Plant Taller Milkweed Species for Monarchs

More monarch eggs and caterpillars can be found on taller species of milkweeds that are planted in garden settings, than on shorter species of milkweeds in garden settings. Photo credit: USFWSmidwest, cc-by 2.0

A recently published study by researchers at the University of Kentucky compared monarch butterfly usage of seven species of milkweed in small, urban garden settings. The two-year study, found more monarch caterpillars and eggs on the taller milkweed species (swamp milkweed, common milkweed, showy milkweed, and Mexican whorled milkweed), compared to the shorter milkweed species in the study. Common milkweed and showy milkweed, which in addition to being tall also have broad leaves, had the most monarch eggs and caterpillars.

The seven species of milkweed studied were common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), swamp milkweed (A. incarnata), butterfly milkweed (A. tuberosa), green milkweed (A. viridis), whorled milkweed (A. verticillata), showy milkweed (A. speciosa), Mexican whorled milkweed (A. fascicularis), and broad-leaf milkweed (A. latifolia). Common, swamp, butterfly, green, and whorled milkweeds are native to Kentucky. Showy, Mexican whorled, and broad-leaf milkweeds are native to other parts of the U.S.

This article was part of Shannon’s original Kentucky Pollinators and Backyard Wildlife blog which evolved into the blog for Backyard Ecology.

Backyard Ecology: Exploring Nature in Your Backyard
Nature isn’t just “out there.” It’s all around us, including right outside our doors. Hi, my name is Shannon Trimboli, and I am the host of Backyard Ecology. I live in southcentral Kentucky and am a wildlife biologist, educator, author, beekeeper, and owner of a nursery specializing in plants for pollinators and wildlife conservation. I invite you to join me as we ignite our curiosity and natural wonder, explore our yards and communities, and improve our local pollinator and wildlife habitat. Learn more or subscribe to my email list at

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