Monarch Nectar Guides

Photo: Monarch on rough blazing star by Joshua Mayer/; used under a Creative Commons license.

Photo: Monarch on rough blazing star by Joshua Mayer/; used under a Creative Commons license.

Monarchs are in decline across their range in North America. Loss of milkweed host plants due to extensive herbicide use has been identified as a major contributing factor, and loss or degradation of nectar-rich habitat from other causes, natural disease and predation, climate change, and widespread insecticide use are probably also contributing to declines.

One of the most significant actions you can take to support monarch populations is providing nectar-rich flowers and milkweed host plants. Adult monarchs depend on diverse nectar sources for food during all stages of the year, from spring and summer breeding to fall migration and overwintering. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are completely dependent on their milkweed host plants. Inadequate milkweed or nectar plant food sources at any point may impact the number of monarchs that successfully arrive at overwintering sites in the fall.

While many guidelines are available regarding which species of native milkweeds are best for your region, these guides were created to address a need for evidence-based, monarch-specific nectar plants throughout the U.S. These guides were developed in partnership with the Monarch Joint Venture and National Wildlife Federation and are geared toward gardeners and landscape designers but will also be useful for land managers who are implementing large-scale monarch restoration projects. Read More

These nectar plant lists were compiled based on best available data and are considered working documents. You can help us improve them by submitting additional monarch nectaring observations via our online survey. Note that not all species will work for a given site; we encourage you to use additional references when making final species determinations for your location. Data sources for these guides may be viewed here.

In addition to the above links to regional lists for gardeners and landscape designers, we compiled a national technical note, Monarch Butterfly Nectar Plant Lists for Conservation Plantings, which combines all of these lists into a single document and is a helpful tool for ecological restoration. The lists in the document highlight flowering times relative to monarch presence in each region, plant availability as seed or in containers, moisture needs, and other information helpful for conservation planners. The lists also show numbers of observations of monarchs on particular plants and we hope this encourages more people to contribute their observations. Download the technical note here.

Click a region of the map to view and download the Monarch Nectar Plant List for that area, or click here to view all lists.

monatch nectar map


We are grateful to the Monarch Joint Venture and the USDA NRCS for funding this project, and to our partners at the National Wildlife Federation. We thank all of the individuals who provided data on monarch nectar plants. You can view a full list of data sources here.