Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Plants that feed monarch butterflies and caterpillars...
April 01, 2018
"Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." (Leo Tolstoy). Except when it comes to the Monarch butterfly! I had the great pleasure of seeing more than one life cycle of these beautiful creatures in my east coast garden starting late July, 2015. Back then, as a recent home owner "having a go" at my second season in the garden, I let things grow just to see what they might become. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I naively let some native milkweed (Asclepias Syriaca) grow because I had no idea what it was but intuitively felt that it might have some significance. I purposefully selected butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa...one of my favorite plants)...and some swamp milkweed (Asclepias Incarnata) and, another favorite, Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium Purpureum) in order to attract some winged friends. Well, leaving that tall plant with the oval leaves seemed to be the ticket to attracting a lot of butterfly activity. All of the other plants I selected (shown below in photos from my garden) gave support to the various life-stages of the Monarch. I've enjoyed raising butterflies so much that they've inspired my latest collection of Monarch greeting cards, notepads and stationery! A couple of my go to websites to learn how to raise Monarchs are: Texas Butterfly Ranch and Monarch Butterfly Garden
This photo is of the native, common milkweed that I left undisturbed. You can see where the caterpillars have enjoyed a bit of the leaf. Over the past couple of seasons, it's shown itself in other areas of the garden and I guard it from our visiting deer by putting a circle of fencing around it. In June, it produces the most beautifully fragrant flower! I wish the fragrance could be bottled because I would wear it!
Asclepias tuberosa below is ideal for monarch caterpillars to munch on. I personally love the orange variety.
Last but not least, here is Joe Pye Weed....The adult butterfly loves this plant!
Stay tuned for more Monarch butterfly photos and tips on raising them!