WHY GROW MILKWEED?
Milkweed, a native plant with showy flowers, has finally found its place in the home garden. While not a weed at all, Milkweed has been steadily growing in popularity over the past several years for one great reason: it offers both food and habitat to some of our most important pollinators, including Monarch butterflies.
Can planting milkweed bring back the Monarch Butterflies?
Iconic Monarch Butterflies have been loved and celebrated in the USA for generations – they’ve even been bred in space by NASA astronauts! However, due to our changing modern landscape and the disappearance of milkweeds from the countryside, the American Monarch population has declined a drastic 90% over the past decade.
Milkweed is the sole ‘host plant’ for Monarch butterflies, meaning that it’s the only food source for growing Monarch caterpillars and the only plant where an adult monarch will lay her eggs. Planting milkweed is the most effective action any gardener can take to help increase the Monarch’s population once again.
Watch the Monarch Life Cycle in Action
How to Garden with Milkweed
Plant in Clusters of 3-7
Pollinators appreciate ‘block plantings’ - big swaths of their favorite plants are easier to find from above and allow them to spend their time and energy on what matters most - feeding!
Embrace Milkweed’s Wildness
Layer milkweed with other native plants, such as Bergamot and Coneflower to eliminate the “learning curve” in your backyard habitat.
Plant Milkweed Where You Can See it!
Because milkweed is often covered in dancing pollinators, you’ll want to place it directly outside a well-visited window or next to your favorite patio sitting spot.
Use Milkweed to Problem-Solve
Milkweed, like many native plants, can be used for ecological purposes, meaning that gardeners can use it as a tool when re-working tricky landscapes.
Create a Butterfly Garden or Monarch Waystation
Milkweed is the ‘host plant’ for Monarch Caterpillars, meaning that as their only food source, it’s the plant where the female butterfly will lay her eggs.
Attract Pollinators to the Veggie Garden
Because Milkweed attracts many more pollinators than just Monarchs, you can easily use it to guide these helpers straight to your veggie beds.
Milkweed Map & Monarch Migration Map
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Spring Monarch Migration
Fall Monarch Migration
Which Milkweed Is Right for Me?
Native to most states in the continental US, Butterfly Weed can be found growing wild in dry prairies and open meadows. Its vivid orange color and famed ability to attract butterflies has made it a new favorite in home gardens.
- Great for dry areas
- Bright and colorful
- Will not crowd out neighboring plants
Available in deep, rosy pinks and creamy whites, this variety comes with a pleasing vanilla aroma – you may want to plant it where you can smell it! Deer resistant and tolerant of wet soil, this milkweed makes a great addition to a rain garden.
- Great for damp areas
- Available in deep-rosy pink and creamy white
- Carries a vanilla fragrance
Common Milkweed does well in average to poor soils and attracts a multitude of pollinators. Pinkish-purple flowers appear delicate alongside the plant’s thick stem and light-green pods, making for a unique, native addition to the ornamental flower garden.
- Tall plant, 3-4 ft. tall
- Delicate pinkish blooms
- Pods provide visual interest year-round
While most milkweeds require full sun, Whorled Milkweed will manage on a bit less if that’s your only option. Use Whorled Milkweed to provide late-season food to butterflies who are already visiting your mid-season flower patch.
- Unique, ‘whorled’ foliage
- Can tolerate poor and dry soils
- Late season bloomer
Or Grow Your Milkweed From Seed
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is the famous orange milkweed species native from Canada to Florida. Needs fast-draining soil and full sun. Perennial...Learn MoreButterfly Weed Seeds Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosaAs low as $4.95Per PacketButterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is the famous orange milkweed species native from Canada to Florida. Needs fast-draining soil and full sun. Perennial
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Milkweed is one of the Monarch Butterflies’ favorite plants and will br...Learn MoreCommon Milkweed Seeds Common Milkweed Asclepias syriacaAs low as $4.95Per PacketCommon Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love. Milkweed is one of the Monarch Butterflies’ favorite plants and will bring many winged friends to your garden or meadow. It can be a challenge to grow but once established it will thrive for years to come and spread quickly. Perennial.
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is a showier variety of Common Milkweed. It is extremely elegant, producing willowy foliage and pink blooms. It will also attract beautiful butte...Learn MoreSwamp Milkweed Seeds Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnataAs low as $4.95Per PacketSwamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) is a showier variety of Common Milkweed. It is extremely elegant, producing willowy foliage and pink blooms. It will also attract beautiful butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden or meadow. Perennial.
Similar to Common Milkweed in looks, Showy Milkweed has soft, pastel pink flower clusters with longer petals. This sun-loving asclepias grows well in dry, fast-draining soil and requ...Learn MoreShowy Milkweed Seeds Showy Milkweed Asclepias speciosa$5.95Per PacketSimilar to Common Milkweed in looks, Showy Milkweed has soft, pastel pink flower clusters with longer petals. This sun-loving asclepias grows well in dry, fast-draining soil and requires little supplemental water once established. A prolific and important nectar source for Monarch butterflies, bees, and other beneficial bugs. Re-seeds readily. (Asclepias speciosa)
Getting Your Milkweed in the Ground
Planting milkweed from seed is a great option if you’re looking to create a large patch, or if timing is on your side! Fall-planting milkweed seeds directly in the garden is easy to do and often brings the best results; but you must wait until the cold weather has set in.
Starting milkweed in seed trays for transplanting can be tricky, as the seeds will first need to be exposed to a full month of cold temperatures in order to sprout, and the long taproot that forms hates to be moved.
When spring-planting is your preferred schedule, Milkweed plants are your best bets. Without the worry over the fussy temperatures that seeds require, you can just choose your favorite varieties and set them in the soil once the ground has warmed up.
Look for ‘neonicotinoid-free’ Milkweed to be certain that your plants don’t contain harmful pesticides, and you’ll be providing a high-quality food source for monarch butterflies, native bees, and other important pollinators.
Our Monarch Magnet Preplanned Garden features 3 each of our most attention-getting milkweed plants to attract and support monarchs throughout their life cycle; bright-orange Butterfly Weed and deep-pink Swamp Milkweed Soulmate.
Planted alongside 12 other nectar-powerhouse flowers that adult monarchs visit to drink their nutrients (including Coneflower, Aster, and Daisy) this garden makes it easy to attract and support monarchs throughout their lifespan. Includes planting diagrams and instructions.