Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monarch Nectar Plants

What is the monarch butterfly's favorite food in Phoenix home gardens? Milkweed in bloom! So, be SURE to plant milkweeds - and you can see how beautiful they are in the previous post. It is amazing how many monarch and queen butterflies will appear when they are in bloom as well as other butterflies.

Now lets look at other nectar favorite choices. By far if you can only plant one other flower, plant Lantana.Maybe we get tired of seeing it everywhere, but butterflies of all kinds love it! Lantana is easy to grow and a low-water user. It blooms profusely in our summer heat and is a perennial most winters, although it can incur damage in a deep freeze. Lantana grows well in full or reflected sun. Plant several one gallon specimens close together for a mass planting to draw more butterflies. They seem to favor the orange and red varieties most, especially Lantana camari. Look for them at local garden stores and the plant sales at the Desert Botanical Garden and Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

 Whenever I am at the Desert Botanical Garden I usually find queen and monarch butterflies on Fernleaf Lavender.This specimen grows easily with little care and blooms in the Fall through Spring. There are different kinds of lavender available, but by far Fernleaf Lavender is the number one nectar choice. At the DBG queen and monarch butterflies (when they are in town) roost in trees nearby so they are nearby for a morning nectar drink before they cruise around other parts of the garden.

Baja Fairy Duster is another favorite. There is a pink fairy duster, but monarchs prefer the red only.
The plants are drought tolerant and they also draw hummingbirds and other butterflies. 

 Sunflowers of any kind are a monarch favorite! 

There are other nectar sources that will draw monarch butterflies to your yard when they are in town, but these are easy favorites to plant this year. When you plant milkweed and nectar sources, you are helping the monarch butterfly keep its migration.

How serious is their migration threatened? We'll go into more detail in the next post. Are we alarmists? We are facing the reality that is before us - before its too late.

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