Nectar-rich flowers for Monarch butterflies.

For information on growing Milkweed for Monarch caterpillars (and also as a nectar source for the Monarch butterfly), please check the section on Milkweed.

Here’s a partial list of some Nectar-rich Plants for Monarch butterflies (and other butterfly species too), with different bloom colors, plant heights, blooming periods, hardiness levels (annual vs perennial), growing habits and habitat needs (with some photos below):

Aster (several species)
Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
Blazing star (Liatris scariosa) - blooms from August
Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) - low, moist areas
Butterfly bush (Buddleia)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Coreopsis (yellow)
Cosmos (annual)
False dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana)
Flat-top goldentop (Euthamia graminifolia)
Goldenrod (several species)
Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
Joe Pye weed (looks like milkweed) (Eutrochium)
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis)
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Zinnia (annual)

Purple coneflowers - © Denise Motard
Purple coneflowers
Bee balm and Clearwing sphinx moth - © Denise Motard
Bee balm & Clearwing sphinx moth
Butterfly bush - © Denise Motard
Butterfly bush
Coreopsis - © Denise Motard
Cosmos - © Denise Motard
Heliotrope - © Denise Motard
Asters, photo by Hectonichus, Wikimedia
Asters, photo by Hectonichus
Purple coneflowers - © Denise Motard
Purple coneflowers
Yarrow - © Denise Motard
In addition to growing Monarch-friendly plants, it is important to provide 'shelter' plants for the caterpillars when they look for a spot to pupate (turn into a chrysalis). These caterpillars are NOT necessarily going to stay on the Milkweed plants they were feeding on when pupating.

Some of them can actually crawl up to 30 feet (10 meters) away! What they need is a hiding spot where they will be safe during their chrysalis stage, which can last from 10 to 20 days. During that time, they are highly vulnerable because they can't move. Shrubs with broad leaves such as Lilac, or vines such as pole beans near Milkweed would be one good option.

The first generation of adult Monarchs on Prince Edward Island arrives around the end of June. The last generation leaves the island starting at the end of August and into September, when goldenrods and asters are in bloom.

It is important to offer the butterflies a variety of nectar-rich flowers over that three-month period, in addition to the milkweed plants.

If you buy live plants please make sure they were not sprayed with harmful pesticides. The same goes for your own garden or space where you grow Milkweed and other butterfly-friendly plants. Here's a page on a potential accidental poisoning situation in my own garden.

When there’s a choice of single vs double flowers, the single ones will be easier for butterflies to reach the flower center for nectar.

Mud-puddling – although I haven’t seen this behavior in the Monarch butterfly, some butterfly species gather at mud puddles to drink and obtain salt minerals this way. Some will also drink from dung or even carrion for the same purpose.


You can have your garden certified as a 'Monarch Waystation', a program by Monarch Watch. The required criteria to be added to that registry mainly include growing Monarch-friendly plants without pesticides.