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I'd like to attract monarchs and other native butterflies to my garden. What should I plant?

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2016  |  41 Views

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For a listing of native butterflies and the plants that sustain them, see our Libguide, Butterfly Gardens. All the butterflies listed there are natives of the northeastern U.S. If you like a certain butterfly, you can use the guide to determine its nectar source and larva host. Take monarch butterflies for example: you will see that they can use several plants for a nectar source but lay eggs only on milkweeds. Also pay attention to the habitat column. As an example, monarchs need open spaces, so if you have a wooded area it probably won’t support them.

Here is a little information on milkweeds:

  • Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed) grows all over eastern North America. The information in this link may be a little St. Louis-focused because it's from the Missouri Botanical Garden. The flowers are usually more of a mauve/pinkish color. 
  • Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) also grows all over but is more prevalent in the Northeast. Its flower is more purple.
  • Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed), another native, is commonly sold at nurseries. It definitely attracts butterflies (including monarchs), and some varieties lay eggs on it. Flower color is an eye-catching bright orange. 

This should be enough to get you started!


For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

Answered by Anita FinkleBookmark and Share

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