Monarch butterflies have particular habitat needs that revolve around the proper larval host (milkweeds) and nectar plants. If you live in Florida, it’s important to plant native host and nectar plants for the monarchs as well as other wildlife.
The other day I saw two monarchs mating or breeding in the grass in my front yard. I have several milkweeds growing in my backyard in my butterfly gardens.
One of the most common milkweeds sold in Florida is the Scarlet milkweed, which is actually native to South America. Although it’s not listed as invasive at this time, some scientists are worried Scarlet Milkweed Asclepias curassavica or tropical milkweed may become a nuisance in Florida.
Monarch (Danaus plexippus) should thrive by visiting the 21 native milkweed species in Florida. A lovely orange and black butterfly, the monarch from the Nymphalidae family and the subfamily, Danainae, is struggling with a loss of habitat. That’s why creating a butterfly garden for monarchs is so important.
Monarchs must have milkweed which puts cardenolide aglycones in their systems so they are poisonous to predators.
Warning: It’s especially important to avoid planting (in your butterfly garden) the Cynanchum Asclepias, a type of swallow-worts that has similar chemical properties to milkweeds. Do not plant Cynanchum Asclepias which tricks monarchs into laying their eggs on them, but prevents the caterpillars from developing.
Here is a list of Native Florida Larval Host Plants for Monarchs:
Curtiss’ milkweed (Asclepias curtisii)
Savannah milkweed (Asclepias pedicellata)
Fewflower milkweed (Asclepias lanceolata)
Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) (pink flowering or white flowering)
Longleaf milkweed (Asclepias longifolia)
Here is a list of Native Florida Nectar Plants for Monarchs:
White vine (Sarcostemma clausum)
Green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis)
Whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)
Native Nectar Plants for Monarchs in South Florida
Goldenrod (Solidago fistulosa, odora var. chapmanii, sempervirens or stricta)
Mist flower (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Flat-topped golden rod (Euthamia caroliniana)
Yellow top (Flaveria linearis)
Cat’s tongue (Melanthera nivea)
Crownbeard (Verbesina virginica)
Spanish needles (Bidens alba or bipinnata)
Blazing star (Liatris garberi, gracilis, or chapmanii)
Climbing aster (Symphyotrichum carolinianum)
False blazing star (Carphephorus corymbosus)
Hempvine (Mikania cordifolia)
Scorpiontail (Heliotropium angiospermum)
If you aren’t sure where to find the native nectar and host milkweed plants for monarchs in your butterfly garden, try the Florida Native Plants nursery in Sarasota, Florida. I’ve purchased a number of native plants from the nursery including mist flower and golden rod. If you live outside Florida, make sure to visit a native plant nursery in your area for the best advice on native milkweeds and saving the monarch population.
University of Florida extension, “Native Habitats”
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