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Ready to Plant

Copy of IMG 9405 Laura Lukens

Planting habitat is the best way to support monarchs and other pollinators. Monarch habitat includes both milkweeds for caterpillars and nectar sources for adults throughout the season. Monarch habitats can be added in various areas, with the specific steps for planting and maintenance differing depending on the type of site. The following steps apply to most pollinator-friendly plantings:

  1. Identify the site: Think about where to locate the site. Many pollinator-friendly plants need full sun.
  2. Site preparation: For best results, make sure the site is clear of other vegetation.
  3. Selecting and buying plants/seeds: Choose plants and seeds sourced locally and focus on native species.
  4. Planting: Planting techniques will depend on your site size and whether you will use plugs or seeds.
  5. Maintenance: Ensure the long-term success of your site by having a maintenance plan.

For more information on each of these steps, check out our project-specific recommendations and planting guides below.

Habitat Project Guidance by Size

The size and location of your project will determine how you prepare, plant, and maintain your habitat. Below are helpful habitat guides based on the size of your habitat project. 

Container Projects

If you are short on space, you can add native plants to your front porch, deck, or patio. Our friends at Homegrown National Park have a great resource for container gardening with keystone plants native to your region. Learn more on their container gardening page

Garden Projects

Yards, schoolyards, and public spaces are great places to plant pollinator gardens. We recommend planting a garden using plugs or seedlings because these have the best chance of establishment.

For more information on how to plant a garden, check out the MJV's Gardening for Monarchs handout.

Large-Scale Restoration Projects

From smaller pocket prairies to large-scale restorations, these natural monarch habitats can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. Natural area plantings usually require additional site preparation and management, but the results can be incredible.

Read more about how to plant a large-scale restoration on MJV's How to Create Healthy Habitat for Monarchs handout.

Enhancing an Existing Site

Many existing plantings lack sufficient resources for monarchs and other pollinators. Fortunately, a few easy steps can improve the overall quality of the habitat.

  1. Consider what you already have. How many flowering species are present at your site, and do their bloom periods cover the entire breeding season for monarchs? Is there already milkweed at your site? Aim to fill in gaps in the blooming period, so pollinators have food from early spring through fall.
  2. Draw up a management plan. Many plantings can benefit from more systematic and planned management activities. If it has been more than five years since the last burn or entire site mow, set up a plan to make it happen. Are there any invasive species at the site? Gather up a team of people to go remove weeds or, in some cases, spot-spray herbicides to remove undesirable species.
  3. Adding species to an existing site can be difficult because established species have a leg up. In most cases, plugs offer the best chance of success because they have already developed root systems and will not be as easily outcompeted. If you want to plant seeds, it is best to start with a full-site burn or mow. Seeding right after this intense disturbance will increase the likelihood of germination by increasing exposure to both the soil and sunlight.
  4. Add shelter for monarchs and other pollinators. Monarchs need areas where they can take shelter from wind and rain. Many native bee species use wood piles and dead trees to nest and overwinter. Consider leaving some of these features on your site.

Use this map to find local suppliers of native, neonicotinoid-free plants and/or seeds. Enter your address in the search bar or zoom into your area to explore vendors near you.

If you are a plant vendor who sells native plants, milkweed species, and refrains from using systemic pesticides, you will be a great addition to our map! Fill out our vendor application form for consideration.