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Monarch on milkweed shutterstock.com/Nancy Bauer

What kind of milkweed should you plant to help monarchs?

In the spring, monarchs begin a long journey north from Mexico to Canada. These butterflies rely on milkweed—the only plant on which monarchs lay their eggs and the only source of food for baby caterpillars—for survival along the way. But urban planning and agricultural expansion have paved and plowed over millions of acres of milkweed. You can help these amazing butterflies by planting the right species of milkweed at home.

Your region is

1. Know your milkweed. Different species of milkweed thrive in different parts of the country. Plant these milkweed species to support monarchs:


Milkweed regions

1. Know your milkweed. Different species of milkweed thrive in different parts of the country. Select a region from the map to learn what species of milkweed you can plant to help save monarchs.

Woman choosing flowers JMichl/WWF-US

2. Find your milkweed.. Find a nursery or other plant retailer in your area with the right kinds of milkweed, or buy milkweed directly from Monarch Watch. To help as many monarchs as possible, plant a variety of milkweed as well as other plants that provide adult monarchs with nectar. For example, choose plants that bloom at different times of the year to help monarchs as they fly north in the spring and then later in the fall as they return south.

Shovel and dirt Marcie Cheatham/WWF-US

3. Plant your milkweed. The plants should come with instructions. If not, check out these tips to make the most of your monarch waystation. For example, make sure your milkweed is planted in as much sunlight as possible and shield it from wind.

Boy looking at monarch catepillar on milkweed Dan Rossini/WWF-US

4. Show us your milkweed. We want to know what you planted. Tell us how much milkweed you’re growing and check out where other Squad members are planting. Send us pictures by email monarchsquad@wwfus.org or via Twitter and Instagram, @world_wildlife, with the hashtag #WWFSquad. We’ll check back in with you in a couple of weeks and ask you to report back if you’ve planted milkweed. The more you plant, the more excited others will be to follow in your footsteps.

Please note that if your picture includes children under the age of 18, by emailing WWF or using the hashtag, you grant WWF permission to use that image and represent that you have the authority to grant that permission on behalf of all pictured children.

Want to do more for monarchs? Sign up for the Monarch Squad today!

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Northeast Region Milkweed Species

Common and Scientific Names Ground Features
Common Milkweed
(Asclepias syriaca)
Well-drained soil
Swamp Milkweed
(Asclepias incarnate)
Damp, marshy areas
Butterfly Milkweed
Asclepias tuberosa
Well-drained soil
Whorld Milkweed
(Asclepias verticillata)
Prairies and open areas
Poke Milkweed
Asclepias exaltata
Woodland areas

South-Central Region Milkweed Species

Common and Scientific Names Ground Features
Green Antelopehorn Milkweed
(Asclepias viridis)
Dry and prairie areas
Antelopehorns Milkweed
(Asclepias asperula)
Desert and sandy areas
Zizotes Milkweed
(Asclepias oenotheroides)
Sandy/rocky prairies and fields

Southeast Region Milkweed Species

Common Name and Scientific Names Ground Features
Butterfly Weed
(Asclepias tuberosa)
Well-drained soils
Whorled Milkweed
(Asclepias verticillata)
Prairies and open areas
White Milkweed
(Asclepias variegate)
Thickets and woodlands
Aquatic Milkweed
(Asclepias perennis)
Hydrated soils
Sandhill/Pinewoods Milkweed
(Asclepias humistrata)
Dry sandy areas and soils, Florida

Western Region Milkweed Species

Common Name and Scientific Names Ground Features
Mexican Whorled Milkweed
(Asclepias fascicularis)
Dry climates and plains, except CO, UT, NM, and AZ
Showy Milkweed
(Asclepias speciose)
Savannahs and prairies

Arizona Milkweed Species

Common Name and Scientific Names Ground Features
Butterfly Milkweed
(Asclepias tuberosa)
Well-drained soils
Antelopehorns Milkweed
(Asclepias asperula)
Desert and sandy areas
Rush Milkweed
(Asclepias subulata)
Desert areas
Arizona Milkweed
(Asclepias angustifolia)
Riparian areas and canyons

California Milkweed Species

Common Name and Scientific Names Ground Features
Mexican Whorled Milkweed
(Asclepias fascicularis)
Dry climate and plains
Showy Milkweed
(Asclepias speciosa)
Savannahs and prairies
Desert Milkweed
(Asclepias erosa)
Desert regions
California Milkweed
(Asclepias californica)
Grassy areas
Heartleaf Milkweed
(Asclepias cordifolia)
Rocky slopes
Woolly Milkweed
(Asclepias vestita)
Dry deserts and plains
Woolly Pod Milkweed
(Asclepias eriocarpa)
Clay soils and dry areas

Source: Monarch Joint Venture

The Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic programs that are working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect the monarch migration across the lower 48 United States.

*Alaska and Hawai'i are not included on this map because monarchs do not migrate to these states.