Want to start a garden to help Monarch butterflies and other beneficial insects? You don’t need a lot of space and only need five species to get started!
To be an official Monarch Waystation, your garden must be 100 square feet. That is only a 10 x 10 foot space. But it can be any size you have space for. You can even plant your seeds/flowers in pots! The most important part about space, is that it needs to be in the sun.
What is a host plant? Host plants are plants specifically eaten by insects. Monarch caterpillars only eat milkweed. Without milkweed, you will not get monarchs. Common Milkweed and Swamp Milkweed are regionally native species.
While host plants are food sources for caterpillars, nectar plants are food for butterflies. It is essential to have nectar plants that bloom throughout the season in your garden. Find flowers that bloom in June, ones that bloom in July, and ones that bloom from August through September. Beebalm, purple coneflower, mountain mint, Joe Pye-weed, and ironweed are excellent native species that will allow for blooming throughout the season.
Buy your plants from an organic nursery. Large companies unfortunately use pesticides which will kill insects. Online resources that will deliver plants and seeds right to your door are Prairie Moon Nursery and Prairie Nursery.