Milk Weed plants for Monarch Butterflys #296950 - Ask Extension


Milk Weed plants for Monarch Butterflys #296950

Asked January 15, 2016, 6:22 PM EST

As a butterfly lover, I'd like to see more milkweed plants as they are a favorite plant for the Monarch butterfly to lay their eggs on. Why was this not included in the native plants list and what do I need to be aware of if I plant a patch of milkweed plants, short of the 'weed' spreading beyond the patch I plan to grow them in? Also, which of the native plants listed in you list would you recommend besides the butterfly bush plant?

Montgomery County Maryland

Expert Response

The native plant list on our website is a basic list of reliable performers.
 A milkweed plant on the list is Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa.  There are three milkweeds native to Maryland: swamp milkweed (Ascelepias incarnata), common milkweed Asclepias syriaca), and butterflyweed or butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa).
Common milkweed likes dry soil, butterfly milkweed takes dry or medium moisture, and swamp milkweed likes medium to wet. You may have to look in native plant nurseries for sources for the other milkweeds.
Butterfly bush, Buddleja davidii is invasive and we do  not recommend planting it. The plant  self seeds and displaces desirable plants. 

Many of the other wildflowers and groundcovers on the list attract pollinators and other buttterfiles but you will have to match the plants to your site  sun/shade and consider  mature height and width of the plants.                                                             
If you want butterflies to breed in your garden you have to choose the appropriate plants with some knowledge of butterflies common to your area, as well as provide caterpillar host and nectar plants. See the attached link for more information on butterflies and gardening                                                mh                                           

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