Milkweed for Monarchs

We need pollinators…and they need us!

Pollinators – like bees, butterflies, and birds – are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat. Just as they are crucial to the diversity of our food supply, they are also responsible for the diversity of plants in nature. Yet across the nation they are disappearing. This is the case for bees – like hundreds of species of native bees that pollinate so many of our food crops – as well as iconic species like the monarch butterfly. The good news is, we can help! Creating habitat for pollinators like bees and butterflies in your yard or school garden is one important action you can take to help pollinators thrive.

Supporting monarch butterflies

The RCD’s Milkweed for Monarchs program is all about creating more habitat for monarch butterflies and other pollinators by planting milkweed. Planting milkweed provides essential habitat for Monarchs, and also provides the opportunity to observe the life cycle of these fascinating insects.

Milkweed is the host plant for monarchs. Female butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed leaves, and it is the sole food source of monarch caterpillars. The number of monarch butterflies counted at overwintering sites in California and Mexico has decreased by about 95% since the 1980s! We also are experiencing a major loss of milkweed plants in monarchs’ spring and summer breeding areas, due to factors like urban and agricultural development and the use of herbicides in farming, pastures, and along roadways.

By planting butterfly host plants such as milkweeds and a diverse array of flowering plants in school gardens, community gardens, and front and back yards, we create new habitat for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

The RCD has narrowleaf milkweed seeds to share with schools and residents in San Diego County who want to create pollinator habitat. We can also sometimes offer narrowleaf milkweed plants to schools, as well as other information and resources to assist with pollinator gardens.

Sign up for our school garden email newsletter to receive announcements about available resources!

The RCD is a founding member of the San Diego County Pollinator Alliance, a network of organizations and agencies working to increase native pollinator habitat and awareness about pollinator-friendly practices throughout San Diego County. Find out more.

Milkweed and Monarchs Resources


Milkweed seed sowing and plant care instructions:

Download our leaflet on how to sow and care for milkweed seeds

Planting milkweed plants

Creating pollinator habitat:

Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed – Xerces Society

Gardening for Monarchs fact sheet – Monarch Joint Venture

Monarch Waystations are gardens that provide the resources that monarchs (and other pollinators) need. Once you have your pollinator habitat planted, consider registering it as a Monarch Waystation! Find out more.

Citizen science programs:

Report your Monarch sightings to Journey North, a country-wide Monarch monitoring program. Check out their interactive map of sightings so far this year!

Download an overview of monarch citizen science programs here

Join the Milkweed for Monarchs iNaturalist project where you can contribute observations of Monarchs in your gardens. Click here to join.

More info about monarch conservation:

Monarch conservation information – Xerces Society