yard and refill the containers. Attach the coiled Friends of the Tonto hose to a hose coupling at the water pipe (just beyond the shed) and lightly turn the water lever on. Be sure to turn the water lever off, detach the hose, and leave it coiled by the water jugs for the next waterer. If you need assistance, staff at the ranger station will be able to answer questions.

Specific Instructions for

Larry Forbis Group Recreation Site on the Mesa Ranger District

Step One: Picking up water at the Mesa Ranger District Office:
The Mesa Ranger District station is located at 5140 E. Ingram St., Mesa, AZ 85209. The water cubies, gallon jugs for watering individual plants, and funnel to be used for the Larry Forbis site will be stored near the picnic tables at the back of the Mesa Ranger District station. You will pick up, drop off, and refill the containers at the office. Use the hose and spigot on the east side of the building near the picnic tables to refill the containers. A key to the spigot is kept on the “window” in the wall behind the water jugs. Use it to turn on the water; place it back on the window when you are done.

Each cubie holds 5 gallons of water.  Each plant requires ½ gallon of water, so a total of 25 gallons will need to be taken to the site. You can choose to take 5 full containers, or 10 ½ full containers if you want to reduce the weight. You also have the option to use 25 1-gallon jugs. You are welcome to bring your own gallon jugs.

Step Two: Getting to the Larry Forbis Milkweed Site & Watering:
The Larry Forbis Group Recreation Area is located on the Bush Highway, inside the Pebble Beach Recreation Area. Follow this Google Map link to the site: Larry Forbis Group Site.  Stay left after turning in to Pebble Beach, and the planting site is through the gate. A gate code will be provided when you sign up.

Most plants will have a metal mesh fencing tube around them to protect them from marauding wildlife, and a flag near them. Check in each planted area to make sure you find all the plants, even ones that may be missing a tube. If the tubes have been knocked down, please set them back up and secure the base so they don’t fall again. Give each plant ½ gallon of water.  Pour slowly so as not to disturb the roots of the fragile seedlings.

Return the containers, jugs, and funnel to the Mesa Ranger District Office when you’re done watering and refill the containers for the next volunteer.


Feel free to reach out to FOTNF project leaders if you have any questions about milkweed watering.
Sears – Kay:
Larry Forbis Group Recreation Site: