monarch butterfly on a flower

15 Flowers That Attract Monarch Butterflies

As a devoted gardener, I have long been fascinated by the delicate yet resilient nature of the Monarch butterfly. Their annual migration and intricate life cycle inspire awe and admiration. By planting a garden filled with nectar-rich flowers, we can play an active role in preserving and nurturing these incredible creatures.

In this guide, we will explore a curated collection of flowers that have been proven to captivate and sustain Monarch butterflies throughout their journey. From the iconic Milkweed, the cornerstone of Monarch habitat, to a symphony of other blooms that offer abundant nectar, we will unlock the secrets to creating a butterfly paradise.

Why plant flowers for Monarch butterflies?

Planting flowers for Monarch butterflies allows us to play an active role in their conservation. The Monarch butterfly population has faced significant challenges in recent years, including habitat loss and declining food sources. By providing a garden filled with nectar-rich flowers, we create vital feeding stations for Monarchs during their arduous migration and breeding seasons. Our efforts contribute to their survival and help sustain their awe-inspiring annual journey.

Beyond their inherent beauty, Monarch butterflies serve as important pollinators. As they flutter from flower to flower in search of nectar, they inadvertently transfer pollen, enabling plants to reproduce and ensuring genetic diversity. By planting flowers specifically selected to attract Monarchs, we are supporting pollination processes, benefiting our entire garden, and promoting a healthy ecosystem.

The joy of witnessing Monarch butterflies in our gardens is truly unparalleled. These delicate creatures, with their distinctive orange and black wings, evoke a sense of wonder and enchantment. Their graceful flight and delicate interactions with the flowers remind us of the intricate connections between nature and ourselves. By planting flowers that attract Monarchs, we create an opportunity to observe and appreciate their beauty up close, forging a deeper connection with the natural world.

Creating a butterfly-friendly garden goes beyond the allure of Monarchs alone. By cultivating flowers that attract these iconic butterflies, we inadvertently create a haven for other pollinators as well. Bees, hummingbirds, and various other butterflies will flock to our garden, enhancing its biodiversity and contributing to the overall health of our ecosystem. It is a testament to the interconnectedness of all living beings and the profound impact we can have as stewards of our natural surroundings.

15 native flowers that attract Monarch butterflies

Monarch butterflies are particularly attracted to nectar-rich flowers that provide them with a reliable food source during their long migrations and breeding seasons. Here are some flowers that are known to attract and support Monarch butterflies:

  1. Milkweed (Asclepias spp.): Milkweed is the primary host plant for Monarch butterflies. It is essential for their caterpillars, as they exclusively feed on milkweed leaves. Additionally, milkweed flowers provide nectar for adult Monarchs.
  2. Butterfly Bush (Buddleja spp.): Butterfly Bush, also known as Buddleja, is a popular choice for attracting Monarchs and various other butterfly species. Its large, cone-shaped flower clusters produce abundant nectar that Monarchs find irresistible.
  3. Zinnia (Zinnia spp.): Zinnias are vibrant, easy-to-grow annual flowers that produce nectar-rich blooms in various colors. Monarchs are attracted to their bright hues and plentiful nectar supply.
  4. Coneflower (Echinacea spp.): Coneflowers, with their striking daisy-like blooms, are highly attractive to Monarch butterflies. They provide abundant nectar and serve as a visual beacon in the garden.
  5. Lantana (Lantana camara): Lantana is a versatile flowering plant that comes in a range of colors and produces small, clustered blooms. Its nectar-rich flowers are a favorite of Monarchs, and they also attract other butterfly species.
  6. Aster (Aster spp.): Asters, with their daisy-like flowers, are not only beautiful but also excellent sources of nectar for Monarchs. They bloom in late summer and fall, providing crucial sustenance during the butterflies’ migratory journey.
  7. Goldenrod (Solidago spp.): Goldenrod is a late-season bloomer that offers abundant nectar when many other flowers have faded. Its yellow clusters of flowers are particularly attractive to Monarchs.
  8. Marigold (Tagetes spp.): Marigolds are vibrant annual flowers that produce plentiful nectar. They are not only visually appealing but also a great addition to a butterfly garden.
  9. Verbena (Verbena spp.): Verbena flowers, with their clusters of tiny blooms, are highly attractive to Monarch butterflies. They provide abundant nectar and come in various colors.
  10. Bee Balm (Monarda spp.): Bee Balm, also known as Bergamot, is a perennial flower that produces showy, tubular blooms. Its bright colors and rich nectar make it a magnet for Monarchs and other pollinators.
  11. Phlox (Phlox spp.): Phlox flowers come in a range of colors and are known for their fragrant blossoms. They are adored by Monarchs and other butterflies, offering ample nectar.
  12. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.): Black-eyed Susan, with its striking golden-yellow petals and dark centers, is a favorite of Monarch butterflies. Its abundant nectar and sturdy growth make it a reliable choice.
  13. Sedum (Sedum spp.): Sedums, also known as stonecrop, are succulent plants that produce clusters of small, star-shaped flowers. They bloom in late summer and fall, attracting Monarchs with their nectar.
  14. Ironweed (Vernonia spp.): Ironweed is a native perennial known for its deep purple flowers. It is a favorite of Monarchs, providing them with a rich source of nectar during their migrations.
  15. Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.): Joe-Pye Weed, as discussed earlier, is highly attractive to Monarch butterflies. Its tall stature, pink to purplish-pink flower clusters, and abundant nectar make it a must-have in butterfly gardens.

Other ways to help

While planting flowers is a powerful way to attract Monarch butterflies, there are additional actions you can take to create an inviting environment for them. Here are some other ways to attract Monarchs besides planting flowers:

Provide Host Plants: Monarch butterflies require specific host plants for their caterpillars to feed on. The most well-known host plant is milkweed (Asclepias spp.), which is crucial for Monarch reproduction. By including milkweed in your garden, you provide a vital habitat for Monarch caterpillars to thrive. Different species of milkweed are native to various regions, so choose the appropriate variety for your location.

Create Habitat Diversity: Monarchs, like other wildlife, benefit from a diverse habitat. Incorporate a variety of plants, including trees, shrubs, and grasses, to create different layers and niches within your garden. This diversity provides shelter, nesting sites, and additional food sources beyond flowers.

Avoid Pesticides: Pesticides, including insecticides and herbicides, can harm not only target pests but also beneficial insects like Monarch butterflies. Minimize or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides in your garden to create a safer environment for Monarchs and other pollinators.

Provide Water Sources: Like all living creatures, butterflies need water. Create shallow water sources, such as birdbaths or shallow dishes filled with water and stones, to serve as butterfly watering stations. These sources offer a safe place for Monarchs to drink and bask in the sun.

Provide Shelter: Monarchs seek shelter from weather extremes and predators. Incorporate elements like shrubs, tall grasses, or butterfly houses in your garden to provide protective cover for butterflies and their offspring.

Create Sunspots: Monarchs, like most butterflies, require sunlight to warm their bodies and energize themselves. Design your garden with open, sunny areas where butterflies can bask and gather energy.

Participate in Citizen Science: Engage in citizen science initiatives such as tagging Monarch butterflies or reporting sightings. These activities contribute to ongoing research and conservation efforts, helping scientists track Monarch populations and migration patterns.

Support Conservation Organizations: Consider supporting local or national organizations dedicated to Monarch butterfly conservation. These organizations work to protect habitats, conduct research, and promote awareness of Monarch conservation issues. Donations, volunteer work, or advocacy can all make a difference.

By combining these efforts with the planting of flowers, you can create a holistic and inviting space for Monarch butterflies. Your actions will contribute to their survival, promote biodiversity, and foster a deeper connection with the natural world around you.

Thomas Nelson
Gardening Expert
Hi! I'm Thomas, one of the founders of The Garden Magazine. I come from a long line of gardeners who used the art of gardening as a way to live long, healthy lives. I'm here to share my knowledge of gardening with the world!