Wildflowers give nectar & aid to Monarch Butterfly
Monarchs depend upon milkweeds, wet earth and sunshine
Butterflies & pollenator insects drink from moist rocks and sand- we call this “puddling”.
A Butterfly Sanctuary will diminish stormwater & erosion
Ornamental prairie grass & flowers filter water runoff from the street & backyard.
This Wet-Land-Scape design is labeled “Butterfly Basin”
Above, Butterfly Basin prevents lawns from sliding into a pond, while filtering the water below.
This butterfly sanctuary is for sandy-loam soil; Living Waters installed a geo-textile inlay for extreme erosion control.
- We choose grasses and wildflowers around ponds for their deep, fibrous roots.
- Using native grasses and wildflowers eliminates monthly maintenance & reduces carbon.
- This means longer roots to filter more stormwater run-off and pollution that flows into ponds.
- Starting at $9999, Living Waters Wet-Land-Scape designs include Raparian Riff, Prairie Fen, and Goldfinch Glade (new!)
We Manage to Reduce Maintenance & Chemicals
Pink Swamp Milkweed
Your favorite milkweed is essential for a Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary; these plants are a Monarch caterpillars’ only food.
This perennial clumping type will bloom in late summer.
Also called Rose Milkweed, this type thrives in wet soil.
Smooth Blue Aster
A cherished native perennial, the Smooth Blue Aster will bloom aplenty to provide Monarchs with early Autumn nectar.
Researchers believe asters may help reverse the decline of Monarch Butterflies.
Indian Blanket Flower
This annual and other native Spring bloomers, according to researchers, go great with perennial milkweeds.
Indian Blanketflower thrives in normally dry soils.
It is popular to sew from seed for butterfly sanctuaries.
The long-blooming Button Bush can be kept as shrubs or pruned into small trees.
It tolerates many soils.
For two Summer months, Button Bush will produce nectar-laden globeflowers to feed myriads of pollenators.
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The Essential Monarch Butterfly Garden
Many researchers suggest that concerned butterfly gardeners plant a “Monarch Waystation“. A waystation is a flower garden 100 square feet or greater, and contains 10 or more milkweed plants. Full sun is the best for butterfly sanctuary gardens, and full morning sun is second-best. The rest of the butterfly garden should be filled with suitable forage flowers for Spring, Summer and Fall. The Monarchs will arrive at the end of March if your garden produces suitable nectar blossoms.
Attract the Migratory Monarchs with native Spring flowers- so for rain-gardens or clay soils, try meadow-rue, nodding wild onion, or Golden Alexanders: include Chives and Rose (Pink Swamp) Milkweed. In well-drained beds, Spider Antelopehorn Milkweeds pair with Spring-blooming sages (e.g. Purple Salvia) and Indian Blanketflower, plus popular non-natives Sweet Assylum and Erysimum. In the Spring, Monarchs search for milkweed not in bloom.
Summer choices abound with Liatris, Coneflowers, Monarda and Verbena being just a few of the Monarch’s favorite nectar flowers. Best non-natives include Cosmos, Lantana, Lavender, Marigold and Zinnia. Some other summer favorites are Button Bush, Clovers, Coreopsis, Hibiscus, Joe Pyeweed, Sedum, and Sunflower. And every species of milkweed ends or begins blooming at a different time in the summer-so milkweeds are a source of nectar as well as being the exclusive larval host.
When the prolific summer blossoms fade, Monarchs of the Autumn months forage on the nectars of Asters, Goldenrods and late Sunflowers. You can find beautiful species of Aster, Coneflower, Goldenrod, Liatris & Verbena for wet soils or well-drained dry soils alike. Truly consider many of these for your backyard butterfly sanctuary. While foraging these flowers, Monarchs may sporadically visit milkweeds for many weeks into Autumn.
Monarchs are dimorphic. Males are distinguished from females by thinner vein markings and a pheremone gland on their wings.
In the Spring, Migratory Monarch butterflies return to Kansas from their Winter residence in Mexico.
Most Monarchs hatch, and live their whole lives, during the warm season; they live three or four months altogether, about half of that time in their adult form.
The ones who overwinter in roosts can live twice as long as the ones who do not, by sleeping the winter away.
The third & fourth generations of this year’s Monarchs will return to roost in the mountain forests of Mexico.
The Monarch and the Milkweed
We recommend you buy milkweed found in your local plant nursery. Buy Spider Milkweed, which is better known in the field as Antelope Horn and attracts Spring Monarchs. All milkweeds are rhizomous- although Swamp (AKA Rose) Milkweeds are also clumping. Look for Rose Milkweed cultivars by the names “Cinderella” and “Ice Ballet”. Butterfly Weed is also commercially available- and we recommend only the perennial variety (asclepias Tuberosa). Other suitable garden varieties are uncommon.
If you design and plant a Monarch Butterfly Waystation, you too, may share the joy of the Monarch Butterfly lifecycle! When Early Monarchs find Spring nectar, they leave single caterpillar eggs on nearby milkweeds (up to 250 times!) Don’t be alarmed at the destructive appetite of this brightly-marked caterpillar!
In short time, the milkweeds will grow back to bloom! Most milkweeds bloom up to 4 weeks- and prune the dead heads at-will.
It is very common for Rose Milkweeds to host Monarch caterpillars in Autumn, too. Those caterpillars will form a chrysalis and pupate into Adult Monarch in time to migrate to the true butterfly sanctuary in Michoacán, Mexico.
🐛🦋 Butterfly Basin hosted Monarch caterpillars in its first Spring! 🐛🦋
Lastly, add a “puddler” to a sunny spot in your butterfly sanctuary. This is simply a patch of sand or flat rocks and gravel to be thoroughly wet during waterings, because pollenators drink from damp stones and sand. A well-drained garden puddler may need placed in a basin. If you are using a rain garden, simply pick a low spot.