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A monarch butterfly resting on clover near downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Kyle Daly, USFWS.
A monarch butterfly resting on clover near downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Kyle Daly/USFWS.

Creating pollinator habitat can be a fun and rewarding activity for everyone! From schoolyards to businesses and community gardens, planting native gardens is a great way to provide essential habitat through beautiful landscaping. Managing urban green space for monarch butterflies will benefit many species and your wallet. Milkweed and other native wildflowers provide nectar for pollinators and reduce maintenance costs of landscaping.

Benefits of native wildflowers:

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How to build a butterfly and pollinator garden in seven steps

Pollinator garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Courtney Celley, USFWS.
Pollinator garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo by Courtney Celley/USFWS.

Monarch butterflies and pollinators are in trouble. You can help by planting a pollinator garden! You can plant a garden anywhere - your yard, school, church, business or even in a pot for your front steps.

A simple, native flower garden will attract beautiful butterflies to your yard and help pollinators stay healthy. In addition to nectar from flowers, monarch butterflies need milkweed to survive, so if you notice the leaves on your milkweed have been chomped, don’t worry, it’s a great sign!

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More than monarchs

The state of monarch butterflies reflects the health of American grassland habitats and its pollinators.

Monarchs are a flagship prairie species. Prairie habitat is important to songbirds, pheasants and other animals dependent on grasslands and wildflowers. Pollinator-friendly habitat is filled with diverse nectar sources which support monarchs and native bees. Native milkweed and other nectar sources provide monarchs with breeding habitat, resting and refueling stops during migration and food at the overwintering sites. Habitat that provides insect-rich environments supports upland birds, grassland songbirds and other prairie wildlife.

People benefit too. Native grasses and flowers have complex root systems that help filter water, reduce runoff and control erosion. Wildflowers beautify our landscapes. Diverse prairies are great places for recreation ranging from hiking, wildflower identification and bird watching to hunting.

To create healthy habitat for all grassland species we need to increase habitat connectivity, use native pollinator-friendly seed mixes and plant a range of nectar plants that bloom from early spring to mid fall.