Monarch Butterfly Friendly Gardens

by The Seeker Magazine Staff
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After plummeting over 90% in the last decade, the Monarch Butterfly population is showing signs of recovery. The decline due mostly to pesticides, habitat loss, and extreme weather gave concerned flower gardeners a strong reason to start planet Monarch Butterfly friendly garden.

Spring is a crucial time to start plans for a Monarch Butterfly friendly Garden. These little ones are tough (and smart) migrating to Mexico for their winter vacations. Spring is the time they will be heading back north to lay their eggs for the season. Since it only takes 3-5 days for eggs to hatch, timing is crucial. … A female will usually lay only one egg per milkweed plant to ensure enough food for each larva. Female Monarchs prefer young plants to lay their eggs which they do on the underside of the leaf.

They will need Milkweed to feed and lay eggs and nectar flowers to help nourish the weary butterflies heading north. By providing food and a pleasant place for larva/caterpillar for turning to pupa/chrysalis, then to beautiful butterfly (each period takes about 10 to 14 days), a mixture of both plants will help lay the groundwork for future flying beauties. 

A colorful Monarch Danaus Plexippus butterfly.

3 Starter Plants for Your Own Monarch Butterfly Friendly Garden.

1. Spider Milkweed (Asclepias Viridis)- This early milkweed variety makes a great garden border.

  • Perennial – USDA plant hardiness zones 5-9
  • Height 1 to 2.5 feet
  • Bloom time May- July
  • Purple/green blooms also attract other pollinators
  • Plant in full sun – drought tolerant

2. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)- Large, thick leaves that can sustain many monarch caterpillars. Great for bees too.

  • Perennial – USDA plant hardiness zones 4-9
  • Height 4-6 feet 
  • Bloom time June-August
  • Fragrant pink and white flowers
  • Plant in full sun – drought resistant
  • It can be invasive to use control tips when needed.

3. Siberian Wallflower (Erysimum x marshallii)- With an intoxicating aroma that attracts monarchs, other butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. 

  • Biennial – USDA plant hardiness zones 3-9
  • Height 1.5 to 2 feet
  • A good option for container gardening
  • Bloom time March-May
  • Vibrant orange flowers
  • Full sun to partial shade
Monarch Butterfly

Welcoming Monarch Friendly Garden

Butterfly gardeners refer to these top 3 plants as ‘Spring Monarch magnets,’ but they, of course, not the only options. Contact your local gardening shop and should be able to help you chose just the right Monarch Butterfly plants for your welcome home garden.

Source: monarchbutterflygarden.net & monarchwatch.org.

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