There’s a call out to gardeners to help the monarch butterfly by planting milkweed plants and other monarch butterfly plants. Monarch butterfly plants are common plants that are well-known to gardeners such as purple coneflower, goldenrod, and of course, milkweed. All of these monarch butterfly plants are available locally at most nurseries and there are sites online that are selling milkweed plants for just $1 to encourage us to help out.
I found out about the plight of monarch butterflies as I was reading “Garden Gate“ , one of my gardening magazines, and they mentioned the unfortunate situation of the beautiful monarch butterfly. Almost a year ago, in late January to early February 2010, Mexico experienced torrential rains that accounted for a high percentage of drownings of the monarch butterfly. The Monarch Watch Blog indicates that 0-80% of each monarch butterfly colony was lost during this timeframe. It’s difficult to track real numbers on these butterflies, but many areas in the United States reported no or a small percentage of returning monarch butterflies during the summer months in 2010. Monarch butterflies winter in Mexico before returning to the U.S. in late February through early March.
Several times this summer as I tended my gardens, I remember wondering where all the monarch butterflies were. Usually, I have quite a few monarch butterflies passing through my gardens but this summer, I didn’t see any. I have purple coneflowers as monarch butterfly plants.
As gardeners plan ahead for their spring gardening, I wanted to suggest some monarch butterfly plants to help encourage these beneficial butterflies to breed and feed on monarch butterfly flowers. Monarch butterfly plants are easy to find in most garden nurseries.
Monarch butterflies are beneficial to our gardens and they are not pests. They do not eat vegetable plants or fruits. Their diet is the milkweed family as a caterpillar and the nectar from certain milkweed plants as well as the purple coneflower or goldenrod as a butterfly.
Consider Monarch Butterfly Plants
For those of us who enjoy green gardening or planting for beneficial insects and birds, there’s a simple way to help and that’s to plant more monarch butterfly plants. The top three monarch butterfly plants that will attract these butterflies are milkweed, purple coneflower, and goldenrod.
The Top Monarch Butterfly Plants Are In The Milkweed Family
The most beneficial plants to the monarch butterfly is the milkweed family. The common milkweed (Asciepias syriaca) is the most beneficial. This particular milkweed plant is a host plant for the monarch butterfly which means that eggs are laid on this plant to grow and during the caterpillar stage the milkweed plant is its sole food source. What’s unfortunate is that this monarch butterfly plant is considered to be invasive in some states. You’ll need to check with your local nursery before planting these monarch butterfly plants.
The milkweed family has many species and another beneficial monarch butterfly plant is the commonly known butterfly weed (Asciepias tuberosa). The butterfly weed is also a host plant that is very attractive with yellow or orange flowers. It makes a nice contrast to any garden and is deer resistant. Rabbits, however, may dine on the plant. This is one of the milkweed plants that may not be considered invasive in your state. The butterfly weed plant is the most attractive of the monarch butterfly plants and you may want to purchase a few of these to encourage monarch butterflies to breed in your garden.
Monarch Butterfly Plants for Food
Just about any milkweed plant is a good food source for monarch butterflies. There is a website that sells milkweed plants for just over a dollar to help their plight. It’s called Live Monarch and to get to their site, just click on Live Monarch.
Purple coneflower is another good food choice for the monarch butterfly. A hardy plant that’s well known to gardeners, it’s also deer and rabbit resistant. The purple coneflower does well in Zones 3-9.
Goldenrod is another food choice, however, be careful with this plant. If you or someone you live with has allergies or hayfever, goldenrod may not be a good choice for your garden. Goldenrod is one of the top producers of a pollen that affects many hayfever sufferers. I am allergic to goldenrod and cannot have this plant in my gardens.
For more information on monarch butterfly plants and the plight of the monarch butterflies, you can click on any of my sources listed below.
Sources: Monarch Watch Blog
World Wildlife Fund
Mother Earth News
Gardening Gate Magazine, Issue #95