Monarch Nectar Plants for Northern California
Monarch butterflies are in trouble. To help, plant milkweed and nectar plants that are native to your area and help reverse the fortune of these beautiful insects!
Magnificent with its orange wings laced with black lines and bordered with white dots, the monarch butterfly is in trouble. Its population in North America has plummeted by 90% in the last 20 years. Among the reasons for this decline are habitat loss and degradation, loss of milkweed from extensive herbicide use and climate change.
Famous for their seasonal migration, monarchs are the only butterflies known to make a two-way migration as birds do. Millions of monarchs migrate from the United States and Canada south to California and Mexico for the winter, flying as far as 3,000 miles to reach their winter home. In spring, they breed and lay the eggs of the new generation. This starts the northern journey back to North America. Successive generations make the journey north. It is important to protect and restore habitat across their entire range. Adult monarchs need diverse nectar sources for food during all stages of the year. Caterpillars are totally dependent on their milkweed host plants (Asclepias). Inadequate milkweed or nectar plant food sources may impact the number of monarchs that successfully arrive at overwintering sites in the fall. Providing milkweed and other nectar-rich flowers that bloom where and when monarchs need them is one of the most significant actions you can take to support monarch butterfly populations.
What You Can Do for Monarch butterflies and other Pollinators:
- Grow native flowering plants - Adapted to local soils and climates, native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees are usually the best sources of nectar and pollen for native pollinators. Most native plants require little irrigation, bloom without fertilizers, and are unlikely to become weedy.
- Plant in the sun - Your pollinator-friendly plants should receive full sun throughout most of the day. Butterfly adults generally feed only in the sun.
- Provide long-lasting blooms - Sustain pollinators throughout the seasons. Plant a variety of plants that flower at different times providing nectar and pollen sources throughout the growing season.
- Plant in groups - Clumps of flowering plants will attract more pollinators than single plants scattered in the landscape.
- No insecticides - Insecticides have the potential to poison or kill pollinators.
Here is a list of Northern California native plants that are very attractive to monarch butterflies and other pollinators. A simple, native flower garden will attract beautiful butterflies to your yard and help pollinators stay healthy.
Tristan Loper, Flickr
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.