Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration! Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as they provide valuable nectar resources to a diverse suite of bees and butterflies. For a brief how-to flyer on planting and gardening, download MJV's Gardening for Monarchs.
Adult monarchs will drink the nectar of many flowers in addition to milkweed; in fact they need sources of nectar to nourish them throughout the entire growing season. Include a variety of native flowering species with different bloom times to provide monarchs with the food they need to reproduce in the spring and summer and to migrate in the fall. Offering a wide array of native nectar plants will attract monarchs and many other butterflies and pollinators to your habitat all season long.
Find appropriate native monarch nectar plants for your region using the Xerces Society's Monarch Nectar Guides. You can also check with local native plant nurseries or greenhouses for their recommendations of good pollinator plants for your area.
The Xerces Society has launched a Milkweed Seed Finder database to make locating seeds in your state easier. Search for seeds in your state and contact the native plant nurseries that are listed to order milkweed seeds or plugs, then get planting! We recommend calling ahead to check availability of milkweed plants at the nurseries of your choice, as inventory can vary through the course of a season and from year to year.
Visit Monarch Watch’s Milkweed Market or directory of milkweed vendors to find native milkweed seeds and plants available in your region. The Milkweed Market offers flats of milkweed plugs (plants) that were grown from seeds sent to Monarch Watch by volunteers from across the country. Order plants grown from the seeds that were collected in your region, and make sure to collect and send seeds from your area to Monarch Watch next year.
For those of you in the desert southwest, the Southwest Monarch Study has a resource on their website with desert southwest milkweed providers and also provides more detailed information on establishing Monarch Waystations in this region.
If you live in the Western US, the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History has free milkweed and nectar plant seeds available on their website.
Sow milkweed seeds by scattering them on the soil surface 1/4-1/2 inch apart, and then cover with about 1/4 inch of additional soil. Water frequently after planting until plants become established. Many species need to be vernalized (cold treated) before planting. See Monarch Watch's milkweed propagation guide for recommendations on growing milkweed. Vernalized seeds can be planted in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Non-vernalized seeds can be planted in the fall, and nature will provide the cold treatment.
Plugs can be placed directly into the ground. First, dig a small hole to fit the roots and soil of the potted milkweed plug/plant that you have. Place the plant plug into the hole so that the roots are entirely covered and the stem and leaves of the plant are above ground. Spread remaining soil from the hole around the plant and gently pack it down. Water frequently after planting until the plant becomes established. Plugs can be planted in the spring or summer.