Yes, it has the word “weed” in the name, but the flowers are very beautiful! Milkweed is the only plant monarchs lay their eggs on, and the only plant their caterpillars eat, so it is an essential plant in every monarch butterfly habitat.

Milkweed to Monarchs seed packets contain three different species of milkweed that are native to southwestern Ohio—swamp milkweed, butterfly weed, and common milkweed. Milkweed plant varieties are regional, so make sure the seeds you plant are native for your region. Seeds should be planted in a sunny location with well-drained soil, although swamp milkweed can tolerate wetter conditions.

Fall planting is the easiest. Simply scatter the seeds onto bare earth and cover with 1/8 inch of soil. Planting in spring requires a stratification process, because the seed shell needs softening before it can germinate – a process that happens naturally in the winter. To prepare for spring planting, place the seeds between two layers of moist paper towels in a plastic bag and store them in the refrigerator for 30 days. Then sow directly in the ground with 1/8 inch of soil covering them.

While milkweed is necessary for monarch caterpillars, adult monarchs, as well as other butterflies need nectar plants on which to feed. Here is a list of great nectar plants that are native to the Southwest Ohio region:

  • Achillea (Yarrow)
  • Apocynum (Dogbane)
  • Aquilegia (Columbine)
  • Aronia (Chokeberry)
  • Asclepias (Milkweed)
  • Aster Callicarpa (Beautyberry)
  • Cephalanthus (Buttonbush)
  • Corepsis (Tickseed)
  • Echinacea (Coneflower)
  • Erigeron (Daisy Fleabane)
  • Eupatorium (Joe Pye Weed)
  • Filipendula (Meadowsweet)
  • Helenium (Sneezeweed)
  • Helianthus (Sunflower)
  • Hydrangea arborescens
  • Liatris (Blazing Star)
  • Lobelia (Cardinal Flower)
  • Monarda (Bee Balm)
  • Penstemon (Beard Tongue)
  • Phlox
  • Physocarpus opulifolius (Ninebark)
  • Rhus (Sumac)
  • Rudbeckia (Black-eyed Susan)
  • Sambucus (Elderberry)
  • Solidago (Goldenrod)
  • Vaccinium (Blueberry)
  • Veronicastrum (Culver’s Root)
  • Vernonia (Ironweed)
  • Viburnum