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California Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kits

The ground is covered with trays containing thousands of tiny plants waiting to be collected and taken to planting sites
(Photo: Xerces Society / Angela Laws)

Many insect pollinators are declining in California, including bees and butterflies. The population of western monarch butterflies has declined 99.9% since the 1980s, due to a variety of reasons, including habitat loss and degradation, pesticides, and climate change. One important step we can take to protect these important animals is to increase the amount of habitat available to these species. To this end, the Xerces Society is offering habitat kits that contain climate-smart native plants to project partners who are willing to provide the time, labor, and land to develop habitats that support monarchs and other pollinators.

In 2019 and 2020, Xerces’ California habitat kits provided over 72,000 plants to 55 partners in 29 counties, resulting in more habitat for monarch butterflies and pollinators. We are excited to continue this work.

 

Kit Description

We have several types of habitat kits available; the contents of each kit varies by region. Some types of kits are only available in certain regions. This is because we want to work with local plant and seed producers and use local plant ecotypes in our Habitat Kits as much as possible. Milkweed is included in kits, except for kits that will be planted near overwintering sites. Please note: if you do not see your region listed below, we do not have kits suitable for your region.

 

Kits available for the Sacramento Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and Coastal Foothills, and the Sierra Nevada Foothills include:

  • Wildflower Grassland Kit. This kit contains 1600 small herbaceous transplants (‘plugs’), including milkweed and other plants used by monarchs and pollinators, as well as some native grass seed. Each kit will cover ~0.3 acre if planted on 3 ft. spacing. Minimum order of 1 kit / project. Additional kits can be requested for larger projects.
  • Hedgerow Kit. This kit contains 17 woody and herbaceous transplants (including milkweed), which will provide 100 feet of hedgerow when planted on 6-ft. spacing. Minimum order of 5 kits / project. Additional kits can be requested for larger projects.
  • Riparian Wildflower Kit. This kit contains 1,600 small transplants (‘plugs’), including milkweed and other plants used by monarchs and pollinators, and native grass seed. This kit contains plants that do well in riparian areas and can tolerate some seasonal flooding. Each kit will cover ~0.3 acre if planted on 3-ft. spacing. Minimum order of 1 kit / project. Additional kits can be requested for larger projects.
  • Riparian Hedgerow Kit. This kit contains 17 woody and herbaceous transplants (including milkweed), which will provide 100 ft of linear habitat when planted at 6-ft. intervals. This kit contains plants that do well in riparian areas and can tolerate some seasonal flooding. Minimum order of 5 kits / project. Additional kits can be requested for larger projects.

Kits available for Southern California:

  • Southern California Kit. This kit contains 32 plants, including 4 shrubs, 8 milkweed plants, and a mix of native grasses and forbs. Each kit will cover ~300 square feet. Minimum order of 3 kits / project. Additional kits can be requested for larger projects.

More information to download

 

Who are the Kits for?

The kits are intended to be used on public lands or working lands in the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills, Central Coast and Coastal Foothills, or Southern California. Participants must be able to use the entire kit or minimum order in one project, but it can be divided up within the area. For example, several plantings within one county park, or several areas on a farm or ranch. The kits are not intended to be used in home gardens.

We encourage private landowners of working lands to partner with their local Resource Conservation District (RCD) on their projects.

If you have questions about your project’s suitability or requests for technical guidance on your project, please email us at [email protected].  

More information to download:

 

How to Participate in the California Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kit Program

If you’d like to participate in this program, habitat kit interest forms will be available in early April. The form asks for information about where the kit will be planted, size of the area, and plans for site preparation, management, and maintenance, as well as plans for pesticide risk mitigation and outreach opportunities, if applicable.

Competed forms are due by 5:00 pm Pacific on April 30, 2021. Note that there are a limited number of kits and not everyone who expresses interest will receive one. Participants are selected based on the project information set out in the interest form as well as considerations such as location and habitat implementation and management plans.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should I contact if I have questions?
You can contact us at [email protected] with any questions about our California habitat kit program.

How do I participate in the Habitat Kit Program?
Interest forms for California Monarch and Pollinator Habitat Kits will be available in April. The form asks for information about where the kit will be planted, size of the area, and plans for site preparation, management, and maintenance, as well as plans for pesticide risk mitigation and outreach opportunities, if applicable.

What is required of participants?
You are required to plant the kit within a reasonable amount of time after receiving the kit (1–2 months), and to follow the plan outlined in your interest form. Once the kit is planted, you must contact us to let us know the kit is planted, and share some photos. A brief report (~1–2 pages) is due in June 2022 which should include information such as the amount of area planted and the establishment success of the project. If awarded a kit, you will receive a Project Partner Collaborative Agreement that outlines all requirements.

Which regions of California are kits available for?
Kits are available for the Sacramento Valley, the San Joaquin Valley, Sierra Nevada Foothills, the Central Coast and Coastal Foothills, and Southern California. We welcome interest forms from partners in all of these regions, but partners in our Priority 1 area (see map below) are especially encouraged.

When will the kits be available?
Kits will be available in late October or early November.

How do I get my kit?
You will be expected to pick up your kit. There will be a range of dates (usually around 4 days) and times when the kits will be available for pick-up.

Can I have the kit delivered to me?
Moosa Creek Nursery is willing to deliver the Southern California kits. However, this will be a private arrangement between the nursery and the awardee, and the awardee must pay for and arrange delivery directly with the nursery.

What plants are in the kits?
See plant list tables at the end of our informational handout.

How did you decide what plants to include in the kits?
The plant species included in the kits have been chosen based on monarch nectaring observations compiled from numerous sources, including published and technical reports, research datasets, and personal communications with monarch researchers, botanists, and other experts. Visitation data provides good general guidance on which plants are preferred by monarchs. Additional factors, such as availability, climate adaptiveness, regional and site suitability and general pollinator attractiveness, were also taken into consideration. All plant species in the habitat kits are native to California.

I would like to create a pollinator garden at a school (or other public place). Which kit type should I choose?
The Southern California kits are most appropriate for creating a small pollinator garden because they are smaller kits and have a diversity of plants. The wildflower grassland kits are too large for a small pollinator garden and the hedgerow kits have many shrubs, which make them inappropriate for most pollinator gardens.

Can I purchase a kit on my own?
Yes—at least, for southern California. Those kits can be purchased from Moosa Creek Nursery.

Can I get technical assistance for creating and maintaining my kit?
Yes! We are happy to help. You may contact us at [email protected] with questions about your project and for advice on how to ensure that your project will be successful.

We have created a planting guide for our California habitat kits. You can also find a variety of information and materials on our website, particularly in the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center.

If you are interested in planting a kit on working lands, you may also want to seek assistance from your local Resource Conservation District or the NRCS.

I do not live in California. Am I eligible for a kit?
Unfortunately, we can only provide these kits to people who will be planting them in California. We also have habitat kits available in Santa Fe, NM, and the Northeast region (deadline passed for 2021). Over time, we hope to expand our habitat kit program to further parts of the country.

How can I support the Xerces habitat kit program?
The habitat kits are possible thanks to the generosity of Xerces Society donors and members. Find out how you can support the Xerces Society at https://xerces.org/donate