Plant Milkweed and Nectar Flowers for Monarchs

From: Monarch Joint Venture (

Just out!  This July 2022, the IUCN put the Migratory Monarch Butterfly on the Red List of endangered species.

From the World Wildlife Fund  (

Known for its bright orange colors and its incredible annual migration, the migratory monarch butterfly is now classified as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

During the last three decades, the eastern migratory monarch butterfly population has decreased by more than 80%, according to WWF monitoring reports. One of main drivers in the decline of the migratory monarch’s population is the use of herbicides in the U.S., resulting in a loss of milkweeds, essential for monarchs reproduction. Additionally, climate variations in North American during the summers of 2004 to 2018, affected both the presence of milkweed and the butterflies’ life cycle. Forest degradation in the butterfly’s Mexican reserve was once a concern but efforts toward sustainability and collaborations with local communities have kept this threat at bay.

With the monarch classified as Endangered, “The governments of Canada, the United States, and Mexico have the scientific basis to collaborate with conservation organizations, the private sector, and civil society in all the initiatives that seek to restore, conserve, and sustainably manage the ecosystems for the reproduction, migration, and overwintering of this emblematic species.”

In other words: We have the science, we have the answers; Now it is up to us to take action.”  Read more from the WWF HERE

Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed. Monarch caterpillars need milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.) to grow and develop, and female monarch butterflies monarchs2only lay their eggs on milkweed.  Much of our milkweed has been lost from our landscape due to changing land management practices such as urban and suburban development and agricultural intensification.  Historically milkweed has been viewed as a crop weed or a threat to livestock and has been eradicated.
Please plant milkweed native to your area and a wide variety of high-quality nectar-bearing flower species to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration!  Adult monarchs follow nectar corridors, a series of habitat patches of plants that flower at appropriate times during the spring and fall migrations.  They provide stopping-off points for the butterflies to feed and stock up during their long migrations.
Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as milkweed provides abundant, high-quality nectar or shelter for a diverse array of other insects, including nectar-seeking bees, flies, and butterflies, and such specialist herbivores as seed bugs, longhorn beetles, and leaf beetles. Native milkweeds are clearly worthy of broader adoption.  More than a hundred species of milkweeds (Asclepias) are native to North America and can be found in deserts, plains, valleys, foothills, open woods, and wetlands. Milkweeds typically grow in disturbed environments including agricultural areas, livestock pastures, ditches, and roadsides; indeed, in some areas, these marginal habitats are the only places where milkweed is regularly seen.
For an information fact sheet on the North American Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus) and its incredible migration please visit:
For great information about the history of tracking the Monarch Butterfly please visit:
To learn about the White House’s unprecedented alliance for bee and Monarch butterfly recovery

Milkweed Regions
There are many native milkweed species in MonarchZones
each of the six “Milkweed Regions” shown on this map. The species below are known
to be used by monarchs, and are easy to
To Purchase Seeds:
Western Region:  
Asclepias fascicularisMexican Whorled MilkweedDry climates and plains except CO, UT, AZ, NM
Asclepias speciosaShowy MilkweedSavannahs and Prairies
California Region:  
Asclepias fascicularisMexican Whorled Milkweed (Narrow-leaf)Dry climates and plains except CO, UT, AZ, NM
Asclepias speciosaShowy MilkweedSavannahs and Prairies
Asclepias erosaDesert MilkweedDesert regions
Asclepias californicaCalifornia MilkweedGrassy areas
Asclepias cordifoliaHeartleaf MilkweedRocky slopes
Asclepias VestitaWoolly MilkweedDry deserts and plains
Asclepias eriocarpaWoolly Pod MilkweedClay soils and dry areas
Arizona Region:
Asclepias tuberosaButterfly WeedWell drained soils
Asclepias asperulaAntelopehorn MilkweedDesert and sandy areas.
Asclepias subulataRush MilkweedDesert areas.
Asclepias angustifoliaArizona MilkweedRiparian areas and canyons
Southeast Region:  
Asclepias tuberosaButterfly WeedWell drained soils
Asclepias verticillataWhorled MilkweedPrairies and open areas.
Asclepias variegataWhite MilkweedPrairies and open areas.
Asclepias perennisAquatic MilkweedHydrated soils.
Asclepias humistrataSandhill/Pinewoods MilkweedFor use in some regions of FL.
Dry sandy areas and soils.
NE Region:  
Asclepias syriacaCommon MilkweedWell drained soils.
Asclepias incarnataSwamp MilkweedDamp, marshy areas.
Asclepias tuberosaButterfly WeedWell drained soils
Asclepias verticillataWhorled MilkweedPrairies and open areas.
Asclepias exaltataPoke MilkweedWoodland areas (except in
NE, KS, MO, ND & SD).
South Central Region:  
Asclepias viridisGreen Antelopehorn MilkweedDry areas and prairies.
Asclepias asperulaAntelopehorn MilkweedDesert and sandy areas.
Asclepias oenotheroidesZizotes MilkweedSandy/rocky prairies and fields.
Note:  Be careful to not purchase or plant tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica,  if you are in a temperate region.  These plants are becoming naturalized and are suspected in ‘luring’ overwintering monarchs into breaking their dormancy and becoming reproductive which can also spread parasites endangering the population further.
 To see what  milkweeds grow in your state: