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High in the mountains of central Mexico, oyamel forests are the overwintering home of the eastern migratory monarch butterflies. These pollinators migrate from Canada and the US to overwinter in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. As spring arrives, they start their migration back north, seeking out milkweed to lay their eggs and nectar plants to eat.
Milkweed is essential to the monarch: It is the only plant on which they lay their eggs and the only source of food for baby monarch caterpillars. But the increased use of herbicides in agricultural expansion and the paving over of land for urban growth have destroyed millions of acres of milkweed—so much so that the migratory monarchs are now classified as endangered.
Join the monarchs’ migration journey and help these amazing butterflies—and other pollinators—by planting nectar plants and the right species of milkweed in your own backyard.
Use the milkweed finder below to find the right type of milkweed to plant where you live. This small action can make a big difference in the survival of these beloved butterflies.
Different species of milkweed thrive in different parts of the country. Alaska, Hawai'i, and Puerto Rico are not included on this map because monarchs do not migrate to these regions.
Find a nursery or other plant retailer in your area with the right kinds of milkweed, or buy milkweed directly from Monarch Watch. To help as many monarchs as possible, plant a variety of milkweed as well as other plants that provide adult monarchs with nectar. For example, choose plants that bloom at different times of the year to help monarchs as they fly south at the end of summer and north in the spring as they return to their breeding grounds in the US and Canada.
The plants should come with instructions. If not, check out these tips to make the most of your monarch waystation. For example, make sure your milkweed is planted in as much sunlight as possible and shield it from wind.