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The Lowdown to Attract & Protect


Who doesn't love butterflies, right?  But most of us don't really know that there are do's and don'ts and easy ways that we can actually help the endangered monarch.  This page is designed to give you  the resources you need to create a happy butterfly space... as easy as 1, 2, 3!


Let's start with the basics...

Pick a Space

  • Pick a space for your butterfly (also called a "Pollinator Garden") garden.  It can be as small or as big as you want it to be, but if you're short on time, or just getting started, a smaller space will be best.  Think 10-20 sq ft....even 5 sq ft can be a huge help!

  • The picture on the left has a butterfly bush (some folks are against these as they aren't native and can spread, so clip off any dead flowers to avoid spreading seeds), Common Milkweed and unseen is native Coreopsis.  Easy breezy and that spot is always alive with butterflies...this is my mom's house, so I know ...


Pick Your Plants:
It's easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. Pick one variety of Milkweed: Common (better suited for a space to spread), Swamp (better idea if you want to keep it contained) or Butterfly Weed (shorter and more contained).  See 9 other varieties with pictures HERE.

  2. Pick two other nectar producing flowers.  On the "Butterfly Basics" page, we learned that butterflies need nectar (the food they eat) sources to survive.  To make your life easy, start by choosing two perennials that are sure to attract butterflies to your yard.  See a full list of choices HERE.


Bonus Tips:

  • Zinnias!  My butterflies love nothing more than zinnias!  Zinnias produce nectar every day, are annuals (must be planted each year), but will bloom (here in the midwest) from early summer until it frosts in the fall.  This provides an excellent nectar source for migratory monarchs!  Zinnias are perfect for pots on your porch, patio or balcony!

      Learn how to easily plant them HERE

  • Stop the broad use of pesticides in your yard and garden.  Pesticides are poison - make no mistake - and they kill indiscriminately.  You don't want to kill what you're trying to attract, right?

Ready to get started?  The next section is a recap on how easy it is to get started on making a monarch friendly garden.  If you have a yard, plant this stuff in the ground.  If you only have a patio, porch or balcony, put them in pots!  Many perennials will survive the winter when placed in a garage until spring.  
The last part of this page is additional resources if you want more information or more plant choices. You got this!
Pick 1 species of Milkweed

These are perennials; plant by seed in fall or by plant in spring.  Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs (lay their eggs on it and the caterpillars to eat it).

  • Common Milkweed

  • Swamp Milkweed

  • Whorled Milkweed

  • Butterfly Weed

  • Showy Milkweed

  • Purple Milkweed

  • AVOID: Tropical Milkweed

  • Pics and descriptions here!

Pick 2 Perennials

These are perennials; plant by seed in fall or by plant in spring.  These flowers are nectar sources for monarchs and other butterflies that you attract to your yard...and you will!

  • Echinacea/Purple Coneflower

  • Liatris/Blazing Star

  • Wild Bergamot

  • New England Aster

  • Spotted Beebalm

  • Spotted Joe Pye Weed

  • Some species of milkweed flower late enough to be an additional nectar source! 

  • Many more HERE!

Bonus Annual Picks

These are annuals, which means they need to be planted each year, after the last frost.  They are awesome sources of nectar!

  • Zinnias

  • Cosmos

  • Verbena

  • Mexican Sunflower

  • Lantana

  • Marigolds

Additional resources to find native flowers, helpful tips and ideas on how to get your butterfly garden started!

The National Wildlife Federation is the United States' largest private, nonprofit conservation education and advocacy organization.  They have great resources on how to create a backyard (or patio/balcony) habitat.



Scioto Gardens  Local nursery in Delaware County that has great native plant options and a knowledgeable staff



Groovy Plants Ranch is a family owned nursery in Marengo, Ohio.  You can find all kinds of native Ohio plants and other butterfly loving flowers!

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This is a comprehensive list of flowers, their growing requirements and the butterflies they attract (for Ohio)

Oakland Nurseries Local nursery in Columbus that has great native plant options and a knowledgeable staff


Wild Hare Prairie Nursery Local nursery in Clintonville specializing in native flowering plants.. Christy is great fun!

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