Native Plants for the Monarch Garden

Posted by Pam Todd on

by Stephanie Walquist

Many people want to pitch in and do their part to make sure that future generations of people can experience the wonder of Monarchs and all they represent as well as benefit from future scientific discoveries that are connected with these particular butterflies and all of the other aspects of our ecosystems.  

Here is a list which we hope will be helpful.  We are listing plants that we have available for our plant sale, but Wild Ones has an extensive list in its Wild for Monarchs Brochure.  



Milkweeds are the absolute musts for a Monarch garden.  Without these plants, there are NO Monarchs.  Plants in the Asclepias genus are the only ones that Monarch caterpillars have evolved to eat.  They cannot eat any other type of plant (e.g. they can't eat vinca, Rose of Sharon, Coneflowers, etc).  Only milkweed.  

  • Butterflyweed
  • Rose (or Swamp) Milkweed
  • Common Milkweed

Early Nectar Plants

We are considering plants that bloom in June, which is about the earliest time you might expect to see Monarchs.  Some flowering shrubs at this time are very  helpful. It is a hard time in native gardens, but there are some plants blooming at this time.  

  • Blue-eyed Grass 
  • Ohio Horsemint
  • Pale Coneflower (very important one to have)
  • Prairie Coreopsis
  • Wild Blue Phlox
  • Wild Columbine

Summer Nectar

This part of the season is pretty easy. The milkweed blooms are also beloved by Monarchs, so if you have those planted they will receive visitations from Monarchs for nectar and for egg-laying.

  • Downy Sunflower 
  • Marsh Blazing Star
  • Michigan Lily
  • Milkweeds
  • Purple Coneflower (very important plant to have)
  • Rattlesnake Master
  • Rough Blazing Star
  • Wild Bergamot

Fall Nectar

One of the most important things outside of planting milkweed we can do is to ensure plentiful fall nectar sources for Monarchs.  They need fuel not only to fly thousands of miles but also to gain fat in order to survive hibernating in the oyamil firs in Mexico.  This migratory generation is not reproductive until after their winter diapause.  

  • Aromatic Aster
  • Ironweed
  • Joe Pyeweed
  • New England Aster (a favorite!)
  • Showy Goldenrod
  • Stiff Goldenrod 

With the addition of some of these plants as well as others that we don't carry, all of our gardens collectively can help to make a positive and substantial impact on the Monarch population.

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