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How to Bring Monarch Butterflies Back to Your Yard and Garden

In past years we’ve seen lots of Monarch butterflies in our neighborhood, but we only saw one or two this past summer. What are some ways we can attract them to return?

monarch butterfly

Answer: There is something majestically beautiful about butterflies, especially the renowned Monarchs. The way they delicately flutter about captivates onlookers, filling them with a sense of tranquility. It is no wonder that many gardeners try to attract butterflies to their gardens—lovely flowers + flurrying butterflies = an alluring, blissful scene.

The best way to attract butterflies to your home is to fill your garden with both nectar and larval-host plants.

Nectar plants are targeted by adult butterflies as a food source. They feed on the nectar (and in doing so they help to pollinate your flowers). The best nectar plant options are brightly colored flowers that are native to your area. Ask your local nursery for recommendations. Common nectar plants, especially for Monarchs, include Dogbane, Aster, Purple Coneflower, Lantana, Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower), Ironweed, Butterfly bush, Marigold, Sedum, Joe-Pye Weed, Rough Blazing Star, Azaleas and Zinnia. For best results, make sure to add a variety of species with different bloom schedules for continuous bloom that will help keep butterflies grazing around your garden all season long.

Larval-host plants are essential in order to successfully bring more butterflies to your garden. They need larval-host plants upon which to lay their eggs. The host plant for Monarchs is Milkweed; Monarch caterpillars will feed only on milkweed plants. This larval-host plant contains cardiac glycosides, which help to protect Monarchs from predators. Great milkweed options include: Common milkweed—especially for large-scale gardens, Swamp milkweed—great for small gardens, Showy milkweed, Tropical milkweed and Butterfly weed. All are species of the genus Asclepias.

The population of Monarchs has drastically dwindled. It is important to help increase their population. With lots of milkweed and vibrant, native nectar plants of differing blooming cycles, your garden may attract these fluttering beauties to your home, creating a magnificent view.

Image: Korall
Create beautiful butterfly houses sure to attract new fluttering friends to your yard with the Project Download: Butterfly Houses.

Try the Seeds for a Butterfly Garden for great seed packets of annual flowers whose nectar will bring beautiful butterflies to your garden.

Want more than just butterflies fluttering around your yard? Check out Birdhouses You Can Build in a Day.

Learn key tips and techniques for creating a beautiful flower garden by downloading the Smart Gardening Techniques: Flower Gardening.

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