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