It's Time to Plant Milkweed

Here's How to Help the Monarchs

You've probably heard that you should plant milkweed to save the monarch butterflies.

But many people make this one common mistake when they buy milkweed plants for their garden—and inadvertently do more harm than good.

Here's the lowdown on choosing the right kind of milkweed, the secret to starting milkweed from seed successfully, and tips for growing milkweed in every region.

Growing milkweed is just one piece of the puzzle. To support the monarch butterfly population (as well as other pollinators), it’s important to plant other nectar-rich flowers in the garden that bloom at different times so adult monarchs have continuous food sources.

Showy annuals like zinnias and phlox are attractive to butterflies (as well as bees and hummingbirds). Growing a good variety of flowers helps sustain all the beneficial insects, adds beauty to your yard, and contributes to the overall health of the local ecosystem.

Equally important are perennials, especially native perennials like echinacea (coneflowers) and coreopsis, that can provide a constant and reliable source of food.

For perennials that do double duty as food for butterflies and food for you, consider planting flowering herbs like fennel, rosemary, sage, and oregano.

If you want to plant new milkweed, there are several species of native milkweed in the US. One of the most common, Asclepias tuberosa, is also known as butterflyweed. It’s native to most parts of the country (except the Northwest) and blooms in a brilliant orange or yellow.

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