Attracting monarch butterflies to a garden is fun. It proves how interconnected everything is on this earth. Just like most other species, adult butterflies need to eat nectar, and their caterpillars need plants to eat. Each type of butterfly lays its eggs on specific leaves. For the monarch - this food source is any variety of milkweed (Asclepias spp.). You will want to pick the type of milkweed native to your local area - and your native plant society or agriculture extension office can help you select the right kind.
We have included several milkweed varieties in the Kapp and Kappy garden including Giant milkweed, and Scarlet milkweed to keep our monarch caterpillar population happy. Most of it came from Biosphere Nursery. Since we are located in Florida, our butterflies visit most months of the year. We also have some planted native red salvia, blue salvia, mexican flame vine and other nectar plants for the butterflies. We also try to keep some moist spots in the ground where the butterflies can drink water.
Learn more about the monarch butterflies and their host plants here:
- Biosphere Nursery:http://www.biospherenursery.com/
- Florida Native Plant Society: http://www.fnps.org/
- Monarchs and Milkweed: http://monarchjointventure.org/news-events/news/qa-about-research-related-to-tropical-milkweed-and-monarch-parasites
- Save Our Monarchs - http://www.saveourmonarchs.org - consider giving milkweed seeds at weddings!
One thing to remember when you plant this is that milkweed is a FOOD source - it will get eaten! And it will look like it. If you want your garden to remain pretty even while the milkweed is chewed down to the stems, then you will want to plant the milkweed in between other plants whose leaves are not a food source. At Kapp & Kappy, we inter plant giant red pentas or red salvia with milkweed and other pollinator attracting flowers.