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Ready to Plant

Copy of IMG 9405 Laura Lukens

Planting habitat is the best way to support monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Good monarch habitat includes both milkweeds for caterpillars and nectar sources for adults throughout the season. Monarch habitat can be added in a variety of areas, but the specific steps for planting and maintenance may differ depending on the type of site. The following steps apply to most pollinator-friendly plantings:

  1. Identify the site: Think about where to locate the site. Many pollinator-friendly plants need full sun.
  2. Site preparation: For best results, make sure the site is clear of other vegetation.
  3. Selecting and buying plants/seeds: Get seeds that are sourced locally and focus on native species.
  4. Planting: Planting techniques will depend on site size and whether you will use plugs or seeds.
  5. Maintenance: Ensure the long-term success of your site by having a maintenance plan.

For more information on each of these steps, check out our project-specific recommendations and planting guides below.

Garden Projects

Are you looking to garden for butterflies and other pollinators? Backyards, schoolyards, and public spaces are all great places for a pollinator garden. For planting a garden, we recommend using plugs or seedlings because these have the best chance of establishment.

For more information on how to plant a garden, check out the MJV's Gardening for Monarchs handout.

Large Restorations

Do you have a larger area you would like to convert into monarch habitat? From smaller pocket prairies to larger-scale restorations, these natural monarch habitats can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Natural area plantings usually require some additional site preparation and management, but the results can be incredible.

Read more about how to plant a large-scale restoration on MJV's Healthy Habitat for Monarchs handout.

Enhancing an Existing Site

Many existing plantings currently lack sufficient resources for monarchs and other pollinators. Fortunately, there are a few easy steps that can be taken to improve the overall quality of the habitat.

  1. Consider what you already have. How many flowering species are present at your site, and do their bloom periods cover the entire breeding season for monarchs? Is there already milkweed at your site? Aim to fill in gaps in the blooming period so that pollinators have food all season long.
  2. Draw up a management plan. Many plantings can benefit from more systematic and planned management activities. If it has been more than 5 years since the last burn or full site mow, set up a plan to make it happen. Are there any invasive species at the site? Gather up a team of people to go remove weeds, or in some cases, spot-spray herbicides to remove undesirable species.
  3. Adding species to an existing site can be difficult because the established species have a leg up. In most cases, plugs offer the best chance of success because they have already developed root systems and will not as easily be outcompeted. If you want to plant seeds, it is best to start with a full-site burn or mow. Seeding right after this intense disturbance will increase the likelihood of germination by increasing exposure to both the soil and sunlight.
  4. Add shelter for monarchs and other pollinators. Monarchs need areas where they can take shelter from wind and rain. Many native bee species use wood piles and dead trees to nest and overwinter. Consider leaving some of these features on your site.

Purchase live plants from the Monarch Joint Venture's Store