The flowers and plants in your garden not only look pretty, they have an important job. As the habitat to many creatures, your garden provides the essential nutrients for survival and reproduction. Adult monarchs like to sip nectar from flowers and liquid from some fruits, but their caterpillars or larvae, require food from the milkweed plant to survive. When you have a healthy monarch habitat, all pollinators benefit.
Caterpillars eat the foliage of their host plant, so you may see bite marks in the leaves. That is a good sign that they are getting the nutrients needed to make their transformation. When planting milkweed in your garden, include the plants native to your area. In a sunny area, scatter the seeds on the soil about 1/2 inch apart, and then cover with an additional 1/4 inch of soil. Some species need to be cold treated before planting, so be sure to check before you begin. Water your plants and add mulch to preserve moisture.
Additionally, in your garden, plant a variety of flowers to bloom continually from early spring to fall. Different pollinators are attracted to different types of flowers, so provide a variety of shapes and colors. Cluster your plants close together so the pollinators can find them quickly. Avoid planting modern hybrids with "doubled" flowers, as pollen, nectar, and scent can be lost in the cultivation process.
Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden. Aside from killing important weeds and insects, many of these chemicals have been shown to cause a number of health-related problems, from Alzheimer's disease to cancer. Instead, look for safer, alternative methods.
Make your space enjoyable for you and all the pollinators that help our ecosystem thrive.